Trump-backed Mastariano has become a target of Pennsylvania governor candidates on both sides of the aisle

He also announced his withdrawal from the Republican Party’s ruling race and threw his support behind the former United States Representative. Lou Barletta, Senate Pro Tempor Chair Jake Corman, called the governor’s open seat an “opportunity.”

“The only way we won’t be successful in the fall is to nominate someone who is not likely to win,” he said.

This comment was directed at the front-runner for the Republican nomination, the state senator. Doug Mastriano. The clearest sign of Mastariano’s supposed dominance in the primaries came on Saturday when he secured a last-minute endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Mastariano was one of the prominent street vendors in Pennsylvania for Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

“He exposed the deception, corruption, and outright theft of the 2020 presidential election and will do something about it,” Trump said in a statement Saturday, adding that Mastriano “is a fighter like few others, and he was right with me from the start, and now I have an obligation to be with him.”

But Corman’s comments made clear what had been an explicit concern among Republicans – that Mastriano might be too radical to win a general election in a combative coastal state.

Swinging voters in the populous suburbs of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have proven decisive in previous elections — a voting bloc that Senate Republican leader Kim Ward said Republicans need to win — and Mastariano may not win.

“Senator Mastriano has an appeal to Republican primary, but I fear Democrats will destroy him with swing voters,” Ward wrote in a Facebook post this week announcing that she supports former Delaware County Assemblyman Dan White for governor. “The goal is not to win the primaries. Winning the primaries and losing the general because the candidate is unable to get the votes in the middle is not a win. We need a candidate who can win in November.”

Democrats, eager to pounce on Mastriano’s rising stature within crowded Republican Square, rolled out a statewide political ad in the final days of the campaign.

The declaration begins, “This is a republican country, Senator Doug Mastiriano.” He explains that Mastriano wants to ban abortions and end voting by mail and is a staunch supporter of Trump — all the credentials Mastriano wants his base to know, but the ones Democrats believe will hurt him if he’s a Republican contender in November.

Advertising costs are being paid for by the campaign of Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general who is running unopposed to be the Democratic nominee for governor.

“I think he would obviously be their candidate,” Shapiro told CNN.

It’s a strategy that campaigns across the country have used before – promoting the candidate the other side believes will be the weakest competitor in the general election.

However, in the final days before the Pennsylvania primary, Mastariano stood before his supporters in western Pennsylvania and proudly asserted that he was the “most conservative candidate” running for Republican governor.

The Mastariano campaign denied repeated requests for an interview or access to campaign events.

Mastriano, a retired US Army colonel who has served in the Senate since 2019, rose to national prominence in 2020, raising unfounded doubts about the outcome of the Pennsylvania presidential election. Despite a vote count that showed Trump losing the state by more than 80,000 votes and providing no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Mastariano attempted, but failed, an Arizona-style partisan scrutiny in the 2020 election.

Mastriano was also photographed outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, the day of the uprising there. In a statement, he said he left before rioters stormed the Capitol.

Emphasis on voting and abortion rights

On the Democratic side, Shapiro succeeded in clearing the field of any major competition with strong partisan support.

Like Mastriano, the two-term state attorney general rose to national prominence in 2020, defending the outcome of Pennsylvania’s presidential election. Shapiro has faced the Trump campaign and its allies dozens of times in court, winning nearly every case against the state.

“The next governor here in Pennsylvania, the ultimate swing state, the center of the battle to protect our democracy, is going to have a lot to say about the future of democracy,” Shapiro told CNN, noting that the governor would name the Commonwealth’s highest-elected official.

In his campaign closing arguments, Shapiro emphasizes not only voting, but abortion rights as well. It’s an issue that Democrats believe, in the wake of a leaked US Supreme Court opinion draft, will energize highly swing voters that Republicans are concerned about if Mastriano becomes their candidate – suburban women.

In Philadelphia earlier this month, Shapiro rallied supporters of abortion access, calling Mastriano an “extremist.”

“I oppose a group of extremists on the other side who want to take away the basic liberties of Pennsylvania, and I will resist that,” Shapiro told CNN in an interview.

Then he got fed up with Mastriano

“I’m someone who wants to protect a woman’s right to choose. He’s going to ban abortion. I’m someone who wants to expand voting rights in Pennsylvania. He’s looking to limit them,” Shapiro said. “We think it’s important for the people of Pennsylvania to know that there is a clear contrast between them and them.”

This is a contradiction that Mastriano proudly declared at his rally in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

“This is someone else’s body,” Mastriano told a crowd waving placards in his name. “And that person, boy or girl, deserves every kind of right to life as anyone in this room here.”

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