‘We must all hang together,’ Doug Mastriano tells standoffish GOP gathering

Chris Brennan
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

Doug Mastriano has a habit of quoting from history and angering his fellow Republicans.

The state senator from Franklin County and nominee for Pennsylvania governor made a pitch for support Tuesday at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Aspen, Colorado, where he was given a few minutes to speak during lunch.

“We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” Mastriano told a crowded luncheon, according to someone in the room, citing a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The RGA, indifferent to Mastriano from his primary election win in May to earlier this week, showed no sign at the meeting of wishing to hang with him. The group ended the meeting with no commitment to endorse or fund Mastriano’s campaign.

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A person who attended the luncheon and asked for anonymity to discuss the private event, said Mastriano’s brief speech focused on his decisive win in the primary, the grassroots effort that helped make that happen, and early polling showing a tight race. He also spoke of policy plans to open up state lands for oil and gas exploration and to stop teaching methods in public schools that he alleged instilled liberal ideology in students.

Mastriano could use the RGA’s deep pockets. He had about $400,000 in the bank as of June 6 while the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, had more than $13 million.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, the Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, gestures to the cheering crowd during his primary night election party in Chambersburg, Pa., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who co-chairs the RGA, dodged questions about whether the group would support Mastriano in an interview Sunday on CNN’s State of The Union. He noted the group does not support “lost causes or landslides,” choosing to invest in competitive races.

“Nov. 8 is a long way off,” Ducey said when pressed about Mastriano. “So we’ll be looking at this map. We’ll be looking at the resources that we have. And we don’t know what September and October are going to hold.”

The RGA’s most recent campaign finance report as a nonprofit, filed last Friday, showed the group raised just under $30 million from April to June, spent just under $17 million, and had more than $12 million in the bank.

Ducey’s standoffishness echoed a RGA statement issued after Mastriano won the crowded and bruising primary, which offered no endorsement.

Mastriano has been seeking party unity for his campaign, though his firebrand style of slashing at anyone he sees as not as conservative as he remains in play.

He spoke Saturday at the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s summer meeting in Valley Forge, where he said “it doesn’t matter anymore” whom party officials backed in the primary, according to a video uploaded to his Facebook page.

And he shrugged off new efforts by the Republican Accountability Project, a national super PAC, and Republicans For Shapiro, a state super PAC, to convince GOP voters to reject Mastriano.

“I don’t see division,” Mastriano said while complaining about media coverage of those groups. “They mean nothing.”

Mastriano again claimed in that brief Valley Forge speech that Democratic elected officials are secretly supporting him, offering no proof for that claim.

Mastriano, who limits communications to solicitous podcasters and supportive conservative radio hosts, did not respond to a request for comment.

He traveled Saturday after the party meeting to Camp Hill, where he was the guest of honor at the screening of a documentary film that he appears in.

The film, shown to about 1,200 people, drew boos when the leaders of the Republican state legislative caucus were shown and cast as “traitors” for not doing enough to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state, according to a report from ABC27 in Harrisburg.

Mastriano made false claims about the 2020 election a centerpiece of his primary campaign, echoing former President Donald Trump, who endorsed him.