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Doug Mastriano Dragged the Pennsylvania GOP Down With Him Last Year. Now He Wants To Run For Senate

Democrats Can't Believe Their Good Fortune

Republicans faired poorly in Pennsylvania last cycle. The banner race for the open red Senate seat went to Democrat John Fetterman. The GOP nominee, Mehmet Oz, lost with 2,487,260 votes (46.3%) to Fetterman’s 2,751,012 votes (51.2%). Fetterman won the half dozen counties with the biggest populations. Oz won all the small rural county filled with brainwashed MAGAts. The only counties with sizable populations he won were Lancaster, York, Westmoreland, Berks, Luzerne and Cumberland.

Insurrectionist Doug Mastriano was on the same ballot that day, running for the open gubernatorial seat. He did much worse than Oz did. Josh Shapiro won 3,031,137 votes (56.5%) to Mastriano’s 2,238,477 (41.7%). Mastriano even managed to lose several red counties that Oz won, like Berks, Luzerne and Cumberland and even in the most backward, reddest hellholes, Oz outperformed Mastriano-- in every single one of them! Trump’s 5 best-performing counties in Pennsylvania in 2020 were Fulton (85.5%), Bedford (83.5%), Juniata (80.1%), Potter (79.9%) and Jefferson (78.7%). Last year Mastriano lagged in each:

Fulton County

  • Oz- R+68

  • Mastriano- R+63

Bedford County

  • Oz- R+64

  • Mastriano- R+56

Juniata County

  • Oz- R+53

  • Mastriano- R+42

Potter County

  • Oz- R+57

  • Mastriano- R+52

Jefferson County

  • Oz- R+51

  • Mastriano- R+41

Prominent Republicans either endorsing Shapiro or publicly refusing to endorse Mastriano included former governors Tom Ridge and Tom Corbett, Senators Pat Toomey and Mitt Romney, former Congressmen Charlie Dent, Jim Greenwood, Phil English and Tom Marino, current Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (+ Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger), and then-current governors Chris Sununu, Larry Hogan and Doug Ducey (chair of the Republican Governors Association), as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former Lt Gov Robert Jubelirer and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Newman.

This morning, before dawn, Holly Otterbein wrote up her interview with Mastriano— notable because the paranoid fascist almost never speaks to the mainstream press for more than a sentence— and she broke the news that he’s considering running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Bob Casey (who was last challenged in 2018, when he beat Lou Barletta 55.7% to 42.6%.) Let me mention that of the 3 competitive congressional seats that the Republicans felt they could win last cycle, the Democrats won all 3. Jim Bognet, Lisa Scheller and Jeremy Shaffer all grouse that Mastriano on the top of the ticket helped tanked their own campaigns. Mastriano's under-performance in Allegheny and Beaver counties gave Chris Deluzio a 6.8 point win in a district with a shaky D+1 partisan lean. Mastriano's under-performance in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties gave Matt Cartwright a 2.4 point win in a district with a huge R+8 partisan lean. And Mastriano's under-performance in Leigh, Northampton, Carbon and Monroe counties gave Susan Wild a 2 point win in a district with an R+4 partisan lean. The NRCC and McCarthy’s SuperPAC spent around $9 million on behalf of Shaffer, $10 million on behalf of Scheller and $6 million of behalf of Bognet. That was $25 million flushed right down the Mastriano MAGA-toilet.

Bonus: Mastriano at the top of the ticket inadvertently helped Democrats net 12 seats in the state House, giving them an unexpected majority in that chamber for the first time in over a decade.

Otterbein noted that Mastriano is looking at the results not so much as a massive loss and rejection but as "a movement" of 2,238,477 voters who backed him. He asked her— without a trace of irony— “What do you do with a movement of 2.2 million? We’re keeping it alive.” She wrote that he “made it clear that he is not finished with his quest to win higher office and transform the Republican Party along the way. He said he is ‘praying’ about whether to go forward with a potential Senate run in 2024. After God, his wife, Rebbie, will have the final word he said. ‘We’ve seen people in the past, other Republican gubernatorial candidates, they rise and they disappear when they lose. Why?’ You have people that love you and support you.’”

