The following is a transcription (by permission of 1210 WPHT) of an interview between 2022 Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano and 1210 WPHT radio host Dom Giordano. The transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Dom Giordano: State Senator Doug Mastriano…with us here on Talk Radio 1210. State Senator Doug, welcome back. Thank you very much for joining us today.
Doug Mastriano: Thanks for having me on and happy New Year’s. It’s the first time we’ve spoken since then. So all the best to you.
Giordano: Well, Doug, thank you. And I’ve, over the years, you know, had some people that I helped with a campaign one way or another. We’re pretty close. And when you lose an election for something like this, it is a very, very difficult thing to deal with. So thank you for coming on to talk about that, but more [about] what happened here and — how are you doing?
Mastriano: Yeah, we’re, we’re doing okay. And obviously, uh, yesterday [Shaprio’s inauguration] was a bit bittersweet since we had, you know, fought and worked so hard for that day. But I had an article [unclear] published in the Epoch Times today, and the whole purpose of the article is: ‘This is what we learned. Here’s what went right, here’s what we’re wrong, and how do we win elections in the future?’
Because obviously after a defeat, there’s a blame game. A lot, a lot of your being kicked around is not, you know, factually actually accurate. So I just wanted to really just put it out there and what I think we need to do to win races in the future.
And, and some of it’s a hard lesson, you know, and I mentioned no-excuse mail-in voting. uh, look, brother, I — I didn’t embrace that, obviously during the campaign. We probably should have used it as the Democrats had, because I don’t see how we win elections without embracing that idea.
And once we get a governor, you know, and a General Assembly that’s Republican, you know, restores to ‘voting day’ instead of ‘voting season.’ The fact that I say that in this article and have mentioned it briefly before, it — it offends the Republicans. And I get it. You know, I — it’s icky, but if we wanna win, we’re gonna operate within the law.
Giordano: Well, I couldn’t agree more, Doug. And you know, we still have to fight him [Shapiro] day to day on regulations on that and checking on it. But if we don’t do mail-in balloting — they were very effective, particularly your opponent who’s a relentless guy with $44 million, $50 million bucks. Um, so we’re both in agreement on that.
All right, let me ask though, and I know that, well, you don’t know me that well, but I am consistently pro-life. But I don’t think you can run statewide in Pennsylvania and say no exceptions to the three big things that were talked about. Dr. Oz lost. And he did say there were exceptions. Have you learned anything on that? Someone running for governor, particularly statewide?
Mastriano: Yeah, so I don’t buy that. I know that’s the conventional wisdom. And if I can make, uh, you know, my case obviously we would differ on it.
So, you know, Oz was an “exception” guy. He was the type of moderate Republican that everyone said could only win a statewide race. And as moderate as he was, you know, colluding with, uh, you know, uh, Karl Rove and others, and running ads that didn’t benefit me, but reached out to Shapiro, uh, it didn’t do him any good, even running against the zombie-like Fetterman. And, uh, where we lost is two areas regarding that.
Because one thing I was very clear on, on the campaign trail is, uh, what happens with abortion in Pennsylvania is not up to Governor Mastriano. Obviously, it’s gonna be up to the people with the General Assembly passing laws. There’s nothing you can do unilaterally on that.
Where we failed in this area though, is we had no messaging. And Josh Shapiro and the, and the figures right now, $75 million — of which he spent $70 million of it — uh, unprecedented, almost doubled the record that [Gov. Tom] Wolf spent back four years ago. We had no messaging, you know, every week there was another million dollars of anti-Doug ads.
And the RNC had, you know, turned its back on Pennsylvania. The RGA, Republican Governors Association, walked away from us.
And so all you had was, was my own campaign, my own messaging, basically without any support [from outside campaigns or PACs] correcting the record or pointing out where Josh Shapiro was a flawed candidate.
Because if you think about this, he has a terrible record and you know. You’re in the southeast — terrible record on crime. And he wasn’t a very good legislator, but there was no one out there pointing that out other than, you know, what we could do with the grassroots, which was not enough.
