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Tipsheet

Why Dems Are Now Worried About PA's Gubernatorial Race

Twitter, Doug Mastriano

There are times when you get surprised by politics. The 2016 election shocked everyone. It still has some on the left paralyzed with anger. Donald Trump was supposed to be beaten like a drum by Hillary Clinton and her machine. She failed. Some GOP candidates are iffy, to say the least, for the 2022 cycle. 

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In Pennsylvania, former Col. Doug Mastriano got hoisted up as a sacrificial lamb against Democrat Josh Shapiro. Mastriano is a hardcore MAGA supporter. At the time, I'll bet that a host of PA Democrats and operatives were happy to see this guy win the GOP primary. Easier pickings for the upcoming general election. Mastriano's victory speech was not good. It was rough around the edges, but he's not a politician. These are fixable issues. They're not disqualifying. He has made some remarks about the 2020 election that some squishy folks find controversial. Who cares? And that's how Pennsylvania Republicans feel about the colonel. He's within striking distance of Shapiro. Say it with me: Doug could win (via Politico): 

In the immediate aftermath of Pennsylvania’s messy gubernatorial primary — which included an ill-fated, last-minute attempt by the GOP establishment to stop Mastriano — many Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania thought the race was all but over. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee, is a first-class fundraiser with a record of winning tough statewide races. He emerged unscathed from the Democratic primary after clearing the field.

[...]

But as the political environment has worsened for Democrats across the country, the gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania has begun to look more competitive than either party expected. Polls show Mastriano behind Shapiro by only three to four percentage points, which is within the margin of error. Though many still have doubts about Mastriano’s ability to run a successful campaign, that has made Pennsylvania Republicans more optimistic — and served as a wake-up call for Democrats, particularly in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

“I have the feeling that the race is too close, and that there is this very vocal group that Mastriano has behind him, and that Shapiro has got a lot of work to do,” said Pat Moulton, a retired nurse who attended a meet-and-greet with Shapiro in northeastern Pennsylvania last week. “As a Democrat, it’s frighteningly close.”

Larry Ceisler, a Pennsylvania-based public affairs consultant who is backing Shapiro, said the early polls are a blessing in disguise because they have made some Democrats realize Mastriano could win.

“Most people are in a little bubble, where they talk to one other and say, ‘Boy, there’s no way Doug Mastriano can beat Josh Shapiro.’ Well, you know what? Those people don’t get off the turnpike,” he said, referring to the interstate highway that crosses Pennsylvania. “It wakes some people as to: It’s a real campaign, and yes, there really are people who are for Doug Mastriano, and this is not going to be a walk in the park.”

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The publication added that Democrats see the abortion issue buoying Shapiro. Also, they're banking on these new polls showing a close race, waking up complacent Democrats. We'll see. Shapiro is carpet-bombing the state with ads because he has the funds to do so. That's also a double-edged sword for people looking for candidates to vote for who aren't Democrats. It's free advertising blasting Mastriano's name everywhere in an election cycle where "Democrat" is akin to radioactivity. 

Keep an eye on this race, especially as we enter an economic recession. No matter how personable or good a campaigner you are, the party responsible for a recession has an uphill climb. 

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