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Gun Safety Victory: In Everytown’s First Major Investment in Sheriff Elections, Chris Campanelli Defeats Brian Shank to Become Erie County, PA Sheriff


Campanelli Significantly Overperformed the Democratic Candidate for Erie County Executive 

ERIE, P.A. – Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund (“Everytown”) released the following statement after Chris Campanelli was elected Sheriff of Erie County, PA — defeating gun lobby-endorsed candidate Brian Shank. 

Everytown ran digital advertisements and sent direct mail to make sure voters knew exactly how dangerous Brian Shank would be. Voters listened and the impact of Everytown’s investment in this race was clear as Campanelli was the top vote getter in any Erie County contested election, and significantly overperformed the Democratic candidate for Erie County Executive. Earlier this year, Everytown announced a nearly $200,000 pilot independent expenditure program in this race to lay a marker for expanded independent expenditures in down-ballot races, including sheriff elections, next year. 

The contrast in the Erie County Sheriff race couldn’t have been more stark. Sheriff-Elect Campanelli was a gun sense candidate running against Brian Shank, a dangerous gun lobby extremist. Shank was investigated for inappropriate conduct and admitted to sexually assaulting women he was hired to protect, and he broke the law by illegally carrying a gun and putting Erie County families at risk. 

“This victory sends a clear message to would-be sheriffs across the country: If you plan on running against gun safety, you should also make plans for what you’ll do after losing,” said John Feinblatt, head of Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund. “Everytown will build on this victory in Erie County, and help other communities elect gun-sense sheriffs.”

“If we can’t trust a candidate for sheriff to enforce the laws, they don’t deserve the job,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “This is a victory not just for Erie County Pennsylvanians, but for our entire movement, proving that gun safety wins at every level of the ballot — and there’s an army of Moms Demand Action volunteers making sure of it.” 

This program comes as a part of Everytown’s commitment to leaving no stone unturned in the fight to end gun violence and defeat the gun lobby’s hand-picked candidates for Sheriff that we can’t trust to follow their oaths and the rules on the books by enforcing gun safety laws. Law enforcement officers nationwide have criticized the gun lobby’s efforts to enact unconstitutional nullification laws, because they make their jobs harder and put their lives at risk. As more and more gun sense candidates win elections and take action by strengthening gun safety laws, the gun lobby has doubled down on this push, Pennsylvania included, to nullify federal and state gun safety laws, especially by electing sheriffs who refuse to enforce the law and put their own officers’ lives at risk. Everytown’s investment, and this victory, represent that supporting dangerous, unpopular policies have consequences for candidates.