Trump-backing firebrand state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) easily won the Republican nomination for governor, setting up a showdown with Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro in November — and a possible throwdown with elements of his own party.
“It’s time for Pennsylvanians to unite,” Mastriano said in a statement Tuesday night. “Together we can and will reignite the torch of liberty and ensure all Pennsylvanians benefit from the bounty God has given our state.
“Our next objective is to defeat Josh Shapiro so we can revive our economy, achieve energy independence, lower taxes, restore law and order and reform our failing education system,” Mastriano added.
Matrasriano ran as a tireless advocate of some of the more extreme elements of the Trump agenda, in particular the unfounded claim that President Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election in Pennsylvania and nationwide. He participated in the January 6 protests on Capitol Hill that devolved into a violent assault and he appeared at a rally organized in part by advocates of the bizarre QAnon conspiracy cult.
Asked during a Delaware Valley Journal podcast how he planned to address those issues in the general election when he would need the votes of moderates and independents, Mastriano angrily ended the interview.
While Mastriano has been a longtime Trump supporter, the former president didn’t endorse his candidacy until four days before the election, by which time polls consistently showed the state senator with a formidable lead. Trump did, however, take the unusual step of issuing an “anti-endorsement” of former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain.
“He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive Election Fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth,” Trump said.
As news broke of Mastriano’s victory, many Republican strategists and party officials were less than thrilled with the result. They believe his aggressive, far-right politics will push away moderate voters in a purple state like Pennsylvania. Multiple news reports revealed a last-minute attempt to rally GOP primary voters around a single alternative to Mastriano — former Congressman Lou Barletta — but it was too little and far too late.
The Republican Governor’s Association, which raises large amounts of money for candidates, offered a tepid reaction to the news of Mastriano’s victory. Its statement criticized Shapiro, but didn’t praise Mastriano. And rather than pledging its support to the nominee, the statement merely said, “The RGA remains committed to engaging in competitive gubernatorial contests where our support can have an impact in defending our incumbents and expanding our majority this year.”
Jessica Taylor, an editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said that organization was moving the Pennsylvania governor’s race from “toss up” to “leans Democrat” on the news of Mastriano’s win.
Former Trump adviser David Urban was more blunt, predicting on CNN Mastriano will lose handily to Shapiro, adding he fears Mastriano could drag down the entire GOP ticket in November.