Democrat Josh Shapiro defeated far-right Republican Doug Mastriano in the Pennsylvania the governor’s race on Tuesday, NBC News projected, handing Democrats a significant victory in a contest where oversight of the 2024 election and abortion rights took center stage.
Just after 10:30 p.m. ET, Shapiro held a more than 13-point lead over Mastriano.
Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, cast his opponent as an extremist and sought to campaign to protect Pennsylvanians’ freedom to vote, access abortion care and unionize. Mastriano, a state senator who led the charge to try to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, generated a core of grassroots GOP supporters in the primary but was not able to expand its coalition.
A former army colonel, Mastriano focused on culture war issues throughout his candidacy and incorporated themes of Christian nationalism into his campaign, including expressing contempt for the separation of church and religion. the state. For his part, Shapiro has sought to define himself as the rational, moderate alternative to Mastriano’s tough political brand while countering GOP messages on crime by touting his support for hiring more police officers and promoting the approvals from law enforcement officials.
Speaking to journalists on his campaign bus last weekShapiro said that Mastriano “is by far the most extreme and dangerous person to ever run for public office in Pennsylvania. And I think he represents a clear and present danger to democracy, our freedom and our safety.
Throughout his campaign, Shapiro has touted his record as attorney general and pledged to protect abortion rights in the state, which were a focus of the campaign because the party that controls the mansion of the governor will play an outsized role in the future of abortion policy. in the state.
Shapiro expressed support for the status quo in Pennsylvania, which allows abortion in all cases for the first 23 weeks, then with exceptions thereafter. Mastriano said his stance on abortion is irrelevant because abortion laws are ultimately up to the state legislature. In Pennsylvania, Republicans have controlled the executive and legislative branches for years, making it likely that Mastriano, who said abortion was murdercould sign new restrictions into law.
Elected to the state Senate in 2019, Mastriano rose to prominence after the 2020 election when Trump sought allies in state legislatures to help reverse his loss. Mastriano was outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021, although he said he did not go inside. His campaign paid for people to attend the rally that preceded the riot.
Mastriano out of a deep Republican primary field that failed to melt around an alternative before it was too late, and Trump endorsed her candidacy days before the May vote. With Mastriano’s lead looking insurmountable, Shapiro cut a campaign ad that was widely seen as boosting the state senator’s candidacy, and Democrats have since begun tying any Pennsylvania Republican to him in ads.
A number of prominent Republicans avoided Mastriano. He failed to win the support of Senator Pat Toomey (the Republican whose retirement opened the seat), the Republican Governors Association failed to inject major spending into his race, and Republican Mehmet Oz, the party’s nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, rarely appeared at events with him and courted moderate voters who backed Shapiro but were wary of the Democratic Senate nominee, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
“There’s one thing I liked that Fetterman said the other day,” said Mastriano, a state senator, said at Trump’s rally on Saturday, where Oz also spoke. “Just one thing: when he accused Oz of riding with Mastriano.”
Mastriano’s bid was also dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism. Over the summer he was criticized for a campaign Payment to the far-right social media platform Gab, on which the man accused of carrying out the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh had posted anti-Semitic rants. Gab’s founder said there is no place for Jews, atheists and others in the conservative movement he wants to foster.
Amid the firestorm, Mastriano released a statement saying, “I reject anti-Semitism in any form.”
He later drew attention for saying that the Jewish school that Shapiro, an observant Jew, attended was a “privileged, exclusive and elite” school. A senior Mastriano campaign adviser would later be call Shapiro “at best a secular Jew” while Mastriano’s wife, Rebbie, said end of October, “as a family we love Israel so much, in fact, I’m going to say we probably love Israel more than a lot of Jews.”