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Tag: doug mastriano

John Fetterman Flips Pennsylvania Senate Seat, Defeating Mehmet Oz

“I got knocked down but I got back up,” Pennsylvania lieutenant governor and Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman tweeted last month, referring to the stroke that took him off the campaign trail for months. Even as Fetterman fought his way back, including doing interviews with the help of closed captioning to help him adapt to a temporary auditory processing disorder, the media worked on painting him as unqualified while giving Oz a pass on things like having hundreds of dogs killed for medical research and promoting quack medicines.

Now Fetterman has gotten all the way back up, defeating Republican Mehmet Oz in the race for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. This is a big pickup for Democrats in the fight to retain control of the Senate.

[With more than 93 percent of precincts reported, Fetterman was projected to win with just over 50 percent to 47 percent for Oz. Democrat Josh Shapiro easily defeated Republican Doug Mastriano in the Pennysylvania governor's race.]

How Can Jews Still Support A Republican Party Infested With  Anti-Semites?

The anti-Semitic outbursts of Kanye West have exposed again the increasing tolerance of foul bigotry within the Republican Party and among its "conservative" mouthpieces. With West now touted as a new Black GOP voice (despite or perhaps because of his admitted mental illness), his sickening threats against Jews were quickly excused by the likes of Tucker Carlson, the top Fox News host whose own embrace of explicit anti-Semitism appears imminent.

Over the past few years, nearly every day has seen an anti-Semitic outrage perpetrated by some figure or organization associated with the Republicans; as the intensity and frequency of these offenses grows, the response by the party and its officials, never robust, has only become weaker and more cowardly.

The question is what Republicans — not the burgeoning caucus of neo-Nazis who call themselves Republicans, but actual conservatives — will do about this cancer on their party. It is a question especially pertinent to the handful of American Jews who have provided substantial financing for the Republicans, and for the man who has stimulated so much hate, former President Donald J. Trump.

When Trump initially excused the murderous Nazi rioters in Charlottesville, Virginia, he upset at least some of the Jewish Republicans who had supported him, such as the financier Stephen Schwarzman and the investment banker Gary Cohn. They felt the disdain of the overwhelming majority of Jews who want no part of Trump or Trumpism.

And yet many of those same Jewish Republicans continue to support the party as its extremism endangers their community and every other minority in the United States. It is curious indeed that someone like the hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay and therefore a target of fascist violence, would continue to subsidize this social poison.

Despite the fact that his own daughter and grandchildren are Jewish, Trump revived the "America First" slogan first popularized here by Hitler's agents and supercharged the return of fascist movements, with their animus against Jews, Blacks, gays and anyone else deemed "different." Having recently donned a "Q" pin to advertise his affinity for the conspiratorial, anti-Semitic and violent QAnon movement, the former president clearly understands that these hideous elements are crucial to his base. But the blame for this menace can no longer be attributed to him alone. Too many other Republicans are directly implicated or complicit.

In Arizona, much of the Republican apparatus is tainted by anti-Semitic rhetoric and ideologies, in particular state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who sucks up to the neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes and his America First Political Action Committee, and Rep. Paul Gosar, the member of Congress notorious for posting homicidal images of himself murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden. Mark Finchem, the party's nominee for secretary of state this year, is touting his endorsement by the openly anti-Semitic social media site Gab and its founder Andrew Torba, whose speeches explicitly echo the German Nazi Party.

In Pennsylvania, the Republicans nominated for governor a Christian nationalist state senator named Doug Mastriano, who hired Torba to send Gab's anti-Semitic subscribers to his campaign. He followed up with a bit of unsubtle Jew-baiting of his Democrat opponent Josh Shapiro.

In New York, the Republicans chose Carl Paladino, a raving racist, for an upstate congressional seat; his endorsement of Adolf Hitler as "the kind of leader we need" didn't bother Rep. Elise Stefanik, third-ranking Republican in the House, enough to evoke comment, let alone a disendorsement. And let's not forget Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the lunatic anti-Semite and apostle of QAnon violence who was nevertheless backed by nearly every House Republican last year when Democrats moved to strip her committee assignments.

