Decision 2024

Doug Mastriano Says He Won't Run for Senate in Pennsylvania in 2024

Doug Mastriano said Thursday night that he will not challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, leaving the GOP field wide open as Republican Party officials try to recruit a strong candidate in the moderate battleground state to help capture a Senate majority in 2024.

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Doug Mastriano, a hard-right Pennsylvania state lawmaker, says he will not challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in the run for Senate in Pennsylvania in 2024, leaving the GOP primary field wide open.
  • Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is the favorite of party leaders and has drawn pledges of financial support from top Republican officials — should he decide to run.
  • Mastriano was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in last year’s race for governor but lost badly. Pennsylvania is a top GOP target in their quest to recapture the Senate majority.

A hard-right Pennsylvania state lawmaker said Thursday night that he will not challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, leaving the GOP field wide open as Republican Party officials try to recruit a strong candidate in the moderate battleground state to help capture a Senate majority in 2024.

Doug Mastriano, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in last year’s race for governor but lost in a landslide, said in a livestreamed appearance with his wife that he will not run for Senate “at this moment the way things currently are.”

Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is the favorite of party leaders and has drawn pledges of financial support from top Republican officials — should he decide to run.

McCormick, however, is facing a complicated decision, with Trump seeking the party's nomination for president. A Mastriano candidacy could have further complicated McCormick's path and was causing heartburn in some GOP circles.

At the very least, it could have forced McCormick "to go spend millions to defend himself when that money would be better used in a general election or to help other candidates statewide,” said Sam DeMarco, a McCormick ally and chair of the Allegheny County GOP.

Mastriano, a state senator, did not voice explicit support for McCormick or any other candidate, but said he expected that an eventual GOP nominee would live up to their campaign pledges.

For Republicans, Pennsylvania is a top target in their quest to recapture the Senate majority, while Democrats face a difficult Senate map in 2024.

Of 34 seats up for election, Democrats must defend incumbents in red states — Montana, Ohio and West Virginia — and multiple swing states, including Pennsylvania, if they are to hold their 51-seat majority.

The prospect of a Mastriano victory in a primary had prompted handwringing among some Republicans.

Mastriano had spent the last few months saying he could win a Senate primary “hands down” and blaming the party establishment for his 15-point loss in November's election for governor.

But many Republican officials say Mastriano's subpar political skills, inability to raise money and extreme positions on abortion — among other issues — would guarantee a Casey victory in a state that has long embraced more moderate voices.

Republican hopes for victory may rest on McCormick, who narrowly lost the GOP nomination for Senate in 2022 to Dr. Mehmet Oz.

McCormick has promises of support from party brass, including a super PAC linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

McCormick also has deep pockets and connections across spheres of politics, business and government from which to draw endorsements and campaign contributions — none of which were enough to prevail against Oz, the Trump-backed candidate who went on to lose the general election to Democrat John Fetterman.

If he runs, McCormick may have to share a ticket with Trump, who castigated McCormick in last year's primary and continues to tell the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

In a book he published in March, McCormick told of an exchange with Trump in which the former president told him that, to win last year's Senate primary, McCormick would need to say the 2020 election was stolen.

"I made it clear to him that I couldn't do that. Three days later, Trump endorsed Mehmet Oz," McCormick wrote.

Trump went on to campaign against McCormick, deriding him at one point as the “candidate of special interests and globalists and the Washington establishment.”

McCormick lost to Oz by fewer than 1,000 votes.

McCormick released a statement on Mastriano’s announcement Thursday night. 

“I thank Doug for his years of military and public service and his dedication to Pennsylvania,” he wrote. “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. Casey votes for Biden’s liberal agenda 98% of the time; he is openly hostile to our state’s energy industry, endorses dangerous criminals walking freely on our streets, and is enabling open borders, leading to a terrifying rise in fentanyl deaths in Pennsylvania.”

Maddy McDaniel, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson, also released a statement following Mastriano’s announcement. 

“Mastriano has made it clear he and his base will loom large over this primary,” McDaniel wrote. “Any candidate who gets in will now be saddled with his extreme agenda, including David McCormick whose ties to China left him damaged in 2022. No matter who runs, Mastriano and his base will ensure any Republican will be completely out of step with the voters who will decide Pennsylvania’s Senate election.”

___

Follow Marc Levy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/timelywriter

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us