A left-wing group is trying to disqualify outspoken Trump supporter Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano from the state governor’s race because he allegedly participated in an “insurrection” against the U.S. government by supporting the former president’s reelection bid.
Recent polling shows Mastriano has the lead—garnering 19 percent support—in the field of 9 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor of the Keystone State, according to a poll Eagle Consulting Group conducted of 502 likely GOP primary voters from April 7 through April 9, PennLive reports. The primary election is May 17. The current governor, Democrat Tom Wolf, is term-limited. Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running unopposed in the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial primary.
This alleged insurrection supposedly culminated in the security breach on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol complex in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump delayed the congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election results for several hours. Democrats and a handful of Republicans characterize the disturbance as an insurrection or coup attempt aimed at overthrowing the U.S. government, a claim that has been adamantly denied by Trump and his supporters.
Those trying to kick Mastriano off the ballot say his actions triggered the rarely invoked Disqualification Clause in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was enacted in the wake of the Civil War to keep former Confederates out of Congress and state governments.
The provision states in the relevant part: “No person shall … hold any office … under any state, who, having previously taken an oath … or as a member of any state legislature … any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
A nonprofit called Free Speech For People is urging Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman, a Democrat, to bar Mastriano “from appearing on the ballot for election to any state office in Pennsylvania,” according to a letter (pdf) the group recently sent to Chapman.
“You have the authority and responsibility to determine, as part of the state ballot qualification process, that because Mr. Mastriano engaged in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Mastriano is ineligible to appear on the gubernatorial ballot or on any other ballot for office in the state of Pennsylvania,” the letter states.
Before the events of Jan. 6, Mastriano reportedly argued that Pennsylvania’s presidential election in November 2020 was unfair and corrupt. He claimed election fraud was rampant and unsuccessfully urged the state legislature to fix the problem by exercising its authority under Article II, section 1, of the U.S. Constitution to appoint the state’s presidential electors directly.
The letter states that Mastriano was present at the rally that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021 security breach and “subsequently rode a golf cart and marched to the Capitol,” but provides no evidence that he participated in or encouraged the breaching of security.
Free Speech For People senior counsel Courtney Hostetler and three other officials from the group signed the letter in which they requested a meeting with Chapman to discuss Mastriano’s current candidacy and “why former President Donald Trump, who incited the January 6, 2021 insurrection, is disqualified for future public office … and must be barred from any future ballot in Pennsylvania.”
It is unclear if Chapman took any action as a result of the letter. Her office did not respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.
The Epoch Times also reached out to Mastriano for comment.
Mastriano’s office in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in Harrisburg declined to comment.
“In accordance with the law, staff cannot engage and will be unable to respond to inquiries regarding campaign matters,” legislative staffer Felicia Wallace replied by email.
Mastriano’s campaign did not reply to repeated requests for comment.
This article by Matthew Vadum appeared April 17, 2022, in The Epoch Times.