Mastriano wins Pennsylvania GOP governor primary despite party concerns
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano was projected to win the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday despite a flagging effort from some Republicans to block him from the nomination.
The Associated Press called the race at 9:51 p.m. ET.
Mastriano defeated a crowded field of other gubernatorial candidates, including former Rep. Lou Barletta, his main primary rival, and had a healthy polling lead during the weeks leading into the primary.
Mastriano is a staunch hard-liner in the GOP and has centered much of his campaign around the unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020. He’s also supported outlawing abortion without any exceptions and rolling back privacy protections for people who contract COVID-19.
The state senator scored a surprise endorsement from former President Trump over the weekend, helping inject a late jolt into Mastriano’s bid.
Still, Republicans had scrambled to try to head off a Mastriano nomination and waged a bungling effort to coalesce around an alternative candidate.
However, conversations among the other major campaigns and some local and state GOP officials failed to push out any of Mastriano’s top rivals, leaving him a path to victory with just a plurality of the vote.
“Why I’m doing this is because I don’t want to see my party pull a Thelma and Louise and go over the cliff when we have an opportunity in front of us to really put this commonwealth back on a track,” Sam DeMarco, the chairman of the Allegheny County GOP who was involved in the talks, told The Hill last week.
Mastriano’s nomination is particularly frustrating for Republicans given the positive environment the GOP is anticipated to enjoy this year and the fact that the party already controls both chambers of the state legislature, meaning a win in the gubernatorial race for outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) open seat would hand them unified control in Harrisburg.
Compounding those worries is the fact that Mastriano will run against state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who ran without any opposition in the Democratic primary and stocked up a fearsome campaign bank account as his GOP rivals bickered.
“Instead of focusing on kitchen-table issues like strengthening the economy and investing in education, Doug Mastriano is an extremist running on a dangerous agenda that would devastate Pennsylvania families,” said Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Noam Lee.
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) expressed determination to flip Wolf’s seat – but in a statement made no mention of Mastriano.
“The country, and Pennsylvania, is worse off under Democratic leadership and Josh Shapiro, who will continue the same policies that have led to record inflation and increased violent crime. The RGA remains committed to engaging in competitive gubernatorial contests where our support can have an impact in defending our incumbents and expanding our majority this year,” said RGA Executive Director Dave Rexrode.
Mastriano’s win also hands Trump a win, though Mastriano held a consistent lead before winning the former president’s imprimatur.