Repub GOP Governor's Association has Abandoned Doug Mastriano (PA)

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Why the GOP has shunned some Republicans in key races​

Three Republicans running in what should be winnable races this year have been all but abandoned by the national GOP, leaving them in limbo with just over a month to go until November’s midterm elections.

In Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano’s bid for governor is failing to gain traction. In Arizona, Senate nominee Blake Masters has seen funding dry up for his bid to unseat incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly. And in Ohio, J.R. Majewski’s challenge to the longest-serving woman in the history of the House of Representatives was hobbled last week after a national Republican campaign group pulled its advertising for him.

To be sure, all three candidates could still win in November. But right now they’re struggling, and their fellow Republicans don’t seem keen to help.


Doug Mastriano stands in front of a row of American flags at a rally.


Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 3. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Doug Mastriano won the May primary for the Republican gubernatorial nomination easily, securing more than 40% of the vote in a crowded field. This came despite an unsuccessful effort by more moderate Republicans to consolidate around an alternative candidate, which was undercut by former President Donald Trump’s last-minute endorsement of Mastriano.

A former Army colonel, Mastriano didn’t rely on traditional advertising during the primary. Instead, he played to hard-right Pennsylvania Republican voters on social media, and won a following by opposing anti-COVID-19 efforts and supporting Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

GOP power brokers in the state were trying to stop Mastriano because they felt his views were too extreme for general election voters in Pennsylvania, a key swing state. Mastriano attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington, D.C., and has sued the committee investigating the events of that day for wanting to question him. He’s also said that he would put in place new voting restrictions and has called for a complete ban on abortion.

There is also concern that if elected, Mastriano would try to throw out Pennsylvania’s election results in 2024 should the state be won by a Democratic presidential candidate.

The Republican Governors Association has not thrown financial support behind Mastriano, instead focusing on other races. At an event last month, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey — the RGA chairman — said the group would not “fund lost causes.”

“You have to show us something, you have to demonstrate that you can move numbers and you can raise resources,” Ducey added, in remarks recently reported by Axios.

Last week a Mastriano campaign adviser called for supporters to push the RGA to get involved in the race. Appearing in a Facebook livestream, Mastriano noted he was “really not finding a lot of support from the national-level Republican organizations.” Mastriano has avoided talking to the press, and a Saturday rally in the state capital of Harrisburg was sparsely attended.

The governor’s race was seen as winnable. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is not running again due to term limits, is unpopular. But the Democratic nominee going up against Mastriano, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has already won two statewide races, emerged unscathed from the gubernatorial primary in which he was the only candidate, and has been a successful fundraiser, giving him a major financial edge.

While Mastriano has been mostly absent from the airwaves, Shapiro started running ads criticizing Mastriano’s positions before Mastriano had even won the GOP nomination. Shapiro explained the tactic to Yahoo News in May, saying he felt it was apparent Mastriano would win the nomination and adding, “We think there’s a clear contrast in this race and we want to make sure we’re out in front highlighting those differences and getting a jump on the general election.”

Jim Wertz, the Democratic Party chairman in Erie County, told Yahoo News that he’s had some Republican donors approach him at events asking how they could help Shapiro. Erie is one of the state’s most important swing counties, with Trump winning it in 2016 while winning the state and Joe Biden doing the same in 2020.

“It’s a real sign of trouble for the Republican Party that they continue to nominate characters that a sizable portion of the party can’t support or defend,” Wertz said. “That said, we take nothing for granted. There is still a large contingent of election deniers and insurrectionists in the heart of the Republican Party, and we can’t ignore their enthusiasm for extremist candidates and how that might affect the outcome of these midterm races.”

The Mastriano campaign did not respond to Yahoo News’ request for comment.

Recent polling on the race has been both sparse and varied: While some surveys show Shapiro with a double-digit lead, others have Mastriano within a few points.

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