The roster of white nationalists, fascists and neo-Nazis who identify as Republicans goes on much longer and includes such prominent party figures as Trump adviser Steve Bannon. There is now an entire wing of the party, bidding for dominant status, that bills itself as "nationalist" and promotes the authoritarian anti-Semitic leader of Hungary, Viktor Orban, as a Republican role model. That wing even has its own financier, the gay tech billionaire Peter Thiel, whose attraction to white nationalism may someday make him the Republican version of Ernst Röhm.

Whatever has motivated decent Republicans, including those of Jewish descent, to continue supporting what is rapidly becoming the party of fascism and anti-Semitism, they must stop and reconsider. If they imagine that they are using the far Right to achieve a political agenda of lower taxes or less regulation, they ought to recall how that worked out a century ago, when German conservatives, aristocrats, and nationalists thought they were manipulating Hitler and his movement to thwart socialism.

Those willing instruments of Nazism are stained forever — and that legacy of disgrace will be shared by the Republicans who are now enabling fascism in America.

Mastriano Would Charge Women Who Get Abortion With Murder

New audio uncovered of GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano reveals him plainly saying in 2019 that women who have an illegal abortion should be charged with murder.

Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator, was discussing an abortion ban bill he had sponsored that would have outlawed abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, typically around six weeks into a pregnancy. NBC News uncovered the audio of Mastriano's interview with radio station WITF in which he was asked if a woman who has an abortion at 10 weeks, which would be considered an illegal abortion under the proposed bill, should be charged with murder.

Mastriano initially dodges by contextualizing the question. "Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl?” he offers. “If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.”

But pressed for a response a second time, Mastriano bluntly confirms that he believes murder charges are in order.

"So you're saying, 'Yes,'" asks the interviewer.

"Yes, I am," Mastriano responds.

Before Mastriano won the GOP primary and went dark on abortion, he had called it his "No. 1 issue" and said he wanted to ban abortions without exception, "period."

But the revelation that he wants to charge people who have illegal abortions with murder is surreal. In May, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found just 16% of adults support imprisoning women who get abortions, while 73% of Americans oppose it.

On the bright side for Mastriano, he has now locked up the fringe group of voters who favor putting women behind bars for what in some cases is standard health care for people who experience complications during the course of their pregnancy.

The Shapiro campaign, on the other hand, is plenty happy to forfeit the fringes for the remaining three-quarters of sane voters.

"Doug Mastriano has said his number one priority is banning abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother — and now, it’s clear he also wants to prosecute women for murder for making personal healthcare decisions," Shapiro spokesperson Manuel Bonder told NBC in a statement. "Mastriano has the most extreme anti-choice position in the country — and there is no limit to how far he would go to take away Pennsylvania women’s freedom."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Mastriano's Weirdness, Paranoia, And Prejudice Are Sinking His Campaign

You didn’t even have to be in the State of Pennsylvania to hear the sickening crunch of the slow-motion train wreck of Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s campaign at the state capital in Harrisburg on Saturday. Only a few dozen people showed up for a rally Mastriano held on the capitol steps, and many of them appeared to be campaign volunteers, according to the New York Times.

Mastriano doesn’t really seem to have a campaign, according to reports in newspapers and on local television news shows over the last six months. Nor does he hold regular campaign events like speeches to crowds of supporters [see also: Harrisburg rally] or local civic organizations. He doesn’t give interviews to the media, either. In fact, he travels with a coterie of thuggish aides and candidate handlers whose sole job seems to be keeping the media at bay. He does like to speak at churches, where the press is almost always kept outside the sanctuary and cannot hear what Mastriano tells the congregations. When he does appear in a public setting, as he did two weeks ago at a luncheon in Pittsburgh, the press was “barred entirely,” according to a report in Vanity Fair, which had a reporter there attempting to cover the Mastriano campaign, with little apparent success.

