Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano to appear at QAnon-linked conference
Mastriano's campaign has specifically avoided public events and mainstream media appearances while embracing the extremist fringe
Update (10/24/22): Following the publication of this post, HuffPost senior reporter Christopher Mathias reported that Doug Mastriano “was a no show” for this scheduled event.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is scheduled to speak Saturday at a QAnon-linked Christian nationalist conference in Pennsylvania, headed up by disgraced former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. This is just the latest example of Mastriano's effort to mobilize his base of supporters through fringe networks cultivated by the QAnon community, while he has simultaneously avoided mainstream media appearances.
ReAwakening America tour event organizer Clay Clark, himself a QAnon-linked conspiracy theorist, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Mastriano’s campaign asked for a spot in the speakers line-up, a fact that helps to cast light on Mastriano’s deliberate strategy of cultivating support from the extremist fringe.
The official theme for the event, as shown on a promotional poster, is “The Great ReAwakening vs. The Great Reset.”
Mastriano has also frequently promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory movement. Following the 2020 election he publicly prayed for Congress to “disregard” the votes, and he then organized buses to Washington, D.C., for the event that turned into a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Mastriano shuns mainstream media, embraces the fringe
During his campaign for governor, Mastriano has avoided contact with credible media outlets, refusing debate invitations from newspapers, shunning local press, and conducting almost no interviews with Pennsylvania media outlets. Instead, he developed relationships with the white nationalist social media site Gab and far-right figures such as conspiracy theorist Jack Posbiec. He has also campaigned with Julie Green, a self-proclaimed “prophet” who has declared that God will execute various political figures. In June, Mastriano tapped right-wing media personality Jenna Ellis — the disgraced former Trump lawyer and current Newsmax contributor — as a senior advisor for his campaign.
Just this week, Mastriano was interviewed by evangelist broadcaster and serial misinformer David Brody, during which Mastriano spread the conspiracy theory that Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is “grabbing homeless kids and kids in foster care” and “experimenting on them with gender transitioning.” He also appeared Friday morning on Steve Bannon’s show, speaking with guest hosts Jack Posibiec and former Trump adviser Peter Navarro while Bannon was at his sentencing hearing for contempt of Congress.
So, while Mastriano is avoiding contact with respectable media outlets, he has worked to build up his base among fringe activists — which is where Flynn’s ReAwaken America tour comes in.
ReAwaken America tour is a who’s who of QAnon speakers
Flynn launched ReAwaken America a few months after the January 6 insurrection, to spread a Christian nationalist message that Democrats and other government officials are evil. Flynn had previously called for then-President Donald Trump to impose martial law and disregard his defeat in the 2020 election, and he later called for a military coup in 2021. His political tour is now a QAnon hotbed, featuring a who’s who of speakers associated with the violent conspiracy theory movement.
Speakers at the event so far have included election denier Mike Lindell, who also appears to have urged Trump to impose martial law following the failed insurrection, and who used his speaking slot Friday to continue spreading conspiracy theories about voting machines that he claims were used to defraud the 2020 presidential election. The event also featured numerological prophecies and claims that the “angel of death” is coming for President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other public figures “by year-end.”
Other tour speakers:
- Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced national former security advisor, is a star attraction at ReAwaken events and a “constant presence.” He is considered a hero and martyr among QAnon supporters.
- Clay Clark, ReAwaken tour organizer and event emcee, is a QAnon-linked conspiracy theorist. At a ReAwaken event attended by The Associated Press, Clark said he and other attendees “believe that America is on the verge of ending.”
- Ann Vandersteel is a QAnon conspiracy theorist. She previously said the pizzagate conspiracy theory that baselessly alleged Democrats of operating a pedophile sex ring was “all real” and “true.”
- Greg Locke is a hate preacher who spoke at the January 5 “Rally for Revival” in Washington the night before the January 6 attack, where he “offered a prayer” for the Proud Boys and the far-right group’s leader Enrique Tarrio. Tarrio and members of the Proud Boys have since been indicted on charges of conspiracy for their role in the attack on the Capitol.
- Longtime “dirty trickster” and former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone is linked to numerous violent far-right extremist groups being investigated for their role in the January 6 insurrection, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. He was filmed prior to the election asserting, “Fuck the voting. Let’s get right to the violence. Shoot to kill.”
- Scott McKay (also known as “Patriot Streetfighter”) is a QAnon influencer who frequently encourages his followers to harass school boards and endorsed using violence against law enforcement for enforcing public health measures.
- Julie Green is Mastriano’s campaign “prophet.” She has claimed that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi drinks “children’s blood,” God will execute political figures, and that Biden “is no longer alive” and being impersonated by an actor.
- Stella Immanuel is a doctor and conspiracy theorist who has repeatedly been suspended from social media platforms for falsely claiming hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for COVID-19 and that masks don’t work. She has claimed that alien DNA is being used for medical treatments and that “some gynecological ailments are caused by people having sex in a dream-world with demons, with the demonic semen as the origins of the afflictions.” She also claims that the government is partly run by “reptilians.”
- Former Trump administration official Kash Patel previously sat on Truth Social’s board, where he helped shape the platform’s strategy to cater and appeal to the QAnon community. Patel was reportedly almost installed as acting CIA director in the lead-up to January 6 as Trump deemed certain members of his administration insufficiently loyal in his effort to overturn the election.
- Mark Burns is a South Carolina evangelical pastor and former Republican congressional candidate who said at a recent ReAwaken event that he was declaring war on “every demonic, demon-possessed Democrat that comes from the gates of Hell.”