Call them “Never Mastrianos”.
A group of Pennsylvania Republicans with long experience in government and politics will form a Super PAC on Wednesday to support Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, in a rejection of GOP nominee, State Senator Doug Mastriano.
Republicans for Shapiro are being led by former US Rep. Jim Greenwood, a Bucks County Republican who organized a similar effort in 2020 to oppose then-President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term.
This comes as Shapiro is expected to announce a “first wave of Republican endorsements,” including Greenwood, on Wednesday.
A self-proclaimed Never Trumper, Greenwood rattled off a long list of reasons for rejecting Mastriano in an interview with The Inquirer.
These include: Mastriano’s attendance at the January 6, 2021 rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, his use of campaign funds to drive supporters to the event, his repeated claims of having debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, his vow banning all abortions in the state without exception for rape, incest, or to save the life of the pregnant person, his opposition to gay marriage, and his comparison of gun control policies to Nazism.
“I think he’s an extreme, dangerous guy who’s out of touch with the majority of the people of Pennsylvania,” said Greenwood, who also expressed concern that Mastriano as governor is facing a crisis in the 2024 Pennsylvania election could trigger if Trump seeks the presidency again.
Greenwood said he doesn’t know Shapiro but has heard he’s “a very smart, very thoughtful, mainstream man with good character.” He’s hosting a fundraiser for Shapiro in September and noted that he raised $2 million at a virtual fundraiser for President Joe Biden in 2020.
» READ MORE: Josh Shapiro and Doug Mastriano’s abortion records are long and drastically different
Shapiro is also expected to announce Republican recommendations from former US Rep. Charlie Dent, who represented a Lehigh Valley district; Ken Davis, former chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman of Montgomery County; former Speaker of the House Denny O’Brien of Philadelphia; Morgan Boyd, Chairman of the Lawrence County Commission; and three other former members of parliament.
Craig Snyder, a former chief of staff to the late US Senator Arlen Specter, will lead the Republican political operation for Shapiro. He said the group will reach out to Republicans who share concerns about Democrat politics and politics and could be caught in a “red wave” of party enthusiasm during the midterm elections.
Snyder, who briefly ran for the US Senate last year, is hoping to persuade voters from his party to split their ticket to support Shapiro while voting for Mehmet Oz, the famous doctor who is now the Republican nominee for the US Senate is.
“Mastriano is unacceptable,” Snyder said. “You can withhold support from Mastriano without declaring yourself progressive.”
The group’s founding members include veterans from the administrations of former Republican governors. Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge, including Murray Dickman, George Grode, James Seif, Bob Wilburn, Walter Cohen and former Congressmen Joe Conti, David Heckler and Bob Jubelirer.
In 2020, Greenwood organized 27 former Republican members of Congress — three senators and 24 representatives from 18 states — to support Biden on the first day of the Republican National Convention. At the time, he denounced Trump as a “small-minded, indifferent, self-aggrandizing compulsive liar.”
Biden narrowly won Pennsylvania that year, prompting Trump to falsely claim the election was “rigged.” Early polls show Mastriano level with Shapiro.
» READ MORE: Doug Mastriano sticks to his MAGA playbook in general election
Mastriano does not respond to requests for media interviews, instead sticking to campaigns through Facebook videos, conservative radio shows and podcasts, and direct outreach to supporters. On Friday, Mastriano emailed a donation request, noting that Shapiro has “establishment support and corporate dollars flowing,” while he doesn’t.
“With our primary now behind us, our campaign is ready to turn on our big guns, unite the GOP, and build our upswing by Election Day,” Mastriano wrote in that pleading.
Snyder said the group will encourage Republicans to record videos themselves explaining why they will oppose Mastriano. These will be involved in an attempt to reach out to like-minded voters for public relations.
“Donors come up with the idea of targeting 5% of voters because all of our elections are so damn close,” Snyder said. “If you can influence a small part of them, it can influence the outcome.”