At another campaign event in Pittsburgh recently, journalists were told “not to engage with Doug or Rebbie [Mastriano’s wife] and were physically blocked by campaign members and supporters,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Philadelphia Inquirer put it this way in a recent report: “On the campaign trail with Mastriano, dissent is squelched. Questions are neither asked nor answered. Paranoia is rampant.” Mastriano assured his audience in Pittsburgh that when he is elected, “No longer will you have a governor reigning over you with terror and fear.”

You have to wonder what kind of fear the man is talking about, and who he’s afraid of.

Mastriano, who cultivates the reputation of a tough guy and is often photographed scowling at the camera when the media can get close enough, is a thick-chested former Army officer who served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and retired as a colonel while teaching at the Army War College in 2017.

At another campaign stop in Delaware County recently, a videographer hired by the Mastriano campaign threatened a woman attending the event who he heard utter the date, January 6. “What was the question that you shouted?” asked the videographer, who was wearing a “Project Veritas” hat and a Captain America T-shirt, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Did you make a statement?” The woman tried to explain that she was an innocent attendee: “I was just standing here,” she said. Interviewed by the Inquirer, the woman was “not a rabble-rouser, but a Mastriano loyalist. She was only saying that she saw him at the Capitol on the day of the insurrection — because she was there, too,” the paper reported.

Indeed, he was at the Capitol the day it was attacked on January 6. He wasn’t just an innocent bystander, either. Mastriano had paid for two busloads of people to travel to Washington with him. He claims that he did not enter the Capitol and that he did not see any police lines when he joined the mob outside the Capitol building. Of course, the police barricades had been pushed aside by then, and the Capitol police defending them had been attacked and beaten by the mob, with more than 140 of them injured during the approximately four-hour riot.

Mastriano was subpoenaed by the January 6 select committee in February of this year, and on September 1, sued the committee attempting to block its subpoena. The committee had sent him a letter with the subpoena, noting that in his public statements about his presence at the Capitol that day, Mastriano had said that he “witnessed ‘agitators … getting in the face of the police’ and ‘agitators … start pushing the police up the Capitol steps.’”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who chairs the select committee, wrote to Mastriano, “We would like to better understand these statements and expenditures, events that you witnessed or in which you participated, and communications we believe you may have had with national, state, and local officials” concerning the 2020 election. The “expenditures” apparently refer to the money Mastriano spent to charter the buses to attend the Trump rally and other monies spent for accommodations and food on January 5 and 6, when he led his delegation from Pennsylvania to Washington.

Mastriano has refused to be interviewed about his participation in the assault on the Capitol building. He has also refused to answer questions about a hearing he helped to organize that was held on November 25, 2020, in Gettysburg by the state Senate Republican policy committee that was attended by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The hearing was one of several at which election deniers gave testimony about fake evidence of fraud that had been thrown out of court by judges hearing Trump lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the election in Pennsylvania and other battleground states.

Mastriano’s lawsuit against the select committee is still pending, even as the committee has begun winding down its investigation in order to ready its report.

The New York Times yesterday described Mastriano’s campaign as “sputtering.” A recent poll by Muhlenberg College and CBS showed Democrat Josh Shapiro leading Mastriano by 11 points. The Republican candidate has had no television ads on the air in Pennsylvania since May. Shapiro has broadcast more than 23,000 ads in the state since the May primary. The Times also reports that the Republican Governors Association, which has contributed to the campaigns of Republican candidates in eight other states, has no plans to help Mastriano.

“We don’t fund lost causes and we don’t fund landslides,” Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona told an audience at Georgetown University recently. Ducey is the co-chair of the Republican Governors Association. “You have to show us something, you have to demonstrate that you can move numbers and you can raise resources,” Ducey told his audience, clearly referring to Mastriano, a candidate who has done neither.

Mastriano posted a Facebook video appeal for funds last Wednesday which, with only 4,700 page views, has gone exactly nowhere. “Really not finding a lot of support from national-level Republican organizations, so we’re calling on people across Pennsylvania and across the United States of America to give directly to our campaign,” Mastriano told his tiny Facebook audience. The Times reported that he was “glum-looking” in the video.

