Friday, May 20, 2022

Pennsylvania's Doug Mastriano to campaign for Donald Trump-endorsed governor candidate Dan Cox in Maryland

Fresh off his victory as the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor Tuesday, State Senator Doug Mastriano is coming to Maryland on June 25, to campaign for fellow Donald Trump endorsee Dan Cox in his run for Maryland governor. Mastriano will headline a rally for Cox, a state delegate in the Maryland House, at Leaping Greenly Farm in Hampstead. In addition to having Trump's endorsement in Maryland, Cox sees himself in a similar position as Mastriano in another way, taking on the establishment of his state party and being attacked as a result.

Mastriano has energized the GOP base in Pennsylvania like no statewide candidate since Rick Santorum in the mid-1990s. Unlike many Trump-backed hopefuls, Mastriano was already well-positioned for victory before receiving the Mar-a-Lago endorsement. A retired colonel in the U.S. Army who holds a PhD., Mastriano's ability to mobilize the religious right in his state has resulted in dozens of negative media reports describing him as a "Christian nationalist." He has been a focus of controversy for his efforts on behalf of Trump's "stop-the-steal" campaign in Pennsylvania after the 2020 election, and for his proposed changes to election laws, controversies that have only boosted his appeal among Republican voters.

Most controversial has been Mastriano's proposal to require all Pennsylvania voters to re-register to vote, to weed out inactive names on the state's voter rolls. Election integrity is sure to come up at the June 25 Cox rally in Maryland, as "voter integrity advocate" Captain Seth Keshel is also on the list of speakers for the event. Integrity of elections was also a central theme when Mastriano announced his endorsement of Cox last year.

Like the Trump endorsement, the Mastriano appearance is likely to thrill the large number of Maryland Republicans who still support the former president. Establishment Republican operatives concerned about relitigating the 2020 election when Gov. Larry Hogan-endorsed candidate Kelly Schulz is seen as most-likely to hold Hogan's broad coalition together in November 2022 are less intoxicated. Hogan and surrogates have unleashed attacks against Cox, while Schulz has touted her successful work as Commerce Secretary, which was bolstered further this week with Greenland Technologies Holding Corporation's announcement it will build an industrial vehicle manufacturing plant in White Marsh. Greenland's decision, like those of Hitachi and United Safety Technology to build Maryland plants, was made during Schulz's tenure at Commerce.

Cox is counting on high-profile endorsers like Trump and Mastriano, and the enthusiasm they generate, to outmaneuver the advantages Schulz may have. Polling of the GOP race in Maryland has been minimal compared to Pennsylvania, meaning that there is little sense of where likely voters stand on the Republican hopefuls, who also include former state delegate Robin Ficker and attorney Joe Werner. 

The June 25th Cox rally with Mastriano is currently described as "free admission," and sponsorships are going for as high as $6000. An announcement says all attendees must register online to gain admission, however.

Photo via Dan Cox for Governor

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