Our opinion: GOP needs engaged candidates
When state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Fayetteville, conceded the 2022 governor’s race last week, he had secured about 41.9 percent of the vote.
For comparison, Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, coasted to reelection with 62.8 percent of the vote. Even left-leaning New York gave about 47.1 percent of the vote to Republican nominee Lee Zeldin.
The last time Pennsylvania did not have an incumbent governor on the ballot, in 2010, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett received 54.5 percent of the vote. When he lost his bid for reelection in 2014, he still received 45.1 percent of the vote.
When the campaign trail brought Mastriano to Jersey Shore in the summer of 2022, he didn’t invite the Sun-Gazette or other local media to cover his remarks. When he visited Mansfield and Galeton, he again did not invite coverage — fortunately for our readers the venue hosting him in Galeton reached out instead.
When the Sun-Gazette in Williamsport wanted to schedule interviews with both Mastriano and Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro, the Shapiro campaign responded within four days. Despite numerous attempts to contact the Mastriano campaign, including recruiting local party leaders to assist, we never heard a single word back.
Lest anyone think this is about us, the most telling anecdote perhaps comes from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer from September, an article with many anecdotes about Mastriano avoiding reporters and writers.
Pundit and columnist Salena Zito described how the Mastriano campaign had given her the cold shoulder too. She went on to write extensively about our senate race, asking tough questions about Sen.-elect John Fetterman and praising the conservatism of Republican nominee Mehmet Oz instead. She wrote very little — if anything at all — about our gubernatorial race.
Mastriano wasn’t willing to speak to voters who disagreed with him. He wasn’t willing to talk to voters who were undecided or media outlets who strive to be impartial. He wasn’t even willing to talk to people who might “only” agree with him 80 or 90 percent of the time.
If Republicans want a better chance at wining the governor’s office in four years or eight years, they need a candidate who is willing to talk to all Pennsylvanians instead.