Virtually no one in the Pennsylvania GOP establishment is eager for that matchup. But Mastriano said Casey is a letdown to the anti-abortion cause. Casey’s father, former Gov. Robert Casey Sr., signed abortion regulations into law that went all the way to a landmark Supreme Court case, where they were largely kept intact.
“I think he’s a huge disappointment. He’s nothing like his dad,” he said. “His dad was more pro-life than most Republicans.”
Until now, Mastriano’s future plans have been a mystery within political circles. He has few relationships with party leaders and eschews traditional consultants, leaving it all but impossible for GOP officials to know what he’s thinking. In that vacuum of information, rumors have been swirling that he might be eyeing a challenge against Republican Rep. John Joyce, whose seat is safely red. But he ruled that out: “Congressman Joyce and myself are friends.”
What Mastriano ultimately decides to do will illuminate just how chastened the most diehard supporters of former President Donald Trump are after the 2022 midterms. Usually, losses of that magnitude drive people out of electoral politics. But the last three federal elections have been discouraging for Republicans, and each time, they’ve shown little desire to course correct. Trump himself is campaigning again in 2024 and remains the frontrunner for the nomination. Whether the GOP finally does move on will be determined, in large part, by how Republican primary voters treat potential and declared candidates like him and Mastriano.
…Mastriano’s flirtation with another statewide campaign is sure to give heart palpitations to GOP leaders. When a blue wave swept across Pennsylvania in 2022— Democrats won the gubernatorial race, Senate race and a majority of state House contests— most Republican officials pointed the finger at Mastriano. His staunchly anti-abortion stance that allowed for no exceptions, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, and his appearance at the capitol the day of the Jan. 6 attack alarmed many swing voters.
After staying out of primaries last year, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm intends to get involved this time around. Party leaders at the national and state level have aggressively courted Dave McCormick, the former hedge fund CEO who narrowly lost the Senate primary in 2022, to run again against Casey. Though McCormick sought Trump’s endorsement and employed former Trump aides during his campaign, Republicans believe he has a mainstream appeal that would attract suburban voters.
Mastriano declined to weigh in on the possibility of a McCormick bid: “Unbelievably, I’ve never met him, so I’d hate to make a judgment on him without meeting him since he’s probably going to run.” He also speculated that there could be a number of Republican candidates who vie for the Senate next year, though he declined to name names: “I think I’ll have a few people also running that I know and like.”
As he considers what’s next, Mastriano is analyzing what went wrong in 2022, even showing a willingness to bend on certain political tactics that, last cycle, his party shunned.
Republicans, he said, “have to embrace no-excuse mail-in voting.” That they did not is the reason he thinks he lost. He said he knew during the campaign that it was going to cost him. “It’s just so— repugnant’s the wrong word— it’s just so antithetical to how I view elections,” he said.
Mastriano said he was sure he was going to beat now-Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro right up until Election Day. He didn’t buy the polls showing him down badly.
“Because I’d go to these rallies and people would say, ‘We’ve never seen this.’ In Josh Shapiro’s home county the night before the election, I had over 1,000 people— we stopped counting at 1,000. I saw no Shapiro signs in his own county,” he said. “Here I am in Montgomery County the night before the election, I’m like, we got this. The rally was just electric.”

If rallies foretold election results, Bernie would be in the middle of his second term as president. Or Trump would have won big victories in 2016 and 2020, instead of big popular vote losses both times. No one but Mastriano was surprised when Shapiro won a landslide victory in Montgomery County— 285,712 (69.2%) to 121,289 (29.4%). He did far worse than Trump did two years earlier when he took 185,460 votes in the county (36.3%). The delusional Mastriano is “holding a rally this Saturday in central Pennsylvania, which will feature Trump lawyer Christina Bobb and conservative media personality Wendy Bell as speakers… He also hired Dan Cox, the unsuccessful Maryland gubernatorial nominee, as his chief-of-staff… a reason political insiders think he might want to run for higher office again. ‘Hmm,’ he said, laughing. ‘Gute erkennung.’ As the Germans say, ‘Good deduction.’”

Yes, as the Germans say. I asked one of my friends in the state Assembly what she think about Mastriano running for Senate. "Between you and I," she said, "I think it would be marvelous to have him, but I don't want to comment publicly because I don’t want to jinx it! I'm sure Casey is over the moon at the prospect. McConnell isn't well-liked by Pennsylvania Republicans and he's going to spend a fortune helping McCormick, maybe enough to give Mastriano the primary win!"


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