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“The hardcore base – Mastriano plays on it,” said Carl Fogliani, a Republican strategist from Pittsburgh. “He has a following among the core activists and he’s trying to grow it.”
Mastriano was a little-known senator from central Pennsylvania until last year and began building a following among conservative grassroots activists ahead of the November election for criticizing coronavirus-related restrictions.
Lowman Henry, president of the Pennsylvania Leadership Council, which organizes a state gathering of conservative activists, said he was “ahead of the curve” of other politicians on this issue.
After the election, Henry said, “As is his typical fashion, he got on the horse and also led the indictment on the issue of electoral fraud, which in my opinion only adds to his glamor with the Trump base which is very large in Pennsylvania, contributed. ”
In the months after the election. Mastriano built a national profile for himself starting with his role in organizing a post-election hearing in Gettysburg with Giuliani and a phone call from Trump. Since then, his fingerprints have been everywhere in the efforts of Trump and his allies to undermine the November election results. He was present in Washington on January 6, the day of the riot in the US Capitol. He recently visited Arizona to watch the vote. And he urged a ballot review elsewhere, including in Fulton County, a rural district that Trump easily won near Mastriano’s district.
Al Schmidt, a Republican electoral commissioner in Philadelphia who was pilloried by Trump and his supporters for refusing to surrender to unfounded allegations of electoral fraud, reminded Mastriano that he was “pretty vocal” during the presidential campaign, but he did mostly just felt as a “state senator” from another place in Pennsylvania. “
He said, “It is actually difficult to articulate what is going on because it is so completely detached from reality and that was that the choice was free and fair and not even scarce.”
Mastriano’s efforts have produced no evidence of widespread electoral fraud, but they have given him an influence on a likely candidacy for governor. He met with Trump at Trump Tower in New York in May, and CNN is now tracking him down at events in his home state. Mastriano said Trump himself encouraged him to run for governor.
“Would anyone have known Mastriano’s name from within 80 kilometers of his district a year ago?” Said David Becker, managing director of the non-partisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, lamented what he called “a large segment of crooks trying to make money” over baseless allegations of election fraud. “And now he can probably raise funds across the country by collecting his name and his connections to Trump.”
It is possible that Mastriano is making too much of his connection with Trump and annoying some in the Trump world. After Mastriano said in a radio interview last month that the former president asked him to run for governor, Jason Miller, a Trump adviser, said on twitter that Trump “has not yet given any approvals or commitments in this race”.
When Mastriano and two other Pennsylvania MPs later traveled to Arizona, Trump announced the “great patriots” led by Mastriano. That kind of statement – if repurposed on a mailer – could be significant in a Pennsylvania Republican area code next year.
Mastriano, who did not respond to a request for comment, said he was still considering running for governor but is widely expected to do so. Republican primaries are likely to be crowded, including former MP Lou Barletta and possibly MP Dan Meuser and former US attorney Bill McSwain, among others.
“I think he probably has a pretty low cap on the percentage of the primary electorate he can reach, which he’s probably trying to raise now in relation to Arizona and everything else to be the Trumpiest in the world Trumpers” said Joshua Novotney, a Republican lobbyist and former advisor to Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Given his relatively low profile, even after campaigning for the election test, Novotney said, “I don’t think he’s going to impress too many donors.”
He said, “A lot of Trump supporters are trying to go on and win races … even when they feel like things have been stolen.”
Even so, the fact that Mastriano is involved is a far from 2018, when he didn’t even get out of a Congressional primary and finished fourth in the race for a vacant seat in a solid Republican district in southern Pennsylvania.
Today, the retired Army Colonel is one of the most prominent examples of a class of politicians building careers without a doubt about the results of the November elections, having voters – that the election was rigged.
Across the country, several Republicans who supported Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud are running to become secretary of state. Earlier this week, Wren Williams, an attorney who represented Trump during the Wisconsin recount, deposed a longtime Republican in a Virginia state primary.
“[Mastriano] has absolutely the correct idea that we still don’t have a full record of the 2020 election, ”said Bruce Marks, a Republican attorney who worked for the Trump campaign and met with Mastriano last month. “I think he’s absolutely on the right track.”
Marks, a former Pennsylvania MP who did not sit as a state senator after a 1994 court ruled that widespread electoral fraud had resulted in the apparent victory of his Democratic opponent, said he met with Mastriano to clarify the details to report this case – a protest rally for the Republicans who insist that the presidential election can still be overturned.
Not long after the meeting, Mastriano invoked the case at a rally in Harrisburg.
“I wish it was like 1994,” said Mastriano, suggesting that the media had done a “fantastic job” of finding fraud that year. In the same speech, Mastriano compared the November elections unfavorably to elections in “war-torn Kosovo”, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.