Giordano: Well, Doug, let’s stop at that one and drill down on it. I agree with you about that. That they abandoned and all that, and that not enough was done to flesh this guy out.
And he’s [Shapiro’s] difficult. He’s been able to parade with the willing help of the media as a more moderate figure than he is. But your only hope when abortion, well — Dr. Oz we’ve talked about — with Fetterman is to make the case how extreme he was.
But I still maintain, Doug, that the information is there. If you are ‘no exceptions’ on [abortion], that’s not gonna work here in these suburbs in Philadelphia, no matter — you know, you have a strong base in other parts. If abortion rises — now, it might not rise again to this level this time around, it was a little surprising how big it was — if it does, I’m convinced though, Doug, you can’t win on that.
Mastriano: So it’s, it’d be really disingenuous. So, once again, my personal views on abortion in Pennsylvania is really regardless it’s, once again, it’s up to the House and the Senate.
Giordano: But, but lemme — I’m sorry to interrupt Doug, but I gotta say, but they know. They’re smart enough to know.
I know when you said that — if I were advising, they’re gonna say, “Well, if we have the governor though, he’ll veto it. They’ll never override the veto if Doug is there. Doug is very, very strong on this. Not only will he not veto it, but he’s gonna be using whatever powers, executive order, whatever, on top of the legislature,” Doug. And it’s pretty apparent to me that’s what you would do.
Mastriano: Well, I would say, look at the facts and my legislative record. Now, granted it’s only a few years old, but the heartbeat bill, you know, is, is not all exceptions. Cause what you have to do, Dom, of course, is we have existing law in Pennsylvania that has the exceptions. And so that can’t be changed by a governor.
I mean, we have the Abortion Control Act that came in some years ago. The exceptions are in place. And so I’m on record supporting, of course, the fetal pain bill, you know, no abortions after 15 weeks when a baby can feel the pain; looking for the heartbeat bill, when we can detect the heartbeat.
You know, I’m looking for protecting life, you know, in those categories. Um, it became a big issue because of course, [U.S.] Supreme Court on the Dobbs case, and Josh successfully made it an issue. There’s so many other things going on in Pennsylvania that I gotta be honest, I thought the economy would trump some of these social issues.
Giordano: Well, here in the Pennsylvania suburbs, I think we learned a lesson, uh, that, uh, it doesn’t. And Republicans are gonna have to take that into account. Now, look, I don’t like the people at the top — [Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence] Tabas, for example, he was non-existent on this, and they’re [the state Republican Party] spending a hundred thousand dollars to figure out what went wrong.
You and I have just talked about two of them, but Doug, your campaign — look, you were a novice at this, and when I had you on, I thought you were a good guy on this, but a little bit naive about it. You didn’t campaign that much in southeastern Pennsylvania. Have you learned from that?
Mastriano: Man, I was there more than any other part of the state, actually — the general election. I mean, my last campaign stop, for instance, was a Montgomery County [stop] not too far from Shapiro’s house, and we stopped counting at a thousand people.
I spent, you know, entire weekends in, in Philadelphia, in the suburbs, in the suburbs, and in Philadelphia. I mean, Chester County is supposed to have a meet and greet — [it] turned into a rally where 500 showed up on a Saturday morning. I mean, we did a lot of time in the Southeast.
Um, but, you know, in that regard, it’s really difficult to run a campaign basically on your own.
Now, let’s talk about the campaign. I mean, we’ve set a record over 2.2 million voters for Mastriano, but — like 90 some percent [voting] on, on the election day. That is more than [Tom] Corbett or [Scott] Wagner or the Great Dick Thornberg or [Mike] Fisher or [Lynn] Swann.
I mean, this is more votes that a Republican gubernatorial candidate has received since 1962, — William Scranton — and is the second-highest in, in our, uh, state’s history. So the grassroots did fantastic, but you know, the, the, the weakness was we won on election day with in-person voting, but we were killed, slaughtered by no-excuse mail-in voting. And that’s, that’s the lesson learned.
Giordano: How do we — what does Doug Mastri say we do to ensure — because people are on board, Doug — but what do we do to ensure what laws or procedures to make mail-in balloting something where they can’t connive as much, particularly where I am in Philadelphia? Do you have a thought on that?
