Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

As Mastriano airs his first TV ads, Shapiro paints him as ‘dangerous’ on abortion

Josh Shapiro keeps defining Doug Mastriano as "extreme" for wanting to ban all abortions in Pennsylvania. Mastriano's first TV ads in the race for governor don't mention the issue.

Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks about women rights on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 during a news conference at the Ala Stanford’s Woman’s Health Clinic in Philadelphia.
Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks about women rights on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 during a news conference at the Ala Stanford’s Woman’s Health Clinic in Philadelphia.Read moreJose F. Moreno / Staff Photographer

Josh Shapiro continued Tuesday to cast Doug Mastriano as “dangerous and extreme” for seeking a total ban on abortions in Pennsylvania, just as his GOP rival started reintroducing himself to some voters with a pair of television campaign ads.

Shapiro, the state attorney general and Democratic nominee for governor, made his pitch at a health clinic in the Swampoodle section of North Philadelphia, noting that Mastriano has called an abortion ban with no exceptions his “No. 1 issue” and once suggested criminally charging pregnant people who receive the procedure and doctors who perform it.

Shapiro has vowed to veto any legislation from the Republican-controlled state legislature that would further restrict abortion in the state, where it is generally legal through 24 weeks into pregnancy.

But while he also promised to “make sure that we expand health-care access,” Shapiro refused to say what he would do if lawmakers pushed a bill to broaden abortion access beyond the current law.

“I think we have to recognize the reality here in Pennsylvania today, and that is we have a legislature that wants to take away the protections under Pennsylvania law,” Shapiro said. “And I’ll protect them.”

Shapiro would remain attorney general if Mastriano wins in November. The Democrat said he would have to consider “what legal options I have” if Mastriano signed into law a full ban on abortion and the Attorney General’s Office was asked to defend that legislation in court.

Tuesday’s news conference resonated with the national political conversation — Democrats focusing on anger after the U.S. Supreme Court this summer struck down Roe v. Wade as Republicans try to steer the narrative toward economic issues like inflation and energy production.

Shapiro has vastly out-raised Mastriano in campaign contributions, airing ads statewide seeking to define the Republican state senator as too extreme.

» READ MORE: Mastriano mocks Shapiro as ‘little Josh.’ Shapiro’s revenge: a massive bank account

Mastriano’s two new ads, his first of the general election, focus on his 30 years’ service in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of colonel. He speaks about leadership and working to prevent suicide among soldiers.

In a news release Monday, the GOP candidate said he would spend $1 million to air two versions of the ad, one 60 seconds long, the other 30 seconds.

But AdImpact, which tracks political advertising, reported only $415,000 in reserved time on broadcast channels in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg for the final five weeks before the Nov. 8 general election, leaving Mastriano off the air in Philadelphia, the state’s largest media market.

Asked about that discrepancy, the Mastriano campaign did not respond. It has generally ignored requests for comment from mainstream media outlets.

In an appeal emailed to supporters Monday, Mastriano wrote that “our ability to amplify this message is tied directly to the amount of money we raised from core supporters like you.” He also complained that people who support his values are not planning to vote for him because “they’re only hearing lies about me from Josh Shapiro and the far-left media.”

Shapiro has $7.7 million reserved in television time in the next five weeks — the bulk on broadcast channels and an additional $770,000 for cable channels — with $3.5 million dedicated to the Philadelphia market and smaller amounts set for every other television market in the state.

Mastriano has been outspent before, investing $429,182 in primary campaign commercials, with $247,000 for cable television, $125,244 for radio, and $57,000 for digital ads.

Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a conservative political action committee, spent $13 million trying to boost other Republicans in the crowded May primary in an unsuccessful effort to stop Mastriano. The PAC had been running anti-Shapiro television ads but has abandoned that effort.

With no primary challenger, Shapiro still spent $4.2 million on television ads before the primary. He courted controversy, airing ads that singled out Mastriano and were seen as an effort to boost the Republican’s chances and define him as a general election opponent.

Shapiro’s general election advertising budget, according to AdImpact, is just under $30.4 million from May 18 to Nov. 8, with $21 million for broadcast, $5.7 million for cable, $176,000 for radio, $410,000 for satellite stations, and just under $3 million for digital ads.

He has always led Mastriano in resources and polling. Campaign finance reports filed last week showed Shapiro with nearly $11 million in the bank, while Mastriano had about $2.5 million.

An average of polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight on Tuesday showed Shapiro with a 10.6-point lead over Mastriano, while an average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics showed Shapiro up by 10.4 points.

A Suffolk University Poll released Tuesday showed Shapiro up by 11 points.

Still, Shapiro has cast this as a narrow race on the campaign trail and in fund-raising efforts.

“Every election in Pennsylvania is close and those who know me know I run like 50 points behind and I run hard for the finish line,” Shapiro said Tuesday. “We take absolutely nothing for granted.”