FILE - Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano speaks ahead of former President Donald Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Sept. 3, 2022. An Associated Press review has found that more than a quarter of Republican candidates for statewide office that play some role in overseeing, certifying or defending elections across 38 states supported overturning the 2020 presidential election (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Doug Mastriano poised for U.S. Senate run; here’s why some Pennsylvania Republicans implore him not to
Rachel McDevitt/StateImpact Pennsylvania
As state Sen. Doug Mastriano considers entering the U.S. Senate race on Thursday, one colleague is urging other Republicans not to support his bid.
Mastriano (R-Franklin) has talked publicly about running for Senate, and told ABC27 he is making “an announcement” on Facebook Live at 8 p.m. Thursday. The Republican nominee in that race will go up against three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat.
State Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) tweeted an appeal Monday to “all level-headed PA Republicans to join me in requesting that Doug Mastriano abandon any plans he may have to run for US Senate in 2024.” In a 14-tweet thread, he said Mastriano’s “casual disregard for the truth” was concerning and was a factor that led to him losing the 2022 gubernatorial race.
Democrat Josh Shapiro beat Mastriano by nearly 15 percentage points and 800,000 votes.
Mastriano supported Donald Trump’s 2020 election fraud lie, including by leading a meeting of the state Senate Majority Policy Committee in Gettysburg about three weeks after the election that gave Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani a platform to spread disinformation about the 2020 results.
Mastriano was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and crossed police barricades, though he denies crossing any lines established by law enforcement. Mastriano repeated election disinformation in his run for governor. County, state and federal judges and public officials of both political parties, and election experts, have concluded the 2020 election was free and fair.
In an interview, Diamond said having Mastriano at the top of the ticket next year could damage the party.
“This is really like a doomsday asteroid for the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and we need to deflect it now,” he said.
Mastriano did not return a request for comment Monday.
Diamond did not say he disagrees with Mastriano on issues. On Twitter Monday, Diamond noted the two “stood arm in arm” in fighting against COVID-19 restrictions. In December 2020, Diamond signed a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence that questioned the legitimacy of the election results.
Diamond criticized Mastriano’s judgment and character not because of his policy positions, but because, Diamond said, he has lied and refused to publicly acknowledge mistakes.
He also said Mastriano refused help from himself, party fundraisers, and county Republican groups in 2022.
Diamond said he’ll be looking for a Republican candidate who can unite the party by reaching out to people who didn’t vote for them in the primary, as well as bring in votes from Independents and some Democrats. He said Mastriano has not shown he can do that.
Republican and 2022 U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick is expected to announce his candidacy for 2024, according to Politico.
“Senator Mastriano–whether you like him or you don’t like him–he’s been weighed, he’s been measured by the voters of Pennsylvania and he’s been found wanting,” Diamond said.
Diamond, however, said he would support Mastriano if he wins the Republican primary.
Sam Chen, a Northampton Community College political scientist who also works as a Republican strategist, said Mastriano can’t afford to lose Republican support and still expect to win the Senate seat in the purple state of Pennsylvania.
And he said Casey’s career as a moderate Democrat might make Mastriano’s task harder.
“Bob Casey has a lot of Republican allies and friends and Independent allies and friends,” Chen said. “That’s part of the Casey plan — that he hasn’t done anything controversial.”
He said Diamond’s main issue seems to be with Mastriano’s electability. Chen said he expects this election to be harder for Republicans than the 2022 elections were, and a far-right candidate could doom the party’s chances.
Chen added that in the 2022 gubernatorial race, Mastriano wasn’t facing an incumbent — as he would if he won the primary and ran against Casey in 2024.
Chen said he expects McCormick to be Mastriano’s biggest competition in the primary.