“If they’re embracing the importance of fighting Mickey Mouse over virtually any other issue, […] Good for them,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a recent press availability, “We’re happy to have a debate about that.”
Psaki was speaking about the Trumpist Right’s gleeful appropriation of President Biden’s pejorative “Ultra MAGA,” which he coined during a speech last Wednesday to describe the Conservative movement’s extremist lurch since the 2020 election. Trump’s Save America PAC rushed to sell T-shirts, and high-profile elected leaders like Elise Stefanik nearly choked on their eagerness to declare themselves Ultra MAGA too:
But it’s not only the GOP who sees a political advantage in pushing Republican candidates rightward ahead of the 2022 midterm primaries. While Republican candidates in races from Ohio to Pennsylvania, Oregon to North Carolina, battle gladiatorially for their own regional crowns of Most-Trumpy-Of-All-The-Trumpsters, Democrats like Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro are running their own ads to help them along.
Described by the Philadelphia Inquirer,“ The TV ad declares State Sen. Doug Mastriano one of Donald Trump’s strongest supporters.’
‘He wants to end vote by mail and he led the fight to audit the 2020 election,’ the narrator says. ‘If Mastriano wins, it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for.’”
On top of the TV ad, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is sending out mailers to registered Republicans in hopes of tilting the scales in favor of Mastriano, who many in Pennsylvania’s Republican establishment consider “not a viable general election candidate.”
The race for Pennsylvania’s GOP nominee for Governor features a nine candidate field, which Mastriano leads, but only by a very slight plurality. Yet his platform is easily the most fringe. As noted in this multi-state preview by FiveThirtyEight, Mastriano “has embraced Christian nationalism — the belief that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation that is now under attack — and shared QAnon conspiracy theories on social media. He has also helped lead the charge to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania and was present on the Capitol lawn on Jan. 6.”
Meanwhile, former President Trump is doing his part. He endorsed Mastriano on Saturday, saying, “He has revealed the Deceit, Corruption, and outright Theft of the 2020 Presidential Election, and will do something about it.” But according to Politico, following the Trump endorsement a GOP aide privately told reporters, “Shapiro just became the next governor and I don’t mean that hyperbolically.”