Some elections are like NASCAR races — drivers may swap a little paint while trying to advance, but the checkered flag at the finish line is always in focus.

Some elections — say, the Republican primary for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor — are more akin to a demolition derby. One driver will come out on top, but their ride will be all busted up by the end.

Which brings us to Teddy Daniels, the former cop, wounded U.S. Army combat veteran, and Jan. 6 insurrection enthusiast running for the state’s No. 2 job. Some Republicans are expressing concern about his controversial past.

One of the eight other Republicans in the primary, State Rep. Russ Diamond of Lebanon County, released a six-minute “Meet Teddy Daniels” video Sunday that inventoried those concerns. That includes Daniels’ filing a statement of financial interest that said he’s retired on disability despite frequently talking about starting and operating companies, and his troubled work history at two police departments.

Diamond clearly wants voters to seek investigations — the video displays a Social Security fraud prevention hotline number — into Daniels’ disability payments.

And Diamond drives it home himself, claiming Daniels presents himself “as some sort of great American hero” but is “more of a great American con man.”

» READ MORE: Trump is sowing chaos in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

Diamond, who has his own a history of controversy, said his video draws from information collected by Ron Harper Jr., a self-described conservative good-government activist from Lancaster County.

Harper tells Clout he pleaded with Daniels at a Lancaster County event Saturday to get out of the race. Daniels, in a Facebook post later that day, suggested Harper was “working with the radical left” and might be funded by “dark money.” Harper, who supports Diamond, said hes not being paid.

Daniels is a big talker on social media and in friendly candidate forums, but he declined to be interviewed. In a short statement, he referred to “convicted criminal loser candidates and GOP establishment hacks” pushing “baseless smears” and “sending hired thugs to threaten me to drop out of the race.”

Diamond sees that as referencing his 2015 arrest for public drunkenness and previous reports of two women filing for protection-from-abuse orders against him, in 2002 and 2013.

“Con men always deflect,” Diamond said when he heard Daniels’ statement.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Franklin County Republican running for governor with Daniels as his running mate, took the stage after being approached at Saturday’s event by Harper. He suggested some in his party are hypocrites for praising military veterans while criticizing Daniels.

“It disgusts me to see what other Republicans say about him,” Mastriano said.

Two other Republicans in the race, Jeff Coleman and Chris Frye, issued their own video last month, pleading with Mastriano to dial back Daniels’ personal attacks on them. Mastriano appeared unmoved.

Shapiro to Sims: ‘Cease and desist’

The ribbon and checkmark go by in a flash — less then two seconds in a 15-second digital ad — with Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims smiling next to a picture of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Three words in that frame — “endorsed Josh Shapiro” — provoked Shapiro to send Sims a “cease and desist” letter, demanding the ad be pulled.

Shapiro, the only Democrat on the May 17 Democratic primary ballot for governor, in early January endorsed State Rep. Austin Davis of Allegheny County for lieutenant governor. The state Democratic Party endorsed the Shapiro-Davis ticket in late January.

A lawyer for Shapiro’s camp wrote to Sims last Friday that his ad “suggests” Shapiro endorsed him.

Shapiro’s campaign notes it’s “unorthodox” for the de facto nominee to endorse in the lieutenant governor’s primary, making it “so valuable” to Davis, and accuses Sims of trying to “mislead viewers.”

Sims was on a shortlist of potential running mates for Shapiro last fall before Davis got the nod.

Sims pushed back Monday with a letter from his own lawyer, pointing out that the ad only says Sims has endorsed Shapiro. Then he bought $50,000 in cable television time for the ad. Davis is free, Sims’ campaign said, to run his own ads.

Davis did indeed run his own ad, part of a $1.2 million buy he had in place for broadcast and cable television, according to AdImpact, which tracks political advertising. It shows him walking down a street with Shapiro, noting his status as the actual endorsed running mate.

Sims is at a financial disadvantage here. He had $317,000 in the bank as of March 28, while Davis had $625,000, and Shapiro had $16 million, according to state campaign finance reports.

Kunal Atit, Davis’ campaign manager, called Sims’ ad “deceptive and unethical,” noting that seven Democratic state House and Senate caucus leaders issued a letter last month complaining that Sims puts “his own self-interests above that of the party.”


No Drama Conservative (noun): A political leader (typically Republican), who advances pro-freedom, pro-family policies without name calling, hysterics, cursing, mocking, sarcasm, rudeness, or incivility.”

— Former State Rep. Jeff Coleman, a Cumberland County Republican running for lieutenant governor, who spoke to Clout this week from his “No Drama Conservative” bus tour of Pennsylvania. He tweeted the definition above.

Given the fractious nature of that primary, Clout waits to see if anyone turns dramatic on Coleman, considering the most notable politician to embrace the “no drama” approach. (Hint: He was the 44th president.)

Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.