Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, is set to run for Pennsylvania governor.
In appearances online over the weekend, Mastriano, 57, R-Franklin, said he achieved the fundraising goal he set to formally become a candidate for governor and is organizing an announcement rally on Jan. 8 close to his home in south-central Pennsylvania.
Mastriano helped spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and led those opposing pandemic-related shutdowns, and vaccine and mask mandates. He headed anti-mask protests and supported the overturning of the election in favor of former President Donald Trump. Regarding his appearance at the Capitol insurrection, he maintains his innocence and was not charged. Democrats called for his resignation.
He is the third state senator to seek the nomination among many Republicans to possibly succeed outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat. For the Democrats, second-term state Attorney General Josh Shapiro appears the clear candidate.
Mastriano touts himself as an anti-establishment candidate. He often calls other politicians corrupt and says many Republicans are not conservative enough.
In a Facebook video over the weekend, he said other Republicans will “lie, cheat, and steal” to beat a “people’s governor” and suggested other candidates will not be able to have a rally to start their candidacy due to lack of popularity.
“Almost all the other 17 or 18 candidates on the Republican side, it’s a press release such as one of the other candidates has done, or another individual spoke with a reporter from one of the liberal rags,” Mastriano told a conservative interviewer Saturday online.
Mastriano was first elected to the Senate in 2019 from a solidly pro-Trump area after retiring as a colonel from the U.S. Army and losing an eight-way primary for an open congressional seat.
Mastriano has long dangled the likelihood that he would run, even saying last May that Trump “asked me to run” for governor.
He has boasted of speaking with Trump at least 15 times and organized an election hearing in Gettysburg that featured Trump’s lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, and a phone call appearance by Trump.
Mastriano in July launched a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election, mimicking a widely criticized partisan effort in Arizona before he was stripped of his Senate committee chairmanship by a rival for the gubernatorial nomination, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, in a dispute over how to run it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.