Republicans have been very sure of themselves this cycle: Democrats control the White House; President Joe Biden's approvals are in Trump territory; and inflation, they said, would dominate all else.
Then came a draft Supreme Court decision upending 50 years of guaranteed rights to reproductive health care, and the victory of a truly right-wing MAGA gubernatorial candidate in the powder blue swing state of Pennsylvania.
Senate Republicans, desperate to hold on to the state's open Senate seat, are freaking out, afraid the extremist beliefs of state Sen. Doug Mastriano will drag down their yet-to-be-determined nominee like a lead weight.
But inside the Keystone State, things are even more dire, according to multiple reports from The New York Times, MSNBC, and The Washington Post.
The Daily Kos Elections Team talks with Joe Sudbay about the big primaries and all of the redistricting nonsense on The Downballot podcast
As a round of recriminations pulsed through Republican state party circles, phrases like “suicide mission,” “disaster,” and “voyage of the Titanic” were hurled.
Between Mastriano's win and the exceedingly messy Republican Senate primary, Brian Rosenwald, a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, told an MSNBC columnist: “This is the most train wreck-y set of primaries I’ve ever seen.
"I’ll hedge a little given how strange things are (in politics today), but everything we know about Pennsylvania politics says the GOP has a major problem," Rosenwald continued. "In a normal political environment, Democrats would win handily.”
As The Washington Post's Philip Bump noted, Mastriano's victory speech on election night amounted to "a phalanx of right-wing bugaboos."
Restoring freedom, he said, would be his "number one goal" as governor. Then he ticked through his Day 1 priorities: all pandemic mandates, vaccine requirements to hold jobs, and school teachings on "CRT" (critical race theory)—"gone." In the area of education, he would also focus on increasing "school transparency," ensuring that “only biological females can play on biological female teams,” and individuals “can only use the bathroom that your biology anatomy says.”
Forget about boosting the economy, job creation, and making life more affordable—that stuff is for losers.
Mastriano also made 2020 election lies a centerpiece of his campaign and organized buses for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Video footage shows Mastriano breaching the barricades, although he claimed he did not break the law. Mastriano also explicitly sought to overturn the state's results in favor of Donald Trump and claims the Pennsylvania General Assembly has "sole authority" to appoint presidential electors in the case of a compromised election. If elected governor, he would also be in charge of appointing the secretary of state who would oversee that state's elections.
Beyond that, here's a few other radical Mastriano tidbits:
Mastriano's Democratic rival, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, is campaigning explicitly on maintaining abortion access and beat back no fewer than 40 cases of alleged 2020 election fraud. Shapiro is well funded and has won two statewide elections, outperforming both Hillary Clinton and Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.
For now, Republicans are hedging on whether to embrace Mastriano's candidacy at all.
In acknowledging Mastriano's win, Dave Rexrode, executive director of the Republican Governors Association, issued a statement saying, “The R.G.A. remains committed to engaging in competitive gubernatorial contests where our support can have an impact.”
In other words, let's see if this radical asshat can make this a race. Just another way of saying, “So what if the guy is promising to subvert the will of the voters and assert Christian supremacy—electability is the only thing that matters.”