Mastriano: Yeah, I do. And, you know, and the first step we had teed up. But sadly, with the drama in the House, it looks like that might fail.
But a constitutional amendment for a voter ID, and every time you vote, you have to present an ID. So that would help tighten up the very loose election laws that we had, but that the Democrats interpret, you know, very generously. So we’ll start with voter ID, part one: that includes no-excuse mail-in voting.
Giordano: Okay. Doug, you know, what, what do you make of the fact, though, that in a place like you’ve just attributed to mail-in voting that you historically barely won in Lancaster County? Doug. So what happened there?
Mastriano: Well, I mean, there’s a couple issues here. Demographically, of course, many of the people are leaving the southeast for these safe, low-tax, Republican areas. And for some reason, Dom, I don’t get it. When they leave Jersey and elsewhere, they, they bring their politics with them.
It’s like, why’d you leave Jersey or Chester County? And, uh, you’re gonna bring the vote the same way. So that’s number one.
Uh, number two was there’s a conservative outlet there that has a hundred thousand subscribers in the county. For some reason, they kept on — we agree on, on life and all these other [issues], but for some reason I, I wasn’t as perfect of a candidate as they imagined. And so, uh, they kept on hitting me and, and leaning towards libertarian. And so that had a bad effect on me.
Giordano: Now Doug, with all deference to this, and you’re good enough to come on. So let me be as careful as I can so to get a good answer from you. You’re the guy in this, and I don’t detect bitterness, et cetera here, which I — I would be bitter. I’m a bitter — I have to admit it. It would be hard to come forward after this, this kind of defeat.
But Doug, what about — and the media complicit in this, and we know the media is gonna be complicit — what about some of the, shall we say, more provocative elements, events that you went to and the media doing big exposes on that? Would you advise? And if you ran again statewide, would you do that again?
Or would you say — you just said on the mail-in ballot, and I’m in agreement with you, neither one of us like it, but we get it. We gotta beat them at that. Can’t just depend on election days. What about some of the connections and groups that, in some circles, are seen as fine, but more broadly to voters, [the] media’s gonna run with that and kill you with that.
Mastriano: Yeah, and thank you for phrasing it that way as well. This is a really, Dom — I am not bitter. Uh, you know, I’m, I’m a soldier. I like to learn from, you know, mistakes and, and [unclear] right wrong. And how we can do it better next time. We have to win. This is no game. I mean, our lives are on, on the line. Our freedoms are at stake.
I just wish, you know, and maybe this is, you know, a naive part of me here, I wish the media would be as severe on the controversial event that Josh Shapiro supports or goes to. I mean, we uncovered that he was part of this drag queen story hour drag queen, you know, bingo show — no problem, you know, for Josh Shapiro to be, uh, talking with these radical groups here with a terrible agenda for our kids.
And I just wish the same measure was used on both sides. You know, I speak to lots of groups, I, around the state and have been — you know, you and I began speaking about three years ago now, ever since the shutdown, it’s like a lifetime ago. And, uh, I, I don’t know. I mean, you know, that’s one thing I don’t like about politicians, and I think this is why I received more votes than any Republican gubernatorial candidate in sixty years. I’m just a real deal. I’m not gonna change, you know, to get your vote. Here’s what I believe, and if you don’t like me, then, you know, go with the other guys.
Giordano: All right, well, to that point though, Doug, one, one piece of advice, and look, you’ve been very gracious. You don’t tell me, ‘Well, you’ve been critical of me. How can you give me advice?’ Why not, Doug, would you change this rather than not taking on the, uh, shall we call it, mainstream media? You have the ability, I saw it during the debates. Why not challenge them more on this — why not not fire back, rather than your campaign pretty much avoided a lot of them, many times. You could handle them, right?
Mastriano: Oh yeah, we can. And we, you know, for instance, we did a press conference in Lancaster, after one of our rallies, there’s like ten or fifteen media in the room. And I’ll note Josh Shapiro was not transparent or is engaging as his buddies in the media claim. I had media tried to track him down at events and they wouldn’t let them in. But, uh, so we had this press conference on crime and law and order, and you know, in my platform, [Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate] Carrie DelRosso was there speaking as well. And there was not one question on crime because it does not benefit their guy.
