With more than a thousand supporters chanting “Doug for Gov” at a conference center in Gettysburg Saturday, Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano made the long-expected announcement he’s running for governor.
The four-hour event, which at times seemed more like a Christian revival than a political rally, featured speeches by well-known figures including former Gen. Michael Flynn and Fox News commentator and author Kathy Barnette, who is running for the U.S. Senate. After her speech supporting him, Mastriano endorsed Barnette.
“No one is going to give us our country back,” Barnette said. “There is no plan…It’s going to have to come from us…I give it less than a year if we don’t get this right. Doug has been fighting for us. You need to get behind the ones who are fighting for you.”
Mastriano took the stage with his wife, Rebbie, at his side and laid out the themes of his campaign.
“Let’s walk as free men and women,” he said. “It’s a choice. Every day we woke up in our lives as Americans, our freedoms were there and it was fantastic, right? Then we had 14,15 days of flattening the curve and we all braced ourselves. Then (Gov.) Tom Wolf was moving the goalposts constantly,” he said.
“Two years on, with this whole thing dragging on, it’s not even about the science. It’s about controlling your lives…You business owners, Tom Wolf gave your four hours heads up that he was shutting you down that night, remember that?” he asked.
“And then he closed down all the cabinet shops across the state, except there was one left open, in York. Wolf Cabinet Industries… The governor should be looking out for everybody. This is Pennsylvania where you can live the dream. Many of you had your dream snatched or almost snatched away by these failed policies.”
Mastriano promised to reduce regulations from more than 153,000 to fewer than 100,000, to eliminate property taxes that cause many elderly people to lose their homes or decide to pay the tax instead of (buying) food and medicine, to suspend the gasoline tax, to stop violence in Philly, and to unleash school choice to improve education.
“We’re going to clean that city up,” said Mastriano, adding that his grandfather settled in Philadelphia after immigrating from Sicily. He promised to back law enforcement.
Mastriano, who has embraced some of President Donald Trump’s fringe theories about the 2020 election, called out his fellow Republicans nearly as often as the Democrats.
“The swamp and the establishment Republicans, they’re terrified…We are going to win. They’re going to unleash a series of lies…please continue the fight,” he said. “Now that we’re in this, we’ve got to finish strong.”
Mastriano went to Arizona to study that state’s process of examining election irregularities and proposed doing a similar audit in Pennsylvania.
“Guess what? A lot of things went wrong,” he said, about the 2020 election. “People across the state were telling me, ‘This happened and this happened to my mom. Senator, do something,’” he said. So he held a hearing in Gettysburg. “And guess what? They haven’t disproven anything. We have all these unanswered questions. Our election system needs to be addressed.”
Along with calling for voter identification, Mastriano also urged his supporters to vote and to get their friends and neighbors to vote as well. Voters were able to pass ballot initiatives to rein in Wolf’s powers last year, he said.
However, after he feuded with party leaders last August Senate leadership, including Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman, stripped Mastriano of his committee leadership position and replaced him with Sen. Chris Dush, (R-Jefferson), to conduct the state’s election integrity review. Corman is also running for governor.
Mastriano told the crowd not to elect “the same old Republican dinosaurs.”
“It’s time that we stop settling,” he said. “It is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
In addition to Mastriano and Corman, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain; state Sen. Scott Martin; Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist; Guy Ciarrocchi, who is on leave from his job as CEO of the Chester County Chamber; Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale; former Congresswoman Melissa Hart; Pittsburgh lawyer Jason Richey; and businessman and former Delaware County Councilman Dave White are among those who are vying for Republican voters’ nod in the May 17 primary.