Pennsylvania’s Dem Governor Candidate Propped Up His Own Rival. Now, Republicans Think He Could Win.
Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the commonwealth’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, purposefully helped State Sen. Doug Mastriano, his Republican rival, win his primary race. Now, many Republican operatives in the state believe there’s a chance the move could backfire in the general election.

In the days before the Pennsylvania primary, Shapiro financed advertisements that depicted Mastriano as “ahead in the polls,” the author of Pennsylvania’s heartbeat bill, a leader in the “fight to audit the 2020 election,” and “one of Donald Trump’s strongest supporters.”

Mastriano decisively won his primary race in May, but he lags behind Shapiro in the general election, according to recent polls. However, as consumers continue to face cost pressures and as President Joe Biden remains highly unpopular, political operatives in Pennsylvania think Mastriano could have a shot at victory in the fall.

“The higher the gas prices go, the more electable Mastriano is,” Jackie Kulback, the chair of the Cambria County Republican Party who initially had reservations about the candidate’s chances, told Politico. “Honestly, I feel this is Mastriano’s campaign to lose.”

One USA Today Network and Suffolk University poll released in June showed that Pennsylvanians disapprove of President Biden by a 54% to 39% margin, with more than half of voters saying they “want their vote in November to change the direction in which Biden is leading the nation.” With respect to the economy, 48% of Pennsylvanians said that their standard of living is worse, while 17% said it is better — a significant reversal from 31% reporting better conditions and 17% reporting worse in 2018.

“Most people are in a little bubble, where they talk to one other and say, ‘Boy, there’s no way Doug Mastriano can beat Josh Shapiro.’ Well, you know what? Those people don’t get off the turnpike,” public affairs consultant and Shapiro supporter Larry Ceisler told Politico, referring to the highway that crosses Pennsylvania. “It wakes some people as to: It’s a real campaign, and yes, there really are people who are for Doug Mastriano, and this is not going to be a walk in the park.”

Despite working to select Mastriano as his opponent, Shapiro has been highly critical of his rival.

“I am someone who has stood up for law enforcement. I am someone who has stood up for the rule of law, and he has been the exact opposite. He is dangerous,” Shapiro told KDKA. “He is destructive, and I would argue just for the fact that he was there on January 6 and sided with the insurrectionists over law enforcement, he is unfit to be the governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania is poised to be among the most closely watched states in the midterm elections. With the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Pennsylvania — which has a Republican-led legislature — is likely to debate bills related to abortion following the midterms.

Senate candidates Dr. Mehmet Oz and Lt. Governor John Fetterman are likewise preparing for a competitive contest in November. Oz, a celebrity cardiologist and Republican nominee, raised $15.2 million between March 17 and June 30, according to filings with the U.S. Federal Elections Commission. Though Fetterman, the commonwealth’s Democratic nominee, has not yet reported his second quarter fundraising to the agency, he has raised $11 million between April and June, his campaign told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Pennsylvania’s Dem Governor Candidate Propped Up His Own Rival. Now, Republicans Think He Could Win.