Previously, Mastriano had spent $5,000 trying to recruit supporters and small donations on the far-right social media site Gab, apparently without much success. A recent campaign finance report by Mastriano showed his campaign with $397,319. The finance report for the Shapiro campaign for the same time period showed him with $13.5 million on hand.

It's not hard to put a finger on what’s wrong with the Mastriano campaign. He doesn’t do media. He is surrounded by a wall of handlers and bodyguards whose job is to keep the press and even the public away from him, unless of course, the public has been vetted as supporters already by Mastriano’s advance team. He was recently accused of making an anti-Semitic attack on Shapiro when a video surfaced showing him saying, "This is something Josh Shapiro can't relate to. He grew up in a privileged neighborhood, attended one of the most privileged schools in the nation as a young man — not college, I'm talking about as a kid — sending his four kids to the same privileged, exclusive, elite school ... we talk about him having disdain for people like us. We saw that."

The school Mastriano referred to is a Jewish day school. Mastriano has previously come out for public funding of private education for children that would include Christian parochial schools, so there is little doubt which dog he was whistling to in his statement last week.

But perhaps the most telling detail about the Mastriano campaign is revealed in the rest of its finance report. Mastriano reported paying no salaries for campaign staff. None. But he did report making payments of some $43,000 to something called Misfit Creates, whose website claims it does something to help you “re-imagine your narrative.”

The website’s owner is Vishal Jetnarayan, who Mastriano’s campaign described in promotional emails as its campaign chairman. Although the Philadelphia NPR station WHYY describes Jetnarayan as “an unknown in Pennsylvania politics,” he is not unknown in Christian nationalist circles. He lives in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the same town where Mastriano lives, and on a religious website he runs, Jetnarayan claims that he works in two churches and describes himself as a prophet who speaks directly with God and can help others become able to do the same thing.

Mastriano has also made campaign appearances with Julie Green, another self-described prophet who is well-known in arch-conservative fundamentalist Christian circles. According to WHYY, she has previously accused Nancy Pelosi of drinking the blood of children and prophesied that “a wide variety of politicians will be killed for committing treason.”

With nearly 20 prominent state Republican figures recently coming out against Mastriano and pledging to work for the Shapiro campaign, it was icing on the proverbial cake when Liz Cheney announced yesterday that she will campaign against Mastriano and Kari Lake, who is running for governor in Arizona, both of whom are prominent election deniers. "We have to make sure Mastriano doesn't win,” Cheney told a crowd at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday.

But Mastriano shouldn’t worry that Cheney and other Republicans have turned against him. He’s got those several dozen campaign workers and other supporters who turned out to hear him speak in Harrisburg on his team to stay.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Mastriano Launches Anti-Semitic Attack On Shapiro For Attending Jewish Schools

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano is once again under fire for making what critics are saying were anti-Semitic comments after he attacked his Democratic rival, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, for attending private schools as a child.

Reporter Jacob Kornbluh of The Forward tweeted video of Mastriano saying at a campaign event on Wednesday: "This is something Josh Shapiro can't relate to. He grew up in a privileged neighborhood, attended one of the most privileged schools in the nation as a young man — not college, I'm talking about as a kid — sending his four kids to the same privileged, exclusive, elite school ... we talk about him having disdain for people like us. We saw that."

While Mastriano didn't mention specifically in the speech that the schools Shapiro attended are Jewish, critics say the references act as dogwhistles for Mastriano's audiences.

"Josh went to a Jewish school. This is Mastriano screaming 'Jew' at him," tweeted journalist David Sirota.

University of Chicago Divinity School scholar of Judaic studies Joel Swanson noted: "This 'privileged, exclusive, elite school' to which Josh Shapiro sent his children was a Jewish day school. We all know what Doug Mastriano means by this."

Shapiro attended two private Jewish day schools in suburban Philadelphia, and he and his family are practicing Conservative Jews, members of one of a number of branches of Judaism, following kosher dietary laws and observe other Jewish practices.

