Today, Pennsylvania primary voters cast their ballots in the first statewide elections since 2020. While many have focused on the contentious Senate race among Trump-pandering candidates Mehmet Oz, David McCormick, and Kathy Barnette, gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano also warrants attention, given his background promoting QAnon and trying to overturn the 2020 election.
While a third of primary voters reportedly remain undecided, a recent Franklin & Marshall College poll put Mastriano in the lead for the Republican gubernatorial primary, at 20% in a nine-person field, making the possibility of America electing its first QAnon governor an increasingly likely outcome. Of the 11 QAnon-promoting gubernatorial candidates Media Matters tracked in 2021 and 2022, Mastriano could be the first to win not only his primary, but also the office.
Mastriano is a state senator for Pennsylvania’s 33rd District who gained national prominence for his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which spurred the U.S. House's select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection to subpoena him. Mastriano was also present in Washington, D.C., during the January 6 riots in the U.S. Capitol. He attended Donald Trump's “Save America” rally and subsequently marched on the Capitol as rioting occurred, additionally spending over $3,000 in campaign committee funds to bus other supporters to the nation's capital.
An increasingly popular figure on the far right, Mastriano has conducted interviews with far-right ideologue Steve Bannon and antisemitic Gab founder Andrew Torba, and he has frequently appeared on the One America News Network. He has also flirted with ideas of Christian nationalism, promoted anti-vax claims and protests, and supported a ban on abortions with no exceptions.
Mastriano is also a QAnon promoter who regularly engages with other believers. Media Matters previously reported that Mastriano’s Twitter account posted at least 51 tweets with the hashtag “QAnon” in 2018 (most were deleted following the article’s publication).
Mastriano was scheduled to speak at a QAnon-branded “Patriots Arise, Awakening the Dead!” conference in June 2021 in Gettysburg, but he pulled out of the event following media scrutiny. A little under a year later, in April 2022, Mastriano spoke at a different QAnon-affiliated conference in Gettysburg called “Patriots Arise For God and Country,” organized by antisemitic QAnon believers and self-described “prophets” Allen and Francine Fosdick.
Mastriano had previously appeared on the Fosdicks’ show, one of two known QAnon program appearances by Mastriano, along with his later appearance on the QAnon-promoting The Common Sense Show. Mastriano has also made frequent speaking appearances at election fraud events organized by QAnon-promoting election conspiracy theorist Toni Shuppe.
And Jim Marchant, one of the organizers behind a QAnon-connected plot to recruit and elect secretary of state candidates around the country to push false voter fraud claims, named Mastriano as a potential recruit.
Despite his obvious appeals to QAnon believers through public events and social media, Mastriano’s spokesperson, Josh Herman, claims that the Republican gubernatorial candidate “strongly condemns the ‘Q anon’ conspiracy theory.”
While Pennsylvania media widely covered Mastriano's ties to Trump and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, it has been rare for outlets to thoroughly cover his QAnon connections beyond mentioning his attendance at the “Patriots Arise for God and Country” conference.