The choice for Pennsylvania Governor could not be more clear in November.
On the one hand, we have Josh Shapiro – an Attorney General who fought for Commonwealth citizens’ rights for six years.
On the other, we have Doug Mastriano, a former US Army Colonel and 3-year state representative who supported a literal coup against the United States government.
In any sane world, that would be all you’d need to know.
This should not be an election – it should be a rout.
However, Commonwealth voters will need to come to the polls and make it clear that they reject Mastriano’s fascism and that they instead support their own right to determine who governs in Pennsylvania and beyond.
That sounds extreme. I wish it weren’t also true.
Following the last Presidential election when it became clear Donald Trump had lost the vote, Republican Mastriano helped organize large rallies pushing false claims of election fraud. He chartered buses to take protesters to the Capitol on January 6. He personally crossed police barricades at the Capitol during the riot, and attempted to submit “alternate” (i.e. fake) pro-Trump electors to the official count. And he even coordinated all this with Trump when he was invited to the White House to discuss the “stop the steal” strategy.
If Mastriano somehow wins the governors race, he will be in a position to basically call off Democratic rule in the state. As governor, he would choose the secretary of state — the official in charge of administering the 2024 presidential election. This would effectively allow him to pick the winner, himself.
This is not just conjecture. Mastriano has gone on record that as governor he would decertify voting machines in some precincts – making it hard to count votes there. He has even alluded to the independent state legislature doctrine, which holds that state legislatures can name whoever they want as the recipient of a state’s electoral votes, regardless of who voters select.
This is not conservatism. It is not protecting American values or law and order. It is the opposite.
By contrast, Shapiro, the Democrat in the race, is a model of exactly those qualities usually associated with sobriety and efficiency.
As Attorney General, he fought federal government overreach including Trump’s travel ban. He filed a lawsuit to stop religious organizations denying health coverage including contraceptives to employees. He joined a lawsuit against for profit colleges resulting in a $168 million settlement. He reached an agreement with federal officials to prevent the distribution of blueprints for 3D printed firearms. He launched an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church including a Grand Jury report alleging the sexual abuse of more than a thousand children at the hands of more than 300 priests.
In short, he worked hard to protect the people of this Commonwealth.
And the difference is stark on so many other issues when compared head-to-head.
Shapiro wants to increase security and gun regulations to prevent school shootings. Mastriano wants to give teachers guns and let them do the shooting.
Shapiro has fought to protect women’s reproductive rights against the state. Mastriano supports the state telling people what to do with their own bodies.
And on top of all that – Mastriano has ties to White Supremacists!
Until recently, his campaign paid consulting fees to Gab, a white nationalist social media site owned by anti-Semite Andrew Torba. Gab was the site that helped inspire the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue mass murder in 2018. Torba and others on the site that Mastriano was explicitly looking to for support commonly champion Great Replacement theory and support Vladimir Putin.
No skeletons of this type have been found in Shapiro’s closet.
The worst anyone has found so far is a $100,000 donation from Students First PA, a charter school advocacy group, which he took money from when he was running for Attorney General in 2016. However, Shapiro made no effort to hide the donation and his voting record when he was a state representative was not pro-charter. In 2011, for example, he voted against a measure to provide tuition vouchers of charter schools, and he has been a vocal critic of the industry for years. Moreover, neither Students First PA nor any other pro-education privatization organization that I can find has made any significant donations to him this election cycle so far.
The way I see it, this is a simple – if terrifying – election.
Shapiro is not perfect, but if elected, he would function similarly to current Governor Tom Wolf. He would be a guardian against the overreach and bad decisions of the gerrymandered Republican legislature.
One can hope voters throughout the Commonwealth would take back their individual voting districts from the extremists, but given the still uncompetitive lines of these districts, this seems unlikely.
So we need a Wolf, we need a Shapiro, standing on the battlements stopping the goons like Mastriano from taking advantage of the majority of us.
Shapiro would certainly do that. He might even go farther and fight to find ways to get real change through the legislature. But even if he can’t do that, voting for him is essential.
Mastriano may simply be the worst candidate for governor in the Commonwealth’s history – and that’s saying something!
That would make a huge difference both nationally and throughout the state.
It would set us up with a firm foundation and at least keep people safe from the worst.
I know it is depressing to be put in this situation constantly. Every election cycle seems to be the most important because the country is falling apart. Maybe we can find a way to turn things back and reach some level of sanity. But we can’t do anything unless we elect Shapiro, Davis and Fetterman.
We need the guardians against the goons.
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