Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial nominee is running on an anti-democracy platform

Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial nominee is running on an anti-democracy platform

In the 2022 midterms, two statewide races in Pennsylvania that are being closely watched are the U.S. Senate race — which finds Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, a.k.a. Dr. Oz, up against Democratic Lt. Gov John Fetterman — and a gubernatorial race in which Democratic State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is hoping to defeat far-right State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorist, Christian nationalist and QAnon ally who is even to the right of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Shapiro has been warning that Mastriano’s views go way beyond conservatism; he is against democracy itself — a view that Never Trump conservative Amanda Carpenter obviously shares.

In an article published by The Bulwark on July 5, Carpenter lays out some of the ways in which Mastriano’s platform is overtly anti-democracy.

“By now, political junkies are familiar with the rucksack of election-denying baggage that Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano schleps around,” Carpenter explains. “He organized a faux post-election legal hearing for Rudy Giuliani in Gettysburg; he asked Congress to deny Pennsylvania’s electors; he spent thousands of campaign funds busing people to the Capitol on Jan. 6th; he was filmed crossing police barricades; some of his supporters were arrested for their activities that day, and he visited Arizona to observe its disastrous Cyber Ninjas audit in hopes of replicating it in Pennsylvania.”

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Carpenter continues, “Those are only the highlights of what Mastriano has done in the past. But what about the future? People like Mastriano are never going to let Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss go. If anything, Trump’s ‘Stop the Steal’ lies provide a pretext for actions intended to ensure MAGA types win in future elections.”

The Never Trumper goes on to cite specific elements of the “election takeover plan” that Mastriano has in mind for Pennsylvania.

Carpenter warns, “His platform includes the following: loosening restrictions on poll watchers to make it easier to challenge votes; repealing vote-by-mail laws; appointing a fellow 2020 election-denier to be secretary of state who could enable him to decertify every voting machine ‘with a stroke of a pen’; forcing all Pennsylvania voters to re-register; and defunding the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”

As a Pennsylvania state senator, Carpenter observes, Mastriano has “promoted legislation to ban dropboxes and private funding for elections, as well as to eliminate ‘no excuse’ mail-in voting and the permanent absentee voter list.”

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“Mastriano’s potential powers as governor far exceed that of a state senator when it comes to controlling Pennsylvania’s elections,” Carpenter notes. “Unlike many other states where the secretary of state is an elected position, in Pennsylvania, the governor gets to make an appointment for the position. Mastriano already has his pick in mind, and although he hasn’t provided a name, he has teased that with this appointment and his powers, he could ‘decertify every machine in the state with a stroke of a pen via the secretary of state.’”

Carpenter points out that Mastriano’s proposal to “reset the voter rolls and force all of Pennsylvania’s 9 million voters to submit new voter applications to re-register to vote” would violate “federal voting laws.”

“But that doesn’t deter Mastriano from campaigning on it and may not prevent Gov. Mastriano from trying it — and creating a massive tangle of legal problems in the face of looming election deadlines,” Carpenter observes. “Where would those legal challenges be decided? Most likely, in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And for that, Mastriano has another idea in mind in case things don’t go his way. If the state’s highest court doesn’t do as he pleases, he thinks it should be defunded — which is something he’s called for after the 2020 election.”

A USA Today/Suffolk poll released in mid-June showed Shapiro leading Mastriano by only 4%, which is within the poll’s margin of error.

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“Only a few months ago, Mastriano was considered a longshot to win the nomination, but under the radar, he cultivated a devoted grass roots following, largely propelled by social media, and overtook his opponents in the primary by an overwhelming margin,” Carpenter notes. “He ended up winning by a walloping 24 points. Mastriano did it all by riding on Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Why? Because he sees a path for Republicans like him to win, no matter what, up ahead. Don’t be surprised if he ends up doing exactly what he said. He’s not hiding his plan, after all. He’s campaigning on it!”

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