State Sen. Doug Mastriano is the only Republican in the May 17 primary for Pennsylvania governor who has spoken publicly about seeking a financial signal from God to launch his campaign.
He’s also the only candidate in the race to be subpoenaed by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, where he was seen passing through police barriers but not entering the Capitol.
These are just some of the ways Mastriano stands out in a crowded GOP field, while mostly refusing to appear with or engage with his competitors — or with journalists. Instead, Mastriano sticks to a schedule of events where he encounters only supporters and fills his Facebook pages with videos about the campaign.
And it seems to be working, at least with the party’s Trump-friendly base.
Mastriano consistently polls near the top of the pack. That’s thanks thanks to strong name recognition among supporters of former President Donald Trump, whose lies about the 2020 election being stolen from him have been fully embraced by Mastriano.
What is Doug Mastriano’s background?
Mastriano, 58, served for three decades in the U.S. Army, retiring in 2017 as a colonel after serving in Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
His first campaign, a 2018 primary for a U.S. House seat in central Pennsylvania, ended in defeat. He won a 2019 special election for his state Senate district, and a full four-year term in 2020.
Mastriano lives in Fayetteville, a small burg of 3,200 people in central Pennsylvania’s Franklin County.
What are Doug Mastriano’s top policy priorities?
Mastriano touts his campaign as an effort to restore freedoms he says have been taken away through “heavy-handed draconian policies” to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s also one of the most prominent election deniers in Pennsylvania.
“There are a lot of people running for governor now,” Mastriano says in a campaign video about COVID policies. “And I look across the field, and I can say none of them did anything to alleviate the suffering of the people of Pennsylvania.”
Mastriano also promises to repeal the 2019 state law that allowed for no-excuse mail ballots. He falsely claims the law “compromised our elections,” but rarely notes that he voted in support of it, like most Republicans in the state legislature.
And Mastriano has co-sponsored so-called “heartbeat” legislation that would ban abortion once /cardiac activity is detected in the embryo, usually around six weeks into a pregnancy. Many women don’t know they’re pregnant that early, effectively banning most abortions.
Who is backing Doug Mastriano?
Mastriano, like his Republican opponents, is eager for an endorsement from Trump. He said in 2021 that Trump encouraged him to run for governor, prompting Trump’s camp to note that wasn’t an endorsement.
And like other candidates, Mastriano has surrounded himself with Trump-affiliated advisers, including former national security advisor Mike Flynn, and Jenna Ellis, a former Trump campaign lawyer. Trump’s spokesperson endorsed Mastriano last month but made clear she wasn’t speaking for Trump then.
While Mastriano polls near the top of the field – with a sizable chunk of the electorate still undecided – his fund-raising has lagged his competitors. Mastriano and his wife told a church congregation in October that they were waiting on a sign from God about financing for the race, which he entered in January.
His campaign is popular with small-dollar donors. Mastriano reported raising $372,000 in the first three months of 2022, with almost half of that coming in contributions of $250 or less.
What else should I know?
In the days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, Mastriano faced calls for his resignation from the state legislature. The congressional committee probing the attack subpoenaed Mastriano in February, seeking information “about efforts to send false slates of electors to Washington and change the outcome of the 2020 election.”
Mastriano supported efforts to have the legislature to send a pro-Trump slate of electors to Congress, spoke with Trump in the aftermath of the election, and was present on Capitol grounds the day of the riot, according to U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee.
Mastriano, who spent thousands of dollars in campaign money to bus supporters to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, has said he did not cross police lines and left when things started to turn violent. Video that circulated online after the event appears to show Mastriano and his wife walking through breached police barricades that day.
He dismissed the people who circulated those images as “angry partisans” so “blinded by their hatred for all things Donald Trump.”