Conservatives Who Tried to Derail Doug Mastriano’s Pennsylvania Primary Bid Consider Supporting him in November

Doug Mastriano (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

After spending millions to defeat Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano in the run-up to last month’s Pennsylvania primary, an influential conservative political group is now considering backing him in the general election against Democratic nominee and Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

The decision underscores the position some Keystone State Republicans now find themselves in following the victory of Mastriano, a far-right state official whose relentless focus on the 2020 presidential election prompted Republican donors and lawmakers to invalidate his eligibility in a November match against Shapiro in to ask question .

In a way, it’s not surprising that a conservative organization is considering backing the GOP nominee for governor. But a Mastriano confirmation before November would be quite a turnaround for the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs. The Harrisburg-based conservative organization is affiliated with a political action committee that spent millions in the months leading up to the crowded primary support of GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain in hopes he could defeat Mastriano, whom Commonwealth Partners leaders did not see as a viable candidate for the general election.

But in the weeks leading up to the primary, Mastriano led the polls growth. Then came what Brouillette saw as the final death knell for McSwain’s campaign: On May 14, President Donald Trump became official endorsed Mastriano.

“I pushed Bill to stop at this point because I felt it would be the end of his ability to rise in the polls,” said Matt Brouillette, President and CEO of Commonwealth Partners The shipping last week before meeting Mastriano.

Three days before the May 17 primary, the Republican organization was at a crossroads: it could stay with McSwain or pick another candidate who might be better positioned to defeat Mastriano.

On May 16, the organization announced that it would revoke its support for McSwain and instead line up behind GOP nominee Lou Barletta, who had been second to Mastriano in the polls for weeks. “No other organization has spent anywhere near the millions that our associated political action committee has spent educating voters about the dangers of a Mastriano nomination,” the organization said in a press release.

Needless to say, the effort didn’t pay off. On May 17, Mastriano sailed to victory 44 percent the Republican primary vote. Barletta finally followed him 24 points.

Now Commonwealth Partners will decide whether the GOP gubernatorial candidate has what it takes to defeat Shapiro in November. Brouillette met with Mastriano last Thursday and said in an interview this week that Commonwealth Partners would consider backing his campaign if he could show he was attractive to swing voters.

“We would certainly hope that we could get behind a try from Mastriano, but he needs to show us that he’s viable and capable of beating Josh,” Brouillette said The shipping On Wednesday. “He certainly believes he has tapped into a bottom wave of disaffected voters and believes it extends beyond Republicans to independents and Democrats. I need to be shown that this is true.”

But appealing to swing voters is no easy task for a candidate who has spent the months leading up to the primary allegedly blocked Reporter from his campaign rallies and attempt to overturn Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results in his capacity as state senator. Mastriano has also come under fire for spending thousands of dollars on charter buses to take people to the “Save America March” in Washington, DC on April 6th that day last year.

Mastriano nonetheless managed to secure the nomination in a landslide victory, despite the handful of influential Pennsylvania Republican donors and activists involved in the 11th hour effort to bolster support for Barletta. Per reporting from the Philadelphia investigatorsthe New York Timesand PoliticallyThose talks also included RNC Committee Member Andy Reilly, Allegheny County GOP Chairman Sam DeMarco, a Republican donor jeff jassand former GOP gubernatorial candidate Jake Corman.

It remains to be seen how many of these individuals will endorse Mastriano before November.

“I don’t think there’s a need to support him — he’s the candidate,” said Cambria County GOP Chairwoman Jackie Kulback, who also participated in the talks about the association behind Barletta.

Endorsements are a hot topic for Pennsylvania Republicans this election cycle. The state GOP shocked voters this year by voting to disagree for the first time in decades in this year’s Republican gubernatorial and US Senate primary. “No endorsement by the party paved the way for a multi-candidate split in which the most radical actors could succeed,” said a Republican political activist involved in the GOP race to succeed GOP Sen. Pat Toomey saidThe shipping Last month.

Kulback said if Mastriano is serious about winning in the fall, now is the time to engage with a larger audience. “He has to talk to reporters, whether he sees them as conservative, liberal or mainstream, because the only way you get your message across is through the press,” she said.

The Mastriano campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Brouillette said that in order to win Commonwealth Partners’ support, Mastriano would have to prove he would not spend the entire race taking the 2020 presidential election back to court. Now, more than a year since Biden took office, Brouillete believes that focusing on the 2020 election is a losing strategy and that Pennsylvania voters are more concerned about kitchen-table issues like inflation and keeping schools open.

“The Democrats obviously want to go up against Donald Trump and the big lie, so the question remains whether or not Doug will take the bait,” Brouillette said last week. “You cannot win the 2020 election. It’s over.”

In a way, the Pennsylvania Democrats have already gotten their wish. Politically reported last month that “Shapiro and the state Democratic Party sent out sales letters [Mastriano]’ ahead of the primary, a clear indicator that Democrats see him as too extreme to win a general election.

Brouillette said anti-Shapiro publicity will remain a priority ahead of November, regardless of whether Commonwealth Partners ultimately backs Mastriano: “We have a plan to educate voters on Josh Shapiro’s progressive Pennsylvania agenda and we certainly intend to do everything.” to do to create an environment that pushes back the progressive Democrat agenda.”

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