Veteran Republican state Sen. Bob Mensch has spent the past four years watching Lt. Gov. John Fetterman preside over the legislature’s upper chamber, and he can summarize his take in one word.
During a recent DVJournal podcast, the Delaware Valley Republican, who is retiring from office, offered his take on the races for governor and U.S. Senate, as well as the contest to fill his District 24 seat. And he concedes the Trump brand of GOP politics espoused by fellow state Sen. Doug Mastriano isn’t a good fit for the region.
“Some of the policies that have been espoused by the [Mastriano] campaign don’t line up as well in the southeast as in the rest of the state,” Mensch said of the GOP nominee for governor.
Mensch said candidates for statewide office need Democrat and independent voters as well as Republicans to win. Former Gov. Ed Rendell “used to say this all the time, (to win the governorship) you need to win seven counties. And five of those counties are right here in the southeast.”
“To be successful. I think Doug has to do a lot more campaigning, and I think he’s got to adapt his style to what the voters expect. It’s not always just what the candidate expects. I think he’s got to improve on his fundraising.”
The latest financial statements show that the Franklin County senator is far behind his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
“With that said, some polls have Mastriano and Shapiro relatively close. And some have them 10 points apart. Polling has become less of an exact science through the evolution of communications,” said Mensch.
Mensch, who has represented parts of Montgomery, Bucks, and Berks counties since 2009, said that while his constituents have mixed views of Mastriano, “there is a large presence here in my district supporting Mastriano.”
“There is quite a heartbeat here for Doug, and I like a lot of what Doug is talking about. I really do,” Mensch said.
Unlike some other Pennsylvania Republicans, Mensch is not jumping ship to back Shapiro.
“I can’t be favorable toward Josh Shapiro, not only because of party affiliation, but I disagreed so much with the policy initiatives of Gov. Tom Wolf. I believe that Shapiro will just be an extension of those policies. And I think it’s really wrong for the freedoms of our people in this state.”
And while Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz may be trailing in the polls, Mensch still finds him impressive.
“He is a very smart man, a very accomplished doctor in his field. He has a great many significant achievements,” Mensch said. “But he’s got to get out his political platform, his political message,” said Mensch. “He’s campaigning against a man who has one or two policy issues.”
Mensch is definitely not impressed with Fetterman
“All he wants to do is legalize marijuana,” said Mensch. “You would expect that someone who’s running to be my U.S. senator would have more than one initiative.”
And Mensch mocked Fetterman for campaigning on his performance as mayor of Braddock, Pa. “Drive through Braddock. No one sees any improvement,” Mensch said.
“One ad says he has changed the job of the lieutenant governor,” said Mensch. “If that means he doesn’t know what he’s doing after four years, and he’s still incompetent at being the president of the Senate, then yes, he’s changed the job. He just doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’m relatively unimpressed with (Fetterman).”
As for who he would like to see serve his constituents in the Senate after he retires, Mensch said that would be state Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Harleysville).
“She’s an incredible person,” said Mensch. “She really is. She’s so talented, so smart.”
Pennycuick “will be an incredible representative for the people in the 24th District in the Pennsylvania Senate…I don’t see a reason why she can’t get elected, and the mood in the district, as well as the polling in the district, would suggest that she’s an odds-on favorite for the seat.”
Democrat Jill Dennin, a community volunteer from Gilbertsville, is also running in the 24th.