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Pennsylvania Republicans Have Their Own Internal Civil War-- Establishment vs Mastriano

There were 8 candidates in the Pennsylvania Republican Party gubernatorial primary and 1,348,447 people voted. There were no moderate candidates and no one won a majority, but QAnon extremist and far right state Senator Doug Mastriano , certainly the worst of the lot, won… by a lot. He had been endorsed by Trump, although not until after polls showed he would win anyway. He was also endorsed by TrumpWorld celebrities like the My Pillow Guy, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Flynn and Jenna Ellis. (Steve Bannon and Bill Stephen endorsed longtime xenophobe Lou Barletta and Kellyanne Conway sold her endorsement to party bigshot Jake Corman).

  • Neo-Nazi Doug Mastriano- 591,044 (43.8%)

  • Former Congressman Lou Barletta- 273,007 (20.2%)

  • Former Trump-appointed US Attorney Bill McSwain- 212,683 (15.8%)

  • Delaware County board member Dave White- 128,966 (9.5%)

  • Former Congresswoman Melissa Hart- 54,674 (4.1%)- withdraw and endorsed Barletta

  • Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale- 27,895 (2.1%)

  • State Senate President Jake Corman- 26,048 (1.9%)- withdraw and endorsed Barletta

  • American Conservative Union VP Charlie Gerow- 17,909 (1.3%)

  • Surgeon Nche Zama- 16,221 (1.2%)

Every June poll shows moderate Democrat Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s current Attorney General, beating Mastriano. The video up top is a 30 second ad that started running today. The state Republican establishment worry the ad and future ads like it— and Mastriano’s candidacy in general—will damage their candidates up and down the ballot. Early this morning, right-wing newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that mainstream Republicans have already begun endorsing Shapiro.

Julian Routh wrote that “In what analysts are calling an unprecedented move in an era of extreme hyperpartisanship, a group of Republican leaders— including a number of former officials who have been stalwarts of Pennsylvania’s GOP establishment for decades in Harrisburg and D.C.— is bucking their party to endorse Democrat Josh Shapiro for governor… The list includes two former U.S. representatives, Charlie Dent and Jim Greenwood; former state House Speaker Denny O’Brien; former Lt. Gov. and longtime state Sen. Robert Jubelirer; and former state Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman.”

The endorsements aren’t just vague odes to bipartisanship in a divided country; they serve as a direct hit against state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, and it’s reminiscent of the effort before the GOP primary among Republican insiders to coalesce support around an alternative. That effort failed, but Shapiro’s camp and allies are hoping this lends credence to his argument that Mastriano is on the fringe of his own party.
Morgan Boyd, the chair of the Lawrence County Board of Commissioners and the only current official on the list, said Pennsylvania is at a crossroads and that Shapiro is “the only candidate with a vision, the experience and the plan to bring it back.”
Boyd said he was drawn to the Republican Party because he believes in fiscal responsibility, small government and using government as a force for good. This isn’t a time to vote for someone simply because of the letter next to their name, he added.
“I think there’s actually a large number of moderate Republicans across the state right now who are considering either openly supporting Josh or silently supporting him through their vote,” Boyd said. “I would encourage them to use their experiences to search within their hearts and make the determination themselves that they feel is best for the commonwealth. I think that, by and large, they’ll come to the same conclusion that I did.”

Charlie Dent was one of the first Republican lawmakers to recognize what a danger Trump is to America. He couldn’t deal with Trump as the leader of his party and retired from Congress. Still, he’s previously always supported Republicans for governor, but today he warned that Mastriano, is an extremist who is a threat to the “rule of law and the constitutional order.” The other former GOP congressman who endorsed Shapiro, Jim Greenwood of Bucks County, who will chair Republicans for Shapiro, called Mastriano “extreme and dangerous.”

This morning the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Greenwood describes himself as a NeverTrumper and that “he rattled off a long list of reasons for his opposition to Mastriano in an interview with The Inquirer [inlcuding] “Mastriano’s attendance at the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, his use of campaign funds to bus supporters to that event, his repeated claims of debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, his vow to ban all abortion in the state with no exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the pregnant person, his opposition to gay marriage, and his comparison of gun-control measures to Nazism. ‘I think he’s an extreme, dangerous guy who is out of touch with the majority of the people in Pennsylvania,’ said Greenwood, who also expressed concern that Mastriano as governor could create a crisis in Pennsylvania’s election in 2024 if Trump seeks the presidency again.

1 Comment

Jul 07, 2022

I'm sure you know, Howie, but basically the same thing is happening in Illinois. The Trump endorsed country bumpkin Darren Bailey beat a lackluster bunch of GOP candidates in the primary including one that was handpicked and generously supported by hedge funder Ken Griffin. Our Democratic governor is not getting GOP endorsements yet but it looks like JB Pritzker is going to win handily. I suspect the people of Illinois outside of Cook County learned their lesson when they voted for Republican Bruce Rauner in 2014 and in 2018 candidate JB Pritzker received 54% of the vote while Rauner received 39%. Thanks to Trump and his acolytes Republicans are deservedly becoming a rump party in Illinois. My two cents, Howie.…

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