Doug Mastriano Opts Out of 2024 Senate Bid

Republicans intent on flipping the Senate feared that his candidacy would hurt their chances of winning in Pennsylvania.


To the relief of Republican operatives in Pennsylvania and Washington, state Sen. Doug Mastriano announced that he will run for reelection to his state Senate seat, forgoing the U.S. Senate primary. 

Appearing on Facebook Live with his wife, Rebecca, Mastriano said that he would support the eventual nominee but argued that any potential candidate will need to appeal to his “Walk As Free People” movement. 

“Whoever is that nominee, I will support them,” Mastriano said. “I don’t want any Republican candidate to go through what we went through last year when our Republican Party betrayed us.” 

His potential entrance into the race had GOP operatives worried about a repeat of 2022, when Mastriano lost the governor’s race by nearly 15 percentage points to now-Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat. 

Republicans publicly and privately bashed Mastriano’s 2022 candidacy, and some local officials even crossed the aisle to endorse Shapiro. Mastriano centered his gubernatorial campaign on “election integrity,” repeating election conspiracy theories that wooed the G.O.P base in the primary, which he won with 44 percent of the vote. But later, that approach would turn off general election voters. Shapiro won the general election with 57 percent of the vote.

“Did we not learn anything from last year?” asked Jackie Kulback, chair of the Cambria County GOP. “That was a disaster of monumental proportions.” 

Mastriano organized buses to the U.S. Capitol the day of the Jan. 6 attack. In the closing weeks of the 2022 campaign, a photograph of Mastriano dressed as a Confederate soldier surfaced from his days on the faculty of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Republican Governors Association, the campaign arm that helps elect and protect GOP governors, did not spend any money to support him. And he was badly outraised by Shapiro, who raked in more than $50 million while Mastriano raised $5 million. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has named Pennsylvania as one of the top targets for the Senate GOP this cycle, along with Montana, Ohio, and West Virginia. Democrats currently hold a 51-49 majority, so Republicans only need to flip two seats to be back in the majority. 

Regardless, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of Senate Democrats, remains bullish on Casey’s reelection chances and believes Mastriano can still influence the primary outcome. 

“Tonight Mastriano threatened that he and his supporters will continue looming over Republicans in Pennsylvania, which will make their Senate Primary dynamics in even messier – and guarantee whichever candidate emerges will be badly damaged and out of step with the voters who will decide the general election,” said DSCC spokesperson Maeve Coyle in a statement to The Messenger.

The GOP competition

In Pennsylvania, the NRSC seems keen on David McCormick, the former hedge fund manager and Bush administration Treasury official. He came 951 votes short of defeating Oz in the 2022 Senate primary after spending $14 million of his own cash. Daines “strongly encouraged” McCormick to run again at the NRSC’s winter meeting this year, and noted that Mastriano would struggle to win a general election. 

On a Facebook live last week, Mastriano took aim at Daines, calling him a part of the “ruling class.”  

“I don't care what Senator Daines thinks in his ivory tower,” he added.  

Two sources familiar with McCormick’s thinking say that he is still undecided about running, and that if he launches a campaign it will be in late summer. He’s hired staff and has embarked on a book tour where he has discussed his 2022 primary campaign while floating a 2024 test balloon. 

After Mastriano’s announcement, McCormick released a statement thanking Mastriano for his “years of service” and again confirmed his interest in running. 

“I am seriously considering a run for the U.S. Senate because Bob Casey has consistently made life worse for Pennsylvania families over the past 18 years, and our state deserves better,” he said. “We need a Republican nominee who can build a broad coalition of Pennsylvanians to defeat Bob Casey and improve the lives of Pennsylvania families.”

Early polling has shown Mastriano still has sway among primary voters. A Franklin and Marshall College poll conducted in April found that Mastriano led McCormick in the GOP primary, 42-28 percent. However, the poll found McCormick to be a stronger general election candidate than Mastriano. Incumbent Sen. Bob Casey led McCormick, 42-35 percent. Against Mastriano, his lead jumped to 47-31 percent. 

Doug Mastriano addresses the media during his 2022 bid for governor
MANHEIM, PA - OCTOBER 29: Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Doug Mastriano addresses the media after a rally at Spooky Nook Sports Complex on October 29, 2022 in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Mastriano faces Democratic challenger Josh Shapiro in the November election. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Looming over the GOP primary is Trump, who did not back McCormick in 2022 but endorsed Mastriano for governor after it became clear that he was going to win the primary. Republican operatives who spoke with The Messenger argued that since Trump will potentially be on the ballot in 2024 he has a vested interest in making sure the GOP has the strongest down-ballot nominees. One national Republican strategist said they were pitching both Trump and McCormick on a strategy similar to 2016, where Trump and former Sen. Pat Toomey focused on their own races and did not campaign as a team. 

Jim Worthington, a Republican activist and two-time Trump delegate based in Bucks County, noted that while Mastriano has a dedicated base of support, his appeal is not broad enough to win a general election. Worthington supported Oz in 2022 but had positive words for McCormick, calling him an “outstanding candidate.” 

Mastriano should sit 2024 out, Worthington added. “Even with the Trump endorsement, he lost by historic margins,” Worthington said. “I mean, there’s just no way to sugarcoat it. He lost by 15 percent. It didn’t suit him. I mean, maybe somewhere down the road if he wants to reengage or something. I just don’t think now is the time for him. Now’s not the time to get involved.” 

Siding with McCormick over Mastriano is a no-brainer, Kulback said. 

“We’re at a point in our country’s history where there’s no time for rookies,” he said. McCormick “checks every box.” 

“We just can’t keep chalking up these losses,” she added. 
When asked about if he’d rather face Mastriano in a general election, Casey said “I’ll let the political scientists figure that one out.”

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