Josh Shapiro, the newly appointed Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, on Sunday defended a TV ad he aired that appeared to elevate the position of the Republican rival he will face in November – a man Mr Shapiro called of the country’s most extreme candidate for governor.
The announcement is part of a long-standing strategy among campaign tacticians: elevate your most extreme rival and weed out disgruntled moderates from that rival’s party in November. Last week, Axios noted that the rise of far-right, Trump-aligned candidates could test this theory and that Democrats are “trying to create the rise of ultra-MAGA candidates who they believe will be easier to defeat. in general elections”.
But in today’s highly polarized environment, in which party affiliation is deeply tied to people’s sense of identity, this strategy could backfire, as many Democrats were stunned by the learn in 2016.
During the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, Mr. Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, ran an ad that called state senator Doug Mastriano “one of Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters.” The ad went on to say that Mr. Mastriano “wants to end mail-in voting. He led the fight to audit the 2020 election. If Mastriano wins, it’s a victory for what Donald Trump stands for.”
Mr Mastriano was a central figure in Mr Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and, if he wins in November, he may be able to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. state in 2024.
On Sunday, CNN host Dana Bash asked Mr. Shapiro if it was “irresponsible” to re-raise a candidate like Mr. Shapiro “because you think you can beat him.”
That was not the case, Mr. Shapiro said. For weeks, Mr. Mastriano led the crowded Republican field, according to public and private polls, and Mr. Shapiro, who was unchallenged for the Democratic nomination, said he was eager to make voters understand the choice facing they would soon be confronted.
“What we’ve done is kick off the general election campaign and demonstrate the stark contrast, the stark differences between him and me,” Shapiro said.