Doug Mastriano, the Republican state senator from Pennsylvania known for his ties to right-wing extremists and his involvement in former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, announced Thursday night that he will not run for the United States Senate, despite hinting for weeks that he was about to launch his campaign.
Mastriano made the surprise announcement with his wife, Rebbie, during a Facebook Live video.
“At this time, we have decided not to run for the US Senate, but to continue serving in Harrisburg,” Mastriano said, referring to the state capital. “So I know for some it’s going to be disappointing, for others it’s not going to be disappointing because you’re like, ‘Who’s going to take their seat?’ You know, ‘Who’s going to be our voice in Harrisburg?’”
Mastriano added that he would support whoever becomes the Republican candidate for the Senate seat “because I don’t want any other Republican candidate to go through what we went through last year when our own party betrayed us,” a reference to his belief that the party did not adequately support him during his run for Governor of Pennsylvania.
Mastriano had previously suggested that he would run in the 2024 race, despite concerns from fellow Republicans that his candidacy could thwart the party’s chances of gaining control of the US Senate. Those concerns stemmed largely from the Mastriano performed poorly in last year’s gubernatorial race, losing to Democrat Josh Shapiro by roughly 800,000 votes.
His surprise announcement Thursday is likely to be music to the ears of Republicans across the country.
Senate Republicans, according to a recent report in Politico, had viewed Mastriano as ineligible and hoped to endorse Dave McCormick in the state primary. McCormick, a former hedge fund chief executive, ran in the Republican primary for the Senate last year, narrowly losing to television personality Mehmet Oz.
Even Trump, who endorsed Mastriano during the 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary, had allegedly voiced private concerns that having Mastriano’s name in the 2024 bid could hurt the former president’s chances of winning back the White House.
Pennsylvania State Representative Russ Diamond posted a thread of 14 tweets earlier this week imploring others not to back Mastriano.
“Today I am calling on all sensible Palestinian Authority Republicans to join me in calling for Doug Mastriano to drop any plans he may have to run for the United States Senate in 2024,” he wrote.
Diamond also shared a screenshot of a text he apparently sent to Mastriano last month.
“Her appearance at the top of the Republican ticket last year undoubtedly contributed to the Republicans losing their majority in the Palestinian Authority House of Representatives,” the text message reads. “And I fear that will be repeated in 2024, as nothing in the state has changed to mitigate that impact.”
Mastriano had brushed aside such concerns in an interview with reporters earlier this week.
“Of any of the detractors, none have had the balls to look me in the eye and have a conversation,” he said. according to Penn Live. “It’s right behind a keyboard.”
Mastriano went on to describe the criticism as “irrelevant.”
“It is the tree that falls in the forest, nobody listens to it,” he said.
A March poll by Public Policy Polling showed Mastriano leading McCormick by as much as 18 percentage points in a potential primary matchup. However, a Franklin & Marshall College poll in April showed incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey leading Mastriano by 16 points in a general election race.
Mastriano first emerged as a national figure in 2020, when he attempted to pass a resolution in the Pennsylvania state Senate to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the key presidential battleground state and hand the election over to Trump.
On January 6, 2021, Mastriano organized buses in Pennsylvania to send his supporters to the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC, which eventually escalated into an attack on the United States Capitol. During the insurrection, Mastriano was seen marching near the Capitol steps as rioters walked past police barricades.
He later made a statement before a House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
While seeking the governorship in 2022, Mastriano led an insular campaign that was hostile to the mainstream media. His Democratic opponent, Shapiro, often pointed out Mastriano’s unpopular positions on issues like abortion — which the Republican wanted to ban with no exceptions for rape, incest, or saving the mother’s life.
Shapiro also highlighted Mastriano’s campaign’s extensive ties to right-wing extremism, such as paid consulting fees for a social media platform run by a racist anti-Semite; hiring a man with ties to the militia as a security guard; and appearances by Mastriano at events hosted by believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Mastriano, who frequently invokes his apocalyptic Christian faith, also appeared next door and sought the advice of self-proclaimed “prophets” such as campaign manager Vishal Jetnarayan, who has said that speak directly to God.
Julie Green, another “prophet”, frequently appeared on the campaign trail with Mastriano, he once introduced him at a QAnon event in Gettysburg reciting a message he claimed to have received from on high.
“Yes, Doug, I am here for you and I have not abandoned you”, Green sayingreading the supposed message of God. “The time has come to undo their great fall and the great robbery. So keep your faith in me.”
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