All but one of Pennsylvania’s Republican congressional members are endorsing their party’s candidate for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano.
The outlier is Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents the 1st Congressional District in the Philadelphia suburbs, covering Bucks County and part of Montgomery County. It’s more moderate than any of Fitzpatrick’s GOP colleagues’ districts, and this isn’t the first time Fitzpatrick has split with the other Republicans on key votes and endorsements.
Fitzpatrick chalked the lack of an endorsement up to a scheduling conflict. Campaign spokeswoman Nancy McCarty said the representative was “attending an Intelligence meeting” while the other members of the GOP delegation met with Mastriano, and that Fitzpatrick had sent a staffer in his stead.
“Rep. Fitzpatrick has yet to meet and/or speak with Sen. Mastriano regarding his plan for Pennsylvania, but hopes to have the chance to do so prior to the Fall elections,” she said in a written statement.
In a follow-up email, a staffer for Fitzpatrick said the office had not yet scheduled a meeting with Mastriano.
Fitzpatrick’s decision to — at least for now — steer clear of his party’s gubernatorial candidate could also speak to Mastriano’s odds in the populous Philly suburbs: Many voters there appear unlikely to back him.
The area has been increasingly supportive of Democrats over Republicans in the last decade-plus, and Mastriano wouldn’t be the first Republican to struggle there. But suburban voters in the region still have a lot of influence over the outcome of statewide races.
A recent Fox News-sponsored poll showed Mastriano trailing his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, by about 10 points statewide, and by more than 20 in suburbs generally. Suburban women were even less likely to support him.
Several recent polls of the race have been relatively consistent, but data on the race is still limited and with more than three months until the election, things could change.
Mastriano has been a controversial figure in the GOP. He’s been one of Pennsylvania’s most prominent spreaders of baseless theories about fraud in the 2020 election, and used his campaign account to charter buses to the Jan. 6, 2021 rally-turned-insurrection. He supports strict abortion bans. And during the primary election, he paid the far-right website Gab for consulting.
He didn’t have much institutional support in the primary, but these endorsements from congressmen are part of a pattern of increased support.
In a letter, the eight congressional members endorsing Mastriano said they’re supporting him because of his “passion for life, freedom, and liberty.” They’re all either in predominantly Republican districts, or not seeking re-election.