Josh Shapiro, in $16.9M ad blitz, declares Doug Mastriano 'too risky for Pa.'

York Dispatch

Pennsylvania's Democratic nominee for governor, Josh Shapiro, launched his first campaign advertisements in a $16.9 million ad buy reserved through Election Day in which he tries to paint his Republican opponent, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, as "too risky" for the commonwealth.

Mr. Shapiro, the state attorney general, launched two ads on Tuesday, including one that says Pennsylvania is likely to lose businesses if Mr. Mastriano wins because of the Republican's strict anti-abortion beliefs. It mentions East Liberty-based language learning app Duolingo as one of the businesses that has said it would consider leaving the state if any abortion ban was put into effect in Pennsylvania.

In the ad, Mr. Shapiro's campaign notes other states that have driven business away by passing restrictive laws on abortion or LGBTQ rights. It highlights a 2021 story from the Washington Post about tech workers seeking jobs outside of Texas for that reason.

More:Man stabbed woman at Walmart so he could go back to jail: Police

More:Wife bypasses trial, enters plea in husband's disappearance, apparent death

More:Satanic Temple to celebrate Back to School night with crafts, science

It also mentions a 2016 report that other companies decided not to open new facilities in North Carolina due to its legislation to block transgender people from using bathrooms that do not correspond with their sex assigned at birth.

"But Doug Mastriano wants to do both: outlaw abortion ... and gay rights," the ad says. It's followed by sound bites of Mr. Mastriano talking about his belief that gay marriage should "absolutely not" be legal.

The commercial then mentions Duolingo — and the potential threat that any of these policies could have on Pennsylvania jobs.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, Duolingo CEO Luis van Ahn tweeted that he loves that his company is headquartered in Pittsburgh. But "if PA makes abortion illegal, we won't be able to attract talent and we'll have to grow our offices elsewhere," he added.

Mr. Shapiro's campaign hopes to put abortion and LGBTQ rights at the center of its messaging in the two-month stretch before the midterm election on Nov. 8. Democrats across the country expect that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn long-held abortion rights and return discretion on the issue to the states will motivate Democrats and others who favor abortion access to turn out to vote in November.

While Mr. Shapiro's campaign works to highlight Mr. Mastriano strict beliefs as extreme, Mr. Mastriano made the opposite claim at former President Donald Trump's rally in Wilkes-Barre last week. As evidence, Mr. Mastriano called out mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic and said that Mr. Shapiro and other Democratic leaders have "turned their back on Philadelphia" and gun violence there.

"They call us the extremists," Mr. Mastriano said during his remarks at Mr. Trump's rally. "Are you freaking kidding me?"

FILE - Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Dec. 14, 2021. As attorney general, Shapiro went to court repeatedly to defend Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's administration against legal challenges to his pandemic-era mandates and shutdowns. Now, as he's running to succeed Wolf as governor, Shapiro says he is against some of the same COVID-19 containment measures that his fellow Democrat used to help manage the nation's worst pandemic in over a century.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Shapiro campaign has amassed war chest of more than a $20 million in the past year, according to his latest campaign finance filing from early June. That's significantly more than Mr. Mastriano's fundraising through the May primary election, which totaled just $954,000.

Voters won't get a better picture of the amount of money flowing into its gubernatorial election until Sept. 27, which is the next statewide filing deadline.

Mr. Shapiro's campaign also launched an ad in the Erie and Pittsburgh TV markets on Tuesday that highlights his work on the UPMC-Highmark agreement to ensure that insurance holders can continue access treatment from both health care giants through 2029. It features a testimonial from a Bradford Woods resident who was diagnosed with cancer and worried that she would lose her doctors due to the UPMC-Highmark split.

FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2020, file photo, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, attends a hearing of the Pennsylvania State Senate Majority Policy Committee in Gettysburg, Pa. A massive Republican primary field for governor in Pennsylvania is spurring growing discomfort among party leaders that a widely splintered primary vote could produce a winner who cannot beat Democrat Josh Shapiro in November's general election. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)