MAGA firebrand Doug Mastriano said on Thursday that he is not running for Senate in Pennsylvania in 2024.
“At this time, we have decided not to run for the U.S. Senate,” he said, “but to continue to serve in Harrisburg.”
Mastriano promised to support whoever emerges as the Republican nominee in the Senate contest. But he has signaled that he will continue to be a thorn in the side of GOP officials. During his announcement Thursday, which took place on Facebook Live, he complained for several minutes about the Republican establishment abandoning him during the gubernatorial election last year.
Mastriano and his wife, Rebbie, also said that their movement is not going anywhere — and that they will hold an annual conference for the grassroots.
“We’re going to continue to grow our statewide network across the state in every county,” said Mastriano. “We’re going to continue to be relevant.”
The announcement by the far-right state lawmaker will come as welcome news to Republican Party officials who were convinced that Mastriano would obliterate their chances of unseating Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and harm down-ballot candidates if he were the nominee. Mastriano lost the gubernatorial election last year by 15 percentage points.
Even former President Donald Trump privately told Republicans that he feared Mastriano would hurt him if they shared a ballot in November.
Republican state Rep. Russ Diamond took to Twitter on Monday to try to persuade Mastriano to stay out of the race. He posted a text message he sent to Mastriano earlier this year, in which Diamond said that him being at the top of the ticket “undoubtedly contributed” to Republicans losing the state House in 2022.
During last year’s gubernatorial contest, Mastriano’s support for an abortion ban with no exceptions, his attempts to overturn the 2020 election in the state, and his appearance at the capitol on the day of the Jan. 6 attack turned off independents, swing voters, and even some Republicans.
Mastriano’s decision to forgo a campaign this time around could clear the path for David McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO and combat veteran who is being recruited by national and state Republicans to run for the Senate. Though he repelled general election voters, Mastriano remains a force in the GOP, winning his primary last year by double digits. Many GOP strategists believed he would be tough to beat in a primary.
Public and private polls have shown that McCormick is a stronger opponent against Casey than Mastriano, though Casey has led both Republicans in surveys.
Mastriano has suggested in the past that if he does not run for the Senate, someone else from his wing of the party might. But who that might mean is unclear. Kathy Barnette, who had Mastriano’s endorsement when she ran and lost in the Senate primary last year, has said she is not running in 2024.
Keith Rothfus, a former congressman with ties to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is eyeing the Pennsylvania Senate seat. Carla Sands, an unsuccessful 2022 Senate GOP candidate, did not rule out another run next year when asked by POLITICO last month.
Mastriano said recently that he spent time with McCormick and his wife, Dina Powell, who served as Trump’s deputy national security advisor for strategy. That was a change from earlier this year, when Mastriano said he had not met McCormick.
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