The winner was projected by DecisionDeskHQ at 10:13 p.m. EST Tuesday night.
The candidate will replace Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, who is completing his second term at the helm of the Keystone State. The race, for which Shapiro had been the favorite throughout the entire midterm election cycle, was closely watched in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, since most new regulations on abortion from the Republican-dominated legislature had been blocked by Wolf.
Shapiro, 49, the commonwealth’s attorney general, won his primary race unopposed and engaged in the risky strategy of funding Mastriano as his preferred rival for the general election. Mastriano, a state senator and retired Army colonel, decisively won his primary against a crowded field that included former Representative Lou Barletta.
Last month, Shapiro reported $44 million in expenditures, surpassing the former $42 million record established by former Governor Ed Rendell in the 2002 cycle. Mastriano had spent less than $3 million. Establishment Republicans had avoided funding Mastriano due to his presence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. While the Democratic Governors Association contributed $5.5 million to Shapiro, the Republican Governors Association did not provide any financial support to Mastriano.
The 58-year-old Republican made his race about social issues, such as school choice and radical gender theory, although he generally remained silent about “Christian nationalism” — a subject for which legacy media outlets had painted him as a spokesman, and abortion policy, despite his authorship of Pennsylvania’s heartbeat bill.
“He really is sort of a blue-collar guy who is very devout. He loves the country and he loves the Lord. So he’s an easy guy to caricature. How many people in the national media or the Democratic Party have faith as a huge part of their lives?” former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum had remarked during an interview with The Daily Wire. “When they see someone like this, they’re the ‘other.’ It’s so funny how the Left always talks about how conservatives look at people as the ‘other’ while they look at Christians as ‘other.’ It’s very easy to caricature someone like him because of his strong faith.”
Rachel Tripp, senior communications advisor for Oz, told the Daily Wire reacted to Shapiro’s projected win, saying “You know, I think that what that says is that this is a purple state. We knew that this entire race. I think when it comes to our race, it’s something that is indicative with Dr. Oz as well. I think we are going to see strong support with Republicans, independents and Democrats who have all come out to vote for Dr. Oz.”
Voter Larry Herman told the Daily Caller that he worried that Mastriano’s loss could decrease Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz’s chances at winning against Democrat John Fetterman. “The question is how much that’s going to carry against Dr. Oz.”
“I’m disappointed. I really was rooting for Mastriano but knew that it was going to be a long shot. And there’s just a lot of things about Shapiro that I think are extreme. And I felt as though Mastriano was extreme too. So it doesn’t surprise me,” Cindy Falcone, another voter, said about the results.
One of the few advertisements run by the Mastriano campaign centered upon sexualized content in government schools. The nominee cited various examples of LGBTQ curricula in the commonwealth and linked his opponent to organizations which support double mastectomies and genital surgeries for children, then emphasized the importance of school choice. As many as 77% of voters nationwide considered “education and schools” a top issue in the midterm elections, according to a poll from ABC News and The Washington Post.
Despite his advantage in the polls and among donors, Shapiro appeared to be aware of voters’ enthusiasm surrounding education reform and school choice. The candidate added language to his campaign website late in the race indicating his support of “adding choices for parents and educational opportunity for students and funding lifeline scholarships like those approved in other states and introduced in Pennsylvania.” The legislation would pull funds from the bottom 15% of districts to help families pay for tuition elsewhere.