CHAMBERSBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) – Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s Republican governorate candidate, is arguably best known for negating the January 6 elections John Fetterman, a Democrat hoping to reverse his Senate seat. revolutionized the way campaigns use social media. And Dr. Mehmet Oz was a television celebrity long before the GOP Senate campaign began.

And then there’s Josh Shapiro.

In one of the most politically competitive states in the United States, the Democratic governorate candidate campaigns without drama, on the bets that the relatively under-radar approach will resonate among voters exhausted by the deeply charged political environment. But Shapiro is facing a test of whether his relatively modest style will spur Democrats to rally against Mastriano, whom many in the parties see as an existential threat.

The GOP candidate, who worked to keep Donald Trump in power and overthrow President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, supports the lifting of the right to ab*rtion and would be able to appoint a secretary of state to oversee elections in that state, often deciding on the election. presidents.

The tension with Shapiro’s strategy was evident during a recent march through this small town, a dot in deep republican south-central Pennsylvania. He spent 10 minutes checking his story as a two-time attorney general and his political goals if he becomes governor, such as expanding high-speed internet and increasing school funding. But he also admitted that he knew what the viewers meant, noting his wife giving him a simple reminder every morning: “You’d better win.”

Shapiro, 49, then began to speak more clearly about the implications of Mastriano’s victory.

“This guy is the most dangerous, extreme person to have ever run for governor in Pennsylvania, and by far the most dangerous, extreme candidate for office in the United States of America,” Shapiro told a crowd in Chambersburg, Mastriano’s headquarters in his conservative Senate State District.

Shapiro manages something like a two-track campaign, one built for the conventional election year and the other targeting a tense political environment in the wake of the January 6, 2021 att*ck on the Capitol and the overthrow of landmark Roe v. Wade, a decision guaranteeing the right to ab*rtion.

Last month, Shapiro ran a state-wide TV ad discussing a case he brought as the attorney general against a contractor who agreed to pay his salary after Shapiro’s office accused him of stealing employees. He then aired television commercials describing Mastriano as a threat to democracy, pointing out that Mastriano was watching on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 as pro-Trump demonstrators att*cked police.

“This is where my opponent took the side of the enraged crowd, marched to the Capitol, breached police lines, and did it for one purpose, all: they didn’t want your votes to count,” said Shapiro. audience in Gettysburg, prompting one woman to exclaim, “He’s a traitor.”

Democrats who go to meet Shapiro do not lose this message.

“I think these are just decisive choices,” said 29-year-old Marissa Sandoe. “I think these elections will determine whether we will still have democracy in this country.”

Shapiro later dismisses suggestions that for his supporters, the water of governor’s politics in a normal year is dr*wned out by existential issues such as saving democracy.

“I am focused like a laser beam on improving the lives of Pennsylvania residents,” said Shapiro.

The first half of the term of the new administration is often a challenge for the presidential party. But for now, polls suggest Shaprio is leading Mastriano and has a significant fundraising advantage as well. Shapiro launched TV commercials worth over $ 20 million, while Mastriano has run almost nothing and nothing since the primaries.

By campaigning in the state where Biden was born, Shaprio could benefit from regaining Biden’s approval.

The president’s popularity nationally rose to 45% from 36% in July, although concerns remain about his conduct with the economy, according to a September poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Republican Party leaders, who initially criticized Mastriano as too extreme to win the fall general election, say that despite his shortcomings, he can still win if the electorate is angry enough about inflation to mark every box against the Democrats as a vote against Biden.

But Republicans admit that Mastriano is leading a race focused largely on his right-wing base, rather than reaching out to the moderates who often put the winners at the top in one of America’s most politically divided states.

Mastriano has received institutional fundraising aid, including events headlined by state party leaders Donald Trump Jr. and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Even so, Republican strategists whispered that fundraisers were not well-visited, and Mastriano this week posted a complaint on Facebook about the lack of support from “Republican organizations at the national level.”

“We haven’t seen much help from them and we have 49 days off,” said Mastriano.

During campaign events, Mastriano promises to be a pro-energy governor and bus expatriates to Biden’s Delaware home, and warns Shapiro is pursuing an extreme agenda.

“If we’re extreme at anything, it’s about loving our constitution,” Mastriano told a crowd gathered in nearby Chambersburg earlier this month.

For his part, Shapiro is bravely campaigning, taking advantage of Mastriano’s weaknesses. The Democrat will be a guest in early October at the annual Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry dinner, a group used to supporting Republicans as governor. Mastriano did not even accept an invitation to speak to the management, which Shapiro has already done.

The construction unions, which work on power plants, pipelines and refineries at the coal and gas power plants, have failed to live up to Mastriano’s promises that “we will drill and dig as if there is no tomorrow”.

Instead, they accepted Shapiro’s intermediate stance on energy and att*cked Mastriano’s support for the right to work policy as a curse even to rank and file voting for Republican.

“Here’s one thing my members get: they will never, never be with someone who has the right to work, never,” said James Snell, commercial director of Steamfitters Unit 420 in Philadelphia.

Shapiro also takes center positions that can help vaccinate against Mastriano’s att*cks.

The race was personal, and Mastriano repeatedly criticized Shapiro’s choice of a private school for his children – the Jewish day school – as “one of the most privileged and authorized schools in the country.”

Shapiro, a devout conservative Jew, replied that Mastriano – who is an advocate of what scholars call Christian nationalist ideology – wants to impose his religion on others and “dictate to people where and how they should worship and on what terms.”

Shapiro delved into Mastriano, saying that he speaks on a daily basis in “anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic tropes.” Mastriano calls it Shapiro’s distraction as the attorney general and failure to contain the growing killings in Philadelphia.

Even so, Shapiro draws crowds to the Mastriano grounds, away from his base in the exclusive suburbs of Philadelphia.

It’s fertile ground, said Marty Qually, Adams County Democratic Commissioner, including Gettysburg, because the Democrats are p*ssed off like they’ve never seen before, and even the Republicans there tell him they can’t accept Mastriano’s Christian nationalism or a tough stance on ab*rtion.

It says a lot that Shapiro is campaigning in small towns, not Democrat strongholds: It means he is comfortable in a place where the race is, Qually said.

‚ÄúSome people here said, ‘Why do you want to go to Franklin County? “Let me tell you something. I’m glad to come. You will make me feel at home.”

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