Doug Mastriano announced his gubernatorial bid in January by blowing a shofar. He's not Jewish; he's a certitiably insane Christian nationalist in fact and seems unaware that the cutting edge Christian nationalists are not going for the whole "Judeo-Christian" thing anymore. If that phrase wasn't good enough for Hitler, it isn't good enough for them. Mastriano may not be up on the latest from the social media fringe of his wing of the party but his bona fides are impeccable. He's a state senator from the backward southern tier of the state, more part of the South than anyone would imagine for Pennsylvania. The last time a freshman Democrat won his district (SD-33) was in 1932, part of the FDR landslide. Mastriano may be recognized by most people outside his district as the most wigged out politician in the state but last year he was reelected with 68.7% of the vote.
A year ago, the New Yorker's Eliza Griswold painted a portrait of Mastriano in which a normal person would recognize a mentally deranged sociopath who you might expect to be living in an insane asylum-- or a prison cell for anti-American insurrectionists-- not as someone representing people in the state legislature-- unless, of course, the people who vote for him are also mentally deranged and with no feelings or wariness towards sociopaths or insurrectionists. At a meeting with Trump and other members of the Pennsylvania legislature, the vehemently anti-mask Mastriano was asked to leave when his COVID test came back positive. I'm sorry to report that he didn't die and decided to run for governor of Pennsylvania instead.
Griswold wrote that "In the past year he has led rallies against mask mandates and other public-health protocols, which he has characterized as 'the governor’s autocratic control over our lives.' He has become a leader of the Stop the Steal campaign, and claims that he spoke to Donald Trump at least fifteen times between the 2020 election and the insurrection at the Capitol, on January 6th. He urged his followers to attend the rally at the Capitol that led to the riots, saying, 'I’m really praying that God will pour His Spirit upon Washington, D.C., like we’ve never seen before.' Throughout this time, he has cast the fight against both lockdowns and Trump’s electoral loss as a religious battle against the forces of evil. He has come to embody a set of beliefs characterized as Christian nationalism, which center on the idea that God intended America to be a Christian nation, and which, when mingled with conspiracy theory and white nationalism, helped to fuel the insurrection. 'Violence has always been a part of Christian nationalism,' Andrew Whitehead, a sociologist and co-author of Taking America Back for God, told me. 'It’s just that the nature of the enemy has changed.'"
Charles Thompson, writing for PennLive, right after Mastriano announced his gubernatorial bid, reported that "Mastriano, who has developed a sizeable following over the last two years, joins a still-evolving Republican field. That field has grown so large that, depending on just how big Mastriano’s base turns out to be, he has to be considered a real factor in the May Republican primary... Mastriano’s key to success in the GOP primary would appear to be emerging as the top choice of the hard-core Trump supporters in the Republican electorate, something he has a running start on given his vocal support of the 'Stop the Steal' efforts in late 2020. And he would have to hold on to them in the face of opponents’ counter-arguments that Mastriano could struggle to grow his base in a broader, general election. As a sign that he’s looking for something like a Trump endorsement in this race, speakers for Mastriano’s campaign launch included Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Jenna Ellis... Mastriano carries himself as a populist, dismissing establishment politicians as corrupt and belittling many of his fellow Republicans as not conservative enough. He warned in a Facebook video in December that other Republicans will 'lie, cheat and steal' to beat a 'people’s governor' and suggested the other candidates aren’t popular enough to hold a rally to kick off their candidacy.
On the day Mastriano blew the shofer to signal his run, Flynn, a Russian agent, QAnon mainstay and renowned Biblical scholar, told a Mastriano rally that "Biblically speaking, at the age of 13, Jesus Christ went into the temple and he ransacked it. [The Democrats] would call him a domestic terrorist today... Mastriano is exactly the kind of leader we need. We need warriors, we need fighters. We need people that believe in this country."
