HARRISBURG – Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, has broken the state’s two-decade-old campaign spending record by running against Republican Doug Mastriano, who was on track to spend less than a tenth of it.
The contest between Shapiro and Mastriano may test just how powerful campaign spending is in one of the nation’s highest-profile gubernatorial races. One candidate has spent more money than any other candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, and the other has spent less than any other for at least the last two decades.
The money Shapiro raised allowed him to run TV ads every day since April, helping him lead in the polls since the race began. In recent days, Mastriano has begun running his first television ad since he won the Republican primary in May, even as he complains that the national party is not coming to his aid.
Mastriano still predicts victory and touts his campaign as an unrivaled grassroots operation, but he also acknowledges that he is getting hit in the donation race.
“There are a lot of well-intentioned people who have never run for office or a state campaign who have all this great advice: ‘You need to run more TV ads,'” Mastriano told a conservative radio talk show host Friday. “OK, that’s a great idea, how about you donate and help us do that?”
In total, Shapiro has outspent Mastriano by 16 to 1 in the 2021-22 campaign cycle, according to campaign finance filings through the latest state reporting deadline of Sept. 19.
Shapiro has reported $44 million in spending, including in-kind contributions, dwarfing the 2001-02 campaign spending record set by Democrat Ed Rendell of just under $42 million. He still has weeks to add to that total.
Mastriano, in turn, has reported expenses of less than $3 million. Shapiro reported that he still had $11 million in the bank; Mastriano reported $2.6 million.
The spending imbalance is explained, at least in part, by Shapiro’s fundraising prowess and his deep connections to party donors.
But also, explains Mastriano, a political novice who has alienated core Republican donors by campaigning with far-right figures, backing a total abortion ban with no exceptions, and peddling conspiracy theories, including lies by former President Donald Trump of a stolen elections in 2020.
Mastriano was also outside the US Capitol during the January 6, 2021 insurrection and was photographed taking video of protesters attacking police before he allegedly walked away.
“It’s pretty clear, he’s an extremist candidate,” said Jim Schultz, a Republican campaign fundraiser, strategist and lawyer who supports Shapiro. “I’m not surprised that, one, Republican donors are supporting Josh Shapiro and two, they’re not giving Mastriano in any meaningful way.”
The unions have also solidified support for Shapiro, giving him more than $8 million to take on Mastriano, whom they see as an existential threat for his support of right-to-work laws.
With just three weeks to go until Election Day, the prospects for national Republican support for Mastriano are fading.
Shapiro has reported receiving millions of dollars — more than $5.5 million so far — from the national organization of the party that supports gubernatorial candidates, the Democratic Governors Association.
Mastriano said Friday that he hasn’t seen a dime of help from the GOP’s counterpart organization, one of his frequent complaints.
His biggest donor is Midwestern shipping supply tycoon Dick Uihlein, who is a huge contributor to conservative causes and gave Mastriano $1 million.