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If Shapiro Believes Mastriano Is Dangerous, Should He Have Elevated Him With Advertising?

On the evening of the primary election, the Democratic nominee for governor Josh Shapiro said of his Republican opponent, Doug Mastriano: “Republicans just nominated a dangerous extremist who wants to take away our freedoms.”

The following day, in a text message to supporters, Shapiro said Mastriano was “anti-democracy.”

If those things are true, does it say something about Shapiro that his campaign purposely boosted Mastriano’s chances of becoming the GOP nominee? How dangerous must one be before the Shapiro campaign would flinch at elevating that person?

Charles C. Cooke at National Review makes the case.

“I do not want to hear a single thing from the Democratic Party about the ‘threat’ that Doug Mastriano presents to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or to the republic in general,” Cooke wrote. “I am, from this moment on, not remotely interested in that case. Why not? Because the Democratic Party clearly doesn’t believe a word of it. When one truly believes that a given candidate is a threat, one doesn’t ‘send out mailers boosting him,’ or spend $840,000 on television advertisements designed to improve his standing.”

The Shapiro campaign did not address the question in a straightforward manner when contacted for comment by Broad + Liberty.

“For weeks before the primary election, both public and private polling indicated that Doug Mastriano was poised to become the Republican nominee, and those predictions were confirmed last night,” said Will Simmons, spokesperson for the Shapiro campaign.

“The contrast in this race could not be more clear — and that’s why our campaign was prepared to start the general election early and make sure Pennsylvanians know Mastriano’s real record,” Simmons added. “Mastriano is a dangerous extremist who wants to criminalize and outlaw abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. He wants to restrict the right to vote and continues to spread conspiracy theories, and he would destroy the union way of life for hard working Pennsylvanians.”

About a week before the primary election, regional and national news outlets highlighted a television ad from the Shapiro campaign that — while running against Mastriano — seemed cleverly worded and positioned to boost Mastriano’s credentials with undecided Republicans.

“Josh Shapiro, the Democratic attorney general of Pennsylvania, is employing a familiar but risky tactic in that state’s governor’s race: He’s paying for a TV ad that appears intended to help one of his opponents in the Republican primary,” the New York Times reported on May 13.

The ad buy from Shaprio was even more important given that the Mastriano campaign had not run much of a television campaign because its budget was much smaller than others.

At least one progressive views it the way Cooke does.

“[T]he ethics are different this time around,” wrote columnist Will Bunch in the Inquirer.

“Mastriano isn’t just a bad candidate (cough, cough Tom Corbett), or even a historically bad one. He is a uniquely dangerous man who — if elected this year in a “wave election” where Republicans win all over the place — would have the legislative support to undo our basic rights and rip the fading fabric of our democracy in the very state where these ideas were forged in 1776 and 1787.”

This article first appeared in Broad and Liberty.

Gubernatorial Candidate Bill McSwain to Spend $6.8 M on Campaign Ads in GOP Primary

Bill McSwain, the former U.S. Attorney who is running for governor, is spending $6.8 million on cable and broadcast television, radio, and internet ads in the run-up to the May 17 Republican primary, according to filings. That is more than many of his opponents in the crowded GOP field have in their campaign coffers, let alone their advertising budgets.

Indeed, Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman’s campaign announced Monday it had raised $3 million and had $2.7 million cash on hand.

Garnering the backing of the endorsement of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, a free-market advocacy group, was a major coup for McSwain.

“We’re confident that as voters meet Bill McSwain and learn about his record, they’ll conclude he’s the best choice to serve as Pennsylvania’s next governor,” said Matt Brouillette, Treasurer of Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a political action committee affiliated with Commonwealth Partners.

“Bill is very honored to be able to share his message,” said Rachel Tripp, McSwain’s campaign spokeswoman. “With the combination of the Commonwealth Partners support and over 10,000 donors, this is the start of a long-term strategy.” The advertisements allow voters “share his vision,” she said. “This is just the beginning of a longer fight.”

Indeed the winner of the primary will almost certainly face Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state Attorney General who is running for governor and who just received his party’s endorsement last weekend. Shapiro, who has no primary challengers, will be well-funded for the general election.

However, it might not be smooth sailing for the former Marine.

“Having those kinds of resources is an undoubted benefit that allows a candidate to be competitive, but alone it is probably not sufficient to win,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “The strategy here may be to build momentum in order to attract more donors and perhaps scare off a few other potential candidates.  Of course, candidates are not likely to win in this state based on advertising alone, so we will need to see how his campaign does organizing on the ground. His performance in the straw polls suggests he has some work to do with party insiders, which signals a disconnect with the local party leaders who are important in these primary elections.”

McSwain’s first television ad began airing on Fox News Monday. The commercial, entitled “Send In a Marine,” an announcer tells viewers McSwain served his country as a “scout sniper” in the Marine Corps and was appointed by former President Donald Trump as U.S. Attorney General for Southeastern Pennsylvania. In that role, he “put hard criminals behind bars and took down corrupt politicians.” The spot then pivots to tell the audience that as governor, McSwain would rebuild the economy, “reduce taxes on hardworking families,” and “empower parents to give their kids a great education.”

McSwain, 52, grew up in West Chester, where he still lives and graduated from Yale and Harvard Law School. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Stephanie. They have four children.

After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office, he joined the Duane Morris law firm.


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