Mastriano is a Christian nationalist who has a long history of making anti-Semitic comments.

On multiple occasions, Mastriano has compared political issues in the United States to the Holocaust, the genocidal slaughter during World War II of 6 million Jews and millions of other members of social groups considered unworthy of living by the Nazi regime in Germany.

Mastriano has shared posts on social media that say abortion is "so much" worse than the Holocaust. He reacted to the firing of an actor from a television show over her own comparison of abortion to the Holocaust by posting on Feb. 11, 2021: "Mandalorian star Gina Carano is absolutely correct. The Cancel Culture mob is behaving like its [sic] 1930s Germany." In June 2020 he posted a meme comparing the preservation of the Auschwitz concentration camp as a memorial and a reminder to refusing to remove statues honoring Confederate soldiers that were erected long after the Civil War.

Mastriano has also as recently as last month falsely accused George Soros, the Jewish philanthropist whose family survived the Holocaust, of working with the Nazis during the war.

Mastriano paid thousands of dollars to recruit campaign supporters through the social media website Gab, a haven for anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, including the man who will stand trial on charges of carrying out the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

Jewish leaders have condemned Mastriano for his anti-Semitism, and Shapiro has featured those criticisms in campaign ads.

Mastriano has tried to blunt the criticism by noting that he had a man who goes by the name "Pastor Don" blow a shofar, a ram's horn trumpet used in Jewish rituals, at one of his campaign events. That in itself drew criticism from Jewish groups, who decry the appropriation of Jewish ritual and symbolism by some Christians for their own purposes.

The Pennsylvania governor's race is drawing national attention as Election Day draws nearer.

Mastriano is vying to take back the governor's mansion for Republicans from term-limited Democrat Tom Wolf in this swing state, which voted for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and President Joe Biden in 2020.

Despite the race being close at the presidential level, polling shows Shapiro with a clear lead with less than two months of campaigning left.

Shapiro has led every public poll in FiveThirtyEight's tracker, giving him an 11.3-point average lead over Mastriano.

Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race Tilt Democratic.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Prominent Republicans Endorsing Democrats Over 'Extremist' GOP Candidates

A growing number of prominent Republicans across the country are ditching their party's nominees in the midterm elections in favor of Democratic candidates, and many others are withholding endorsements, citing the need to fight back against "dangerous extremism." The endorsements come as the midterm election season heads into the home stretch.

More than half of voters in the United States, or 60 percent, will have a candidate on their ballot who either falsely denies the results of the 2020 presidential election or who won't say President Joe Biden was legitimately elected, according to FiveThirtyEight.

"If a Republican thinks the 2020 election was stolen despite multiple investigations finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud, they might not accept the results of the 2024 election, either," writes Nathaniel Rakich, a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight. "And if they're elected this November, they will be in a position to influence, and potentially overturn, the next presidential election."

On Sunday, a Republican state senator in Texas endorsed Democrat Mike Collier for lieutenant governor over incumbent Republican Dan Patrick.

"Dan Patrick is an extremist," state Sen. Kel Seliger said in an appearance on Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA's "Inside Texas Politics." Seliger joined Republican Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley in endorsing Collier over Patrick.

Patrick is a promoter of election conspiracy theories who has pushed former President Donald Trump's voter fraud lies and has made offensive comments in the past.

In March 2020, as the coronavirus began to spread across the country, Patrick pushed against shutdowns for safety's sake and said of older Americans who were considered more vulnerable to the virus: "We'll take care of ourselves. But don't sacrifice the country." Patrick has also railed against academic freedom and teaching about the history of race in the United States. He's said he wants to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest, but supports an exception if the life of the pregnant person is at risk, and falsely said such situations are "rare."

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Monday that 150 Republicans, including former lawmakers, business leaders, and staffers to previous Republican governors in Michigan, are endorsing her for reelection over her opponent, Republican Tudor Dixon.

Former Rep. Joe Schwarz, one of the Michigan Republicans who endorsed Whitmer, said in a news release that Whitmer "has proven herself as a strong leader who is fighting to make Michigan a better place for everyone – regardless of your party affiliation."

