In Pennsylvania, Democratic State Attorney General Josh Shapiro — who is hoping to be the Keystone State’s next governor — has been running two types of campaign ads. The first type lays out the things that Shapiro would like to do if he succeeds Gov. Tom Wolf in 2023; the second type paints his Republican opponent, State Sen. Doug Mastriano, as a dangerous extremist who is way out of the mainstream. And Mastriano, a far-right Christian nationalist and conspiracy theorist who falsely claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, has given the Shapiro campaign a great deal of material to work with.
Journalist Tim Dickinson, in an article published by Rolling Stone, describes a radio interview that Mastriano gave in 2018 — an interview that, according to Dickinson, vividly illustrates why Mastriano is such a disturbing candidate.
“No one would mistake Doug Mastriano — the Trump-endorsed candidate for governor in Pennsylvania — for a moderate,” Dickinson explains. “He tried to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, participated in the events of January 6 — where he was slated to be a speaker — and has endorsed a no-exceptions abortion ban, dismissing the notion of ‘my body, my choice’ as ‘ridiculous nonsense.’ But in a radio interview in 2018, the former Army colonel let the mask slip all the way down, revealing himself as an extremist who would block equality for LGBTQ+ couples, who denies global warming, and who believes Islam is ‘not compatible’ with the United States Constitution.”
Dickinson continues, “Mastriano made the extreme remarks during an interview in February 2018, as he announced a campaign for U.S. Congress. Mastriano spoke to hosts for WEEO News Talk 103.7, a conservative FM channel with a studio in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, near the Maryland border.”
Dickinson goes on describe other things Mastriano said in that 2018 interview. The MAGA Republican described climate change as “fake science,” and when he was asked about same-sex marriage, Mastriano replied, “I’m for traditional marriage. And I am not a hater for saying that. It’s been like that for 6000 years. It was the first institution founded by God in Genesis, and it needs to stay that way.”
Mastriano, Dickinson notes, expressed vehemently anti-Islam viewers during that interview, saying, “Not all religions are created equal” — a “declaration” that the Rolling Stone reporter finds “particularly alarming in the context of the 2022 election, because Mastriano is running for statewide office on the same ballot as Republican Mehmet ‘Dr.’ Oz, the first Muslim from either party to be nominated for U.S. Senate.”
On August 13, Politico’s Holly Otterbein, a Philadelphia-based journalist, reported that Shapiro’s campaign was getting ready to unleash a “pair of attack ads targeting his opponent’s ties to the far-right social media network Gab.”
According to Otterbein, “Republican Doug Mastriano has come under fire for paying $5000 for ‘consulting’ services to Gab, the site where Robert Bowers made anti-Semitic posts before the deadly mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Mastriano also participated in an interview with Gab CEO Andrew Torba, where he told him, ‘Thank God for what you’ve done.’ In one of Shapiro’s ads, a narrator describes Gab as a ‘White supremacist website’ where “minutes before Jews were killed at this synagogue, the murderer posted his hate-filled plan.’ The spot highlights Mastriano’s payment to Gab.”
How effective Shapiro’s anti-Mastriano campaign ads will be in November remains to be seen. Some polls released in June showed a close race, with Shapiro leading by only four percent in a USA Today/Suffolk poll and by three percent in a Fabrizio/Anzalone poll. But a Fox News poll released in late July found Mastriano trailing Shapiro by 10 percent, and a poll that Blueprint Polling released in late July showed Shapiro with an 11 percent lead.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.