HARRISBURG, Pa. — In the same spot where he spoke to thousands of people at a raucous State Capitol rally demanding an end to pandemic restrictions in April 2020, Doug Mastriano appeared on Saturday before a crowd of just a few dozen — about half of whom were volunteers for his ragtag campaign for governor of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Mastriano, an insurgent state senator who in the spring cruised to the Republican nomination, is learning this fall that while it is one thing to win a crowded G.O.P. primary on the back of online fame and Donald J. Trump’s endorsement, it is quite another to prevail in a general election in a battleground state of nearly 13 million people.
There’s no sign of cavalry coming to his aid, either: The Republican Governors Association, which is helping the party’s nominees in Arizona, Michigan and six other states, has no current plans to assist Mr. Mastriano, according to people with knowledge of its deliberations.
Still no scripture and/or proselytizing
Coincidentally, divine intervention is just what the candidate has in mind this week. On Monday night, Mastriano’s campaign posted on Facebook a photo of two hands under the words “40 days of fasting & prayer” with the dates Sept. 29 through Nov. 8 — Election Day.
“Starting in a few days,” Mastriano wrote in the post. One Facebook supporter responded: “It’ll be my honor to fast with you.” While it is unclear who Mastriano expects to start fasting on Thursday, the recent entreaties seem to indicate that his campaign, which epitomizes what scholars call Christian nationalist ideology, has fallen on hard times.
The messaging has grown increasingly erratic, sometimes arguably bordering on nonsensical. One of Mastriano’s main attack strategies these days is emphasizing that he is taller than Shapiro. He and his supporters have also, at times, reverted to earlier campaign themes, such as emphasizing his opposition to abortion with no exceptions, that might have helped during a GOP primary, but that are unpopular with the wider electorate. He has also revived his attacks on fellow Republicans.
◾️On Tuesday a radio clip from 2019 was played of Mastriano saying women who have abortions should be charged with murder.
◾️Mastriano wore Confederate uniform for faculty photo.
◾️Jenna Ellis is his legal advisor. (Snickering)
◾️Shapiro has outspent Mastriano, since the primary by $21.6 million to $6,300.