In Pennsylvania, more than a dozen Republicans have endorsed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro over Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, citing Mastriano's "extremism." In July, nine Republicans backed Shapiro, calling Mastriano and his far-right views "dangerous" and "divisive," and another seven Republicans endorsed Shapiro's bid on August 30.

"I just don't think he [Mastriano] really respects our electoral system and he's even suggested he might appoint some people to be Secretary of State who, in my view, might not be fair in administering elections in this state," former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent said in July.

Like Patrick, Mastriano is an election denier and promoter of conspiracy theories. He was present at the Jan. 6 insurrection by supporters of Trump at the U.S. Capitol and even chartered buses that were used by Trump supporters to travel to the rally preceding the riot. He's being investigated for his involvement in a plot to overturn the 2020 election results by sending a false slate of Republican electors to the Capitol. If elected, he'd have the power to appoint as secretary of state an election denier who could overturn the election results. He has also promised to illegally force every voter to reregister to vote.

"Although I am a long-standing Republican, I am deeply troubled by Doug Mastriano's embrace of dangerous extremism," former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said in a news release. "Josh Shapiro, on the other hand, is a staunch defender of our democratic institutions and will lead Pennsylvania with honor and integrity. I am proud to support his campaign for Governor."

Other Republicans have refused to endorse their own party's nominees in the November midterms, though they haven't backed the Democratic nominee either.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan refused to back the GOP nominee for governor, Dan Cox. Hogan said Cox, who also arranged buses to Washington on January 6, 2021, is a "nut" and a "QAnon whack job" who is not "mentally stable."

In Massachusetts, retiring GOP Gov. Charlie Baker refused to endorse Republican nominee Geoff Diehl, another election denier who has also pushed COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

In Arizona, Meghan McCain, the television personality and daughter of the late Sen. John McCain, slammed GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake for being too extreme. Lake has made election denialism a cornerstone of her campaign, and has vowed to jail her Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, for her role in administering the 2020 election.

"Congratulations to my home state for [fully] making the transition to full blown MAGA/conspiracy theory/fraudster," McCain tweeted after Lake's primary win in August. "The voters have spoken - be careful what you wish for…"

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Ultra-Right: The Bizarre And Extraordinary Extremism Of Doug Mastriano

Pennsylvania Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano posed for an Army War College faculty photo wearing a Confederate uniform in 2014, according to images published by Reuters. A few days later, Media Matters' Eric Hananoki posted video from 2020 of Mastriano complimenting a man wearing a Confederate battle flag as a cape in front of a statue of General Robert E. Lee.

The Confederate battle flag is a well-known symbol of modern right-wing extremism and remains a common sight in parts of the country, including as part of the design of some state flags.

But Confederate imagery is only the most obvious and familiar example of Mastriano's deep connection to a vast constellation of far-right groups and ideas: His campaign has employed militia members; he counts a number of self-proclaimed prophets as supporters and staff; he has pushed a legislative agenda based on Christian nationalist policies as a state senator; and he has repeatedly used sometimes violent far-right Christian symbolism in his public life.

Mastriano, who received former President Donald Trump's endorsement during the Republican primary, spent thousands of dollars from his campaign coffers to bus Pennsylvanians to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 and was present on the Capitol grounds during the insurrection that day by Trump supporters.

Several of Mastriano's supporters have been convicted of crimes related to their participation in the insurrection, including at least one who rode on a bus chartered by Mastriano. At first, the Republican denied being present on the Capitol grounds after violence broke out, but a radio interview unearthed by the website Pennsylvania Spotlight revealed that he had seen at least two attempts to break into the Capitol building. Footage uncovered by online activists showed Mastriano and his wife, Rebecca, breaching barricades abandoned by police outside of the building.

The House committee investigating the January 6 attack subpoenaed Mastriano in February to ask about his presence at the Capitol that day and his role helping the Trump campaign assemble a slate of fake Republican electors in Pennsylvania, a state that Biden won. After winning the Republican primary, the candidate agreed to a voluntary interview and provided documents to the committee but refused to answer questions during the interview and left after less than 15 minutes.

