Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano earned the Donald Trump endorsement with days to go before the primary, cementing his place as the Republican frontrunner in a crowded and contentious field. The state senator and former U.S. Army colonel has been controversial even within the Republican Party, with many feeling that Mastriano is too far to the right to win in the general election against a Democrat.
Controversial Republican leads race
Doug Mastriano had a long military career behind him before he decided to run for the Pennsylvania State Senate in 2019, two years after his retirement from the Army.
Mastriano was involved in both Operation Desert Storm and the 2003 invasion of Iraq during his decades in the Army.
While an instructor at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania he turned his attention to history and was credited with discovering the site of Sergeant Alvin York’s famous 1918 action.
Despite this record, many Pennsylvania Republicans are determined to keep Mastriano away from the nomination, largely due to what he has done since leaving the military.
After the 2020 election Mastriano became a major political force by leading the effort to overturn the official results in his state on behalf of Donald Trump.
On January 6 Mastriano was in Washington D.C. with a host of Pennsylvanians who he had organized to attend the protest. Mastriano himself never entered the Capitol, however.
Republicans fear loss in November
Trump repaid his loyalty by endorsing him over rival candidate Lou Barletta, who had Trump’s endorsement when he ran for the United States Senate in 2018.
The endorsement creates some awkwardness in this year’s Senate campaign as well; Mastriano is a close ally of Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, a major rival of Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz.
The former president only involved himself in the gubernatorial race once Matriano became a pretty certain nominee. The race has evidently been the less important of the two Pennsylvania primaries in his eyes.
Mastriano has been very vocal about his faith on the campaign trail, being described by some critics as a far-right Christian nationalist.
If elected, Mastriano intends to fight aggressively against abortion and voter fraud. Some have suggested that Democrat Josh Shapiro can expect an easy victory against Mastriano in November.
Pennsylvania generally has been viewed as a favorable state for Republican candidates this year, so even a candidate as controversial as Doug Mastriano will have some advantages.