‘This is Mastriano’s campaign to lose’: Republicans rally around Pennsylvania election denier
Doug Mastriano. (US Army photo)

Republicans made a last-ditch attempt to stop right-wing conspiracy theorist Doug Mastriano from becoming the Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate, but they're starting to rally around him in the general election.

Mastriano, a U.S. Air Force veteran and state senator who earned Donald Trump's endorsement by apparently storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, has suggested he would use his authority as governor to ensure a GOP candidate wins the 2024 presidential election, but Republicans are coming around to him as he keeps pace with Democrat Josh Shapiro in polling, reported Politico.

“There was absolutely no evidence that I saw, nobody that I talked to that was saying, ‘Geez, I can’t believe we’re saddled with this guy Mastriano,’” said GOP activist Matthew Wolfe, who attended a state party meeting over the weekend.

Mastriano has eschewed interviews with mainstream media, antagonized members of his own party and struggled to raise money, and Wolfe said he sees plenty of room for improvement on the campaign trail.

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“I’d like to see traditional fundraising,” Wolfe said. “I’d like to see that he’s hired some TV commercial consultant that I’ve heard of before. I’d like to see a strategy on social media other than putting what seem to me to be off-the-cuff videos that are watched primarily by people that have already made up their minds.”

But somehow he trails Shapiro by only three to four percentage points, which is within the margin of error, and the state's GOP power brokers are encouraging the Republican Governors Association to reverse its decision to stay out of the Pennsylvania race.

“Pennsylvania is a pivotal state. It’s going to play an enhanced role in the 2024 elections,” said Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist who ran against Mastriano in the primary. “For them to not be involved here would be a dereliction of duty.”

Mastriano has only $400,000 in the bank, compared with Shapiro's $13.4 million war chest, but the polls have served as a wakeup call for Democrats.

“Most people are in a little bubble, where they talk to one other and say, ‘Boy, there’s no way Doug Mastriano can beat Josh Shapiro,’" said public affairs consultant Larry Ceisler. "Well, you know what? Those people don’t get off the turnpike. It wakes some people as to: It’s a real campaign, and yes, there really are people who are for Doug Mastriano, and this is not going to be a walk in the park.”