Mastriano is now suing the committee, alleging that it does not have the proper authority to make witnesses testify.

Dr. Heidi Beirich, the co-founder and leader of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, told The American Independent Foundation, "There's no question that Confederate symbols are racist and directly tied to the Confederacy's defense of slavery and Black oppression."

"It may appear that the Confederate flag is a 'soft' representation of white supremacy, but its ubiquitousness in those circles shows white supremacists know exactly what it means. We shouldn't forget that the riots in Charlottesville in 2017 came about because racial extremists wanted to protect a Robert E. Lee statue," Beirich added.

Insurrectionists and militiamen

A member of Mastriano's security team, Scott Nagle, was listed in January as the Lancaster County regional leader for the Oath Keepers, the website LancasterOnline reported last month. The Oath Keepers are a far-right militia group that was extensively involved in the insurrection. Eleven members of the militia, including founder and leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, a U.S. Army veteran, were indicted on charges, including seditious conspiracy, by a federal grand jury at the beginning of the year.

According to prosecutors, several Oath Keepers established a makeshift base of operations in a Comfort Inn outside Washington ahead of Jan. 6, which they stocked with explosives and firearms in preparation for overturning President Joe Biden's victory.

Nagle has reportedly been photographed on several occasions with Mastriano.

Beirich noted that Oath Keepers members are also involved in election races this year: "Self-declared Oath Keepers members are running for office in some states. In a way, the line between the far right of the GOP and these extremist groups has become blurred, and their ideas are finding even more footing in the mainstream."

At the Fourth of July parade in Glenside, Pennsylvania, Mastriano supporters were reported to have marched with a Three Percenter flag, a symbol of a right-wing extremist anti-government ideology within the militia movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Theocracy by any other name

Mastriano is deeply tied to Christian nationalist extremists who say they want to govern America on the basis of religious principles. Many challenge the notion of a separation between church and state; Mastriano himself in April called it a "myth."

In March, Mastriano campaigned with Julie Green, a self-described "prophet" who says that Nancy Pelosi drinks the blood of children — a claim that Media Matters notes is aligned with the QAnon conspiracy theory that former President Donald Trump is fighting a Democrat-led "deep state" that runs an international satanic child-trafficking ring.

Mastriano is closely associated with regional leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement of charismatic and Pentecostal preachers who believe that America ought to be governed according to their interpretation of Biblical law. NAR-affiliated leaders are reported to believe that God has bestowed the gift of prophecy on some in the movement and that demonic forces are at work in the world and must be fought by spiritual means.

Abby Abildness, who has worked in the Pennsylvania state Capitol as a lobbyist, is a prominent figure in the New Apostolic Reformation. She has interviewed Mastriano for her podcast and, in one incident, walked the grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park on July 4, 2021, with Mastriano and his wife, praying that God defend the park from antifa amid online rumors that members of that movement planned to deface monuments and burn Americans flags — rumors that were later revealed to be the work of a social media prankster.

Salon's Frederick Clarkson reported in July that Mastriano had sponsored bills based on model legislation distributed originally through the so-called "Project Blitz," produced by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, with which Abildness is affiliated. The bills would have required that the Bible be taught in public schools and allowed adoption agencies to refuse to work with same-sex couples.

An appeal to heaven

Mastriano's gubernatorial campaign and public life are steeped in right-wing Christian nationalist symbolism, including the use of Jewish ritual items that have taken on meaning in Christian nationalist circles, such as the shofar, or ram's horn, blown as a trumpet by Jews on certain holidays and used now by some Christians to declare spiritual warfare. A man wearing a Jewish prayer shawl blew a shofar at the launch of Mastriano's campaign.

The New Yorker reported in 2021 that Mastriano has hung a flag bearing the phrase "An appeal to heaven" on his office door in Harrisburg. The phrase, taken from 17th century English philosopher John Locke, refers to the right of people to revolt against their leaders when they become tyrants, and the so-called Pine Tree Flag bearing the phrase was first flown by Continental Army warships during the American Revolution.