Giordano: Um, but, but Doug, Doug isn’t the approach, the Gingrich approach. Just study him more. I know you know it, but I wanted to emphasize it, which is to say: ‘I’m going to answer that question. But first — you know, the question you asked — we’re here to talk about this X, Y, and Z’ and then Gingrich proceeds to answer it, it puts them [the media] in short pants, so to speak. You know, do things like that.
Mastriano: That’s, that’s sound advice. You know what’s funny is, Dom, so there was a drive by, I was in the Capitol during the general election. You know, some [unclear] senator actually showed up to work, unlike Fetterman, who just showed one day of work, uh, ever, ever since he was running, which I’d be slaughtered in the media for.
And so an NBC affiliate was in the Capitol interviewing one of their left-wing buddies, and they came running over to me and my wife and stuck the camera in my face. And I’m like, ‘I’m on the way to a meeting, but I’ll talk to you guys for five minutes or so.’ So I answered a bunch of her questions, uh, and the story that night was, uh, ‘Mastraino walked away from our cameras.’ I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? So…
Giordano: I, I hear you. It’s difficult — we know that. But look, the mail-in ballot something is an anathema to you and me, but we’re willing to compromise, because if we don’t win, it’s gonna get worse. So Doug, I guess the last question would be, would you consider a future run? Are you thinking about that?
Mastriano: We’re, we’re praying about that. You know, we have — so, why? So we have, you know, as, as much as some might think otherwise, we had this massive turnout, the largest in 60 years, and it’s incredible, this movement we have, and it’s largely grassroots. We need a new RNC chair. And I’ll, I’ll be reaching out to Harmeet [Dhillon], already been talking to Mike Lindell, and letting them know what I experienced with the RNC. You have the RNC that raised, uh, [RNC national chairwoman] Ronna, McDaniel raised one point some billion and squandered, $20 million of that on, on gifts and luxury travel and have you. That money should have come to the state. It’s my earnest belief as a strategist — I got two degrees in strategy — that had $10 million of the $20 million as she spent on luxury travel and Botox, uh, came and ran ads against Shapiro, we could have walked away with it.
I just — nobody knew the dark side of Shapiro. And so it’s got a, we need not, not just the grassroots — that’s key and essential — but we need the national organization to pitch in.
Last thought is, and I’m not gonna do names cause I don’t wanna make it personal, you know, within Pennsylvania, but there’s a state PAC in Pennsylvania for conservatives that raises tens of millions of dollars and they endorsed somebody else in the primary, which is fine, but they didn’t lift a finger to help us in the general election, andI would say in some ways, [it] helped Shapiro.
I don’t know how Republicans — we can win these elections when we’re fighting against each other, when we have leaders of the party, you know, jumping in and supporting Shapiro. Like, I’m not gonna mention names once again, you, you know who they are.
Yeah, either, either we’re all in or not. I admire the Democrats and their unity and solidarity and how they stick with their guy. Shapiro is not a perfect candidate and neither am I, but they stuck by him thick and thin despite all his bad votes and his mishandling of crime in the state. And that kind of union effort, if we could get only ten percent of that, Dom, we’ll win the next race.
Giordano: Doug, thank you very, very much. Thanks for… anything else you’d like to add? You have the floor. Just anything else Doug Mastriano wants to say?
Mastriano: And thank you for having me on. I, you know, I’m cognizant you and I have differed, but when it got to the general election, you know, we came together. We need the rest of the state to do that. So yes, I’m disappointed as so many people are that worked so hard for us out there. We can’t give up. We lost one battle. The war’s not over. We have to persevere. So please, Republicans stay in the fight, run for your county, be on your Republican county party. We need your voice there. Run for school board, local government, and, uh, we’ll see what happens in a couple years when this race is open again.
Giordano: All right, well, Doug, thank you. We’re always here. Thank you very much for coming on today.