Josh Shapiro, who this week was nominated as the Democratic candidate for governor in the critical electoral state of Pennsylvania, accused his Republican rival of intending to override the Democratic will of voters and choose his own winners in the next election.
Shapiro launched his attack on Doug Mastriano in a CNN State of the Union interview on Sunday. He called Mastriano, a far-right state senator, “dangerous and divisive” and warned that if he becomes governor of Pennsylvania, he could wield the power to choose his own list of presidential voters in order to annul the results of the 2024 presidential election.
“Senator Mastriano has made it clear that he will nominate voters based on his belief system,” Shapiro said. “He’s basically saying, ‘Of course you can go vote, but I’ll pick the winner.’ That’s incredibly dangerous.
Fears about Mastriano’s anti-Democratic leanings have spread across Pennsylvania and the country since he won the Republican primary last week. Should he go on to defeat Shapiro, the current state attorney general, in November, he would have considerable powers at his disposal to support what would effectively be an insurrection.
As governor, he could theoretically refuse to certify the results of an election even if it took place freely and fairly. He would also have the power to appoint Pennsylvania’s secretary of state – the position that controls all elections in the state.
Donald Trump endorsed Mastriano for the gubernatorial nomination shortly before the primary. The move was seen as a reward for the candidate’s loyalty to backing the former president’s bid to illegitimately cling to power in 2020 – as well as setting the stage for a possible similar insurgency attempt in 2024. .
Mastriano was one of the staunchest supporters of Trump’s “big lie” that election fraudsters robbed him of the 2020 race against Joe Biden. He was present at the United States Capitol on January 6 when Trump supporters and white supremacist extremists violently attempted to overturn the election results and keep Trump in power.
“Senator Mastriano wants to take us to a dark and divisive place,” Shapiro told CNN. “He spoke openly, if he was governor, with the stroke of a pen about removing voting machines that had votes he disagreed with.”
Pennsylvania has been a pivotal swing state in recent presidential elections. Trump won the Commonwealth by 44,000 votes in 2016, but lost it to Biden four years later by 82,000 votes.
Mastriano is seen as so extreme by Democratic strategists that the Shapiro campaign went so far as to run ads during the primary that appeared to boost the Republican state senator — presumably on the premise that his far-right leanings would make it easy to beat in November. The ad called Mastriano “one of Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters” and said if he wins the Republican nomination “it’s a victory for what Donald Trump stands for.”
CNN asked Shapiro if the move was an irresponsible attempt to help a candidate “because you think you can beat him.” The Democratic candidate denied the claim, saying he ran the ad as a way to get the general election campaign started early.