More recently, the flag has reportedly been adopted by the pro-Trump Christian preacher Dutch Sheets as a symbol of "gathering a network of fellow believers serving Christ in public office to fellowship, encourage, and serve one another in our common mission." It was carried by participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Mastriano's campaign has paid Gab, a social media platform that is a haven for antisemites, white supremacists, and Christian nationalists, to promote his campaign. The website's founder, Andrew Torba, publicly espouses a multitude of conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism.

Mastriano has been reportedly playing down his more extremist views and associates since winning the Republican primary. Reports note that he rarely talks about abortion on the campaign trail, despite having said during the primary campaign that passing a ban on the procedure is his "number one issue." In July, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that he had deleted social media posts containing videos about conspiracy theories and his extreme views.

Despite his efforts, more than a dozen prominent Republicans have rejected Mastriano as too extreme and have endorsed his Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

However, many state Republican figures have closed ranks around Mastriano.

Jared Holt, senior research manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, told The American Independent Foundation, "The entity that could course-correct [extremism] most efficiently would be the Republican Party."

Beyond that, Holt stressed the importance of participation in the democratic process and government. "If there are 20 conspiracy theorists showing up at a school board meeting to intimidate members, there's no reason why there shouldn't be at least 20 people there to offer a countermessage," he said.

Shapiro has led Mastriano in every poll of the race taken so far, although some, such as Emerson College's, conducted in late August, have the candidates within the margin of error. And while the campaigns haven't had to release fundraising numbers since June, those reports showed Shapiro with $20 million on hand to Mastriano's $954,000. The next round of campaign finance reports are due in late September.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

On Facebook, Mastriano Praised Confederate Displays At Gettysburg

In one of his regular Facebook livestreams, Doug Mastriano in 2020 approached armed men next to a Confederate flag and thanked them for “being vigilant” in supposedly protecting Robert E. Lee’s statue at Gettysburg. He also praised someone for wearing a half-American, half-Confederate flag, saying he “can't think of a better cape.”

The Gettysburg incident is another example of how Mastriano, who is a right-wing commentator and Republican gubernatorial nominee, has been connected to social media-fueled extremism. He has promoted QAnon; he has a “special relationship” with an online “prophet” who pushes violence-filled conspiracy theories; he has shared anti-Muslim content; he has posted an image claiming Roe v. Wade is “so much” worse than the Holocaust; and he has paid social media platform Gab $5,000 for “consulting” work. He also participated in the January 6 insurrection, which was fueled by social media and right-wing media falsehoods.

Mastriano’s view of the Confederacy has been in focus in recent days after Reuters reported that in 2014, “Mastriano posed in Confederate uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College. … Mastriano is the only one wearing a Confederate uniform.”

Following that report, Media Matters found 2020 video showing that the Pennsylvania Republican, who serves in the state Senate, has an apparent fondness for people who associate with the Confederacy.

During another portion of the video, Mastriano talked with someone wearing a half-confederate, half-U.S. flag and told him: “You’re looking good there, man. I can't think of a better cape.”

Mastriano’s self-filmed interactions with the pro-Confederates don’t appear to have been previously reported. A picture of that interaction has appeared online. And The New Yorker’s Eliza Griswold referenced Mastriano’s appearance and a portion of the video in a May 9, 2021, article, writing:

On nightly Facebook fireside chats, he suggested that his viewers find new congregations if their pastors weren’t leading in-person worship services. He gained increasingly extreme followers; last June, at a gun-rights protest on the steps of the state capitol, he posed for pictures with white men in fatigues carrying AR-15s and several others in Hawaiian shirts, a hallmark of the Boogaloo Bois, a white-nationalist militia. In July, Mastriano attended a rally on the Gettysburg battlefield, where militia members gathered in response to a hoax circulated on social media that Antifa was going to topple Confederate statues. “A lot of people here just keeping an eye on stuff,” he said. “Americans doing American things. Isn’t that beautiful?”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.