Josh Shapiro, who was nominated this week as the Democratic candidate for governor in the electorally critical state of Pennsylvania, accused his Republican rival of trying to override the democratic will of voters and pick their own winners in future elections.
Shapiro launched his attack on Doug Mastriano in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. He called Mastriano, a far-right state senator, “dangerous and divisive” and warned that if he became Pennsylvania governor, he could wield the power to choose his own list of presidential electors as a means of overturning presidential election results. of 2024.
“Senator Mastriano has made it clear that he will appoint electors based on his belief system,” Shapiro said. “He’s basically saying, ‘Sure you can go vote, but I’ll pick the winner.’ That is incredibly dangerous.”
Fears about Mastriano’s anti-democratic tendencies have spread across Pennsylvania and across the country since he won the Republican primary last week. If he were to continue to defeat Shapiro, the current state attorney general, in November he would have considerable powers at his disposal to support what would in effect be an insurrection.
As governor, he could theoretically refuse to certify the results of an election even if it was conducted freely and fairly. He would also have the power to appoint Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, the post that controls all elections in the state.
Donald Trump endorsed Mastriano for the gubernatorial nomination shortly before the primary. The move was seen as rewarding the candidate’s loyalty by backing the former president’s attempt to illegitimately cling to power in 2020, as well as paving the way for a possible similar insurrection attempt in 2024.
Mastriano was one of the most avid defenders of Trump’s “big lie” that election fraudsters stole his 2020 race against Joe Biden. He was present at the US Capitol on January 6 when Trump supporters and white supremacist extremists violently attempted to overturn the election results and keep Trump in office.
“Senator Mastriano wants to take us to a dark and divisive place,” Shapiro told CNN. “He has openly spoken of, if he were governor, at a stroke of the pen, ending the voting machines that had votes with which he did not agree.”
Pennsylvania has been a vital swing state in recent presidential elections. Trump won the Commonwealth by 44,000 votes in 2016, but lost it to Biden four years later by 82,000 votes.
Democratic strategists view Mastriano as so extreme that Shapiro’s campaign went so far as to run ads during the primary that seemed to boost the Republican state senator, presumably on the grounds that his far-right leanings would make him easy to beat. November. The ad called Mastriano “one of Donald Trump’s strongest supporters” and said that if he won the Republican nomination “it’s a victory for what Donald Trump stands for.”
CNN asked Shapiro if the move was an irresponsible attempt to help a candidate “because you think you can beat him.” The Democratic candidate denied the claim, saying he ran the ad as a way to get an early start on the general election campaign.