This morning Trip Gabriel told NY Times readers that Pennsylvania is the biggest abortion battleground of the midterms. "Republicans," he wrote, "downplayed the issue, shifting attention instead to the leak itself and away from its substance. They also argued that voters’ attentions were fleeting, that abortion was hardly a silver bullet for Democratic apathy and that more pressing issues-- inflation and President Biden’s unpopularity-- had already cast the midterm die. To Democrats, this time really is different. 'These are terrifying times,' said Nancy Patton Mills, chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. 'There were so many people that thought that this could never happen.' If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the power to regulate abortion would return to the states. As many as 28 states are likely to ban or tightly restrict abortion, according to a New York Times analysis. In four states with politically divided governments and elections for governor this year-- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kansas-- the issue is expected to be a fulcrum of campaigns. In Michigan and Wisconsin, which have anti-abortion laws on the books predating Roe, Democratic governors and attorneys general have vowed to block their implementation. Kansas voters face a referendum in August on codifying that the state constitution does not protect abortion. Pennsylvania, which has a conservative Republican-led legislature and a term-limited Democratic governor, is the only one of the four states with an open seat for governor. 'The legislature is going to put a bill on the desk of the next governor to ban abortion,' said Josh Shapiro, a Democrat running unopposed for the party’s nomination for governor. 'Every one of my opponents would sign it into law, and I would veto it.'"
Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, has been primarily known for defeating multiple cases brought by supporters of Trump claiming fraud after he lost Pennsylvania by 80,000 votes in 2020. When Shaprio began his campaign last year, he focused on voting rights, but he said in an interview last week that he expected the general election to become a referendum on abortion.
His campaign said it had its best day of fund-raising after the Supreme Court draft leaked last week.
He rejected the notion that voters, whose attention spans can be short, will absorb a major Supreme Court reversal and move on by the fall. “I’m going to be talking about rights-- from voting rights to reproductive rights-- until the polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day,’’ Shapiro said. “People are very concerned about this. I expect that level of concern, of fear, of worry, of anger is going to continue.”
All four of the top Republicans heading into the primary on May 17 have said they favor strict abortion bans. Lou Barletta, a former congressman and one of two frontrunners in the race, has said he would sign “any bill that comes to my desk that would protect the life of the unborn.”
Another top candidate, Doug Mastriano, said in a recent debate that he was opposed to any exceptions-- for rape, incest or the health of the mother-- in an abortion ban. Mastriano, a state senator, has introduced a bill in Harrisburg to ban abortions after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy. Another Republican bill would require death certificates and a burial or cremation after miscarriages or abortions.
...Last month, 31 percent of registered [Pennsylvania] voters said abortion should be legal in all circumstances, up from 18 percent in 2009. Those calling for abortion to be illegal in all circumstances declined to 16 percent, from 22 percent in 2009. A broad middle group, 53 percent, said abortion should be legal under 'certain circumstances.'"
Writing for the Washington Examiner Friday, Salena Zito warned fellow wing nuts that Shapiro wants Mastriano to win the primary and is even running ads to boost Mastriano's name ID and tie him to Trump. Zito wrote that "If Mastriano wins the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, he may well cost Republicans the U.S. Senate race that will share the ballot this fall, a couple of congressional races, and perhaps even majorities in the state House and state Senate. That would be a pretty remarkable feat in a year when Republicans are expected to succeed throughout the country. Mastriano is that bad. Yet everywhere you go across rural Pennsylvania, there are Mastriano campaign signs for governor. They are in yards, parking lots, along the sides of highways, and along the side of buildings. Try telling any of these voters who has amassed a cultish following that Mastriano has a lot of issues, and they dig in and support him more. Part of the problem is the ridiculous number of candidates running for the nomination-- currently, there are nine, including former Rep. Lou Barletta, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, Republican strategist Charlie Gerow, former Rep. Melissa Hart, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, Delaware County businessman Dave White, and heart surgeon Nche Zama."
The Franklin & Marshall poll that came out last week shows Mastriano is winning and with momentum:
Another poll, released by City&State, confirms Mastriano's growing lead:
Doug Mastriano- 28%
Bill McSwain- 14%
Lou Barletta- 12%
Dave White- 11%
Melissa Hart- 6%
Jake Corman- 3%
Can you imagine Mastriano campaigning with Dr. Oz? Or even that hedge-fund guy? I can't even imagine either of them voting for him!