For just over week, one could almost hear the collective sighs of relief among Pennsylvania Republicans following the announcement by controversial 2022 gubernatorial nominee and State Sen. Doug Mastriano that he would not run for the U.S. Senate next year.
Mastriano's "no go" leaves David McCormick, West Point graduate and former Bush Administration official, as the almost-certain nominee against three-term Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, Jr.
With Donald Trump's endorsement, the outspoken Mastriano handily won the GOP primary for governor last year. He came under strong fire for controversial statements he made about gay rights and abortion, and for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, demonstration on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters.
Numerous Republicans refused to endorse their nominee and Mastriano, 60, lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro, 58% to 41%.
"The top of the ticket is a big reason we didn't win any of the marginal House of Representatives," outgoing Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa, told Newsmax in December, adding that Mastriano's big loss was also "a reason Democrats won control of the state House [of Representatives]."
"Pennsylvania Republicans lost at least a couple of close races in 2022 on account of having a totally unelectable and polarizing candidate at the top of the ticket," said Western Pennsylvania attorney and longtime conservative activist Erich Hawbaker, "This is a relief."
Mastriano holds the seat held in the 1960s by Hawbaker's grandfather, State Sen. D. Elmer Hawbaker.
Lowman Henry of the conservative Lincoln Institute was a bit more reserved.
"It is good news that Sen. Mastriano will remain in the state Senate where he has been a champion for a wide range of pro-growth and liberty issues," he said, "The Senate is our remaining firewall in state government and his leadership there is vitally important."
Perhaps the most gracious of all Republicans is the one who gains the most from Mastriano's decision, David McCormick (who lost the GOP Senate nomination last year by just over 800 votes to Mehmet Oz, who went on to lose to Democrat John Fetterman).
"I thank Doug for his years of military and public service and dedication to Pennsylvania," he said, "We need a Republican nominee who can build a broad coalition of Pennsylvanians to defeat Bob Casey and improve the lives of Pennsylvania families."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.