Big Lie and Christian Nationalism Promoter Doug Mastriano Wins GOP Primary for Pennsylvania Governor

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (Image from appearance on "Up Front in the Prophetic")

Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano won Tuesday’s Republican primary election for governor. Mastriano, who built a statewide campaign with the support of Christian nationalists, Big Lie supporters, and QAnon conspiracy theorists, had the backing of Trump world activists like former national security adviser Michael Flynn and won a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump days before the election.

Mastriano was one of the most energetic proponents of Trump’s false stolen-election claims in Pennsylvania. A few weeks after the 2020 election, he hosted a hearing at which Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis appeared—and which Trump called into by phone to spout his baseless claims about a stolen election. Mastriano ended the hearing with a call to arms, saying, “The time for dithering and deliberation is over. It’s time for decisive action.” Mastriano pushed for Arizona-style “audits” in several counties.

Mastriano also took part in prayer calls organized by religious-right activists to try to keep Trump in power. On one call, he denounced “weak and feckless” officials in Pennsylvania and prayed that “we’ll seize the power that we had given to us by the Constitution and as well by you providentially.” Two days before insurrection, Mastriano appeared on Eric Metaxas’s radio show where he called for divine intervention on Jan. 6. Mastriano reportedly used campaign funds to pay for six buses to take his supporters to the U.S. Capitol. On the day of the insurrection, Mastriano attended the “Save America” rally before heading to the Capitol grounds, where he joined other Trump loyalists crossing police lines and barricades.

The day before Mastriano’s primary victory, journalist Sarah Posner examined how “Christian nationalism and the Big Lie fused to fuel Doug Mastriano’s candidacy.” While Mastriano disavows the label, he was described in a 2021 New Yorker profile as the embodiment of Christian nationalism. He has said God told him to run for governor. At “Patriots Arise”—a QAnon, Christian nationalist conference—Mastriano told the crowd, “In November we’re going to take our state back. My God will make it so.”

As reported by A Public Witness, a group called Pennsylvania for Christ backed Mastriano’s candidacy as part of its mission to “reestablish the kingdom of God in Pennsylvania,” and said that his election would be a sign that “an awakening is coming.”

When Mastriano appeared at “Patriots Arise,”  host and QAnon conspiracy theorist Francine Fosdick presented him with what she called a “Sword of David,” saying, “You’ve been fighting for our country, and you’re fighting for our religious rights in Christ Jesus.” Mastriano had appeared on her conspiracy theory program multiple times.

Mastriano has also been billed as a special guest at an event hosted by Rod of Iron ministries, an apocalyptic offshoot of the Unification Church that uses assault weapons in worship and is preparing for war against the so-called deep state.

During the campaign, Mastriano and Gab’s white nationalism-promoting CEO Andrew Torba showered praise on one another.

Mastriano has supported other conspiracy theories. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Mastriano referred to it as “this fake COVID crisis,” Mastriano portrayed refusal to wear a mask as a Christian duty. He pledged that he would ban critical race theory from the state’s schools on his first day in office.

Mastriano shares Trump’s thin skin and contempt for the media. He hung up on a recent radio interview after reporters asked him about his appearance at the rally hosted by QAnon activists and his presence outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

Before he was declared the winner on Tuesday night, he railed against the media, vowing never to give access to the Washington Post or other outlets that he said mocked his supporters and his faith.

Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, who worked alongside Rudy Giuliani and other members of Trump’s legal team to prevent Trump’s 2020 defeat from being certified, was at Mastriano’s victory party, along with Sean Feucht, a missionary and musician who built a religious-right political group from the ashes of his failed 2020 congressional bid. Mastriano failed in a run for Congress in 2018, but was elected to the state Senate a year later. During his campaign for the state Senate, he was criticized for sharing anti-Muslim propaganda on social media.

Mastriano’s general election opponent is Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.