Mastriano more than doubled the vote count of his nearest competitor (Barletta). He came fairly close to pulling a majority, in an eight-candidate race. In a Republican primary, there is no way that Democratic advertising caused, or heavily influenced that outcome. The unpleasant reality is that Doug Mastriano reflects the values of the Republican base - or at least the activist base that actually votes in primaries - in Pennsylvania. White Christian Nationalist, relatively unconcerned with democracy, OK with systematic dishonesty if that’s what it takes to “win.” MAGA. Trumpism. The end justifies the means.
Yes, it was widely understood that Mastriano could probably not win a general election. But 44% of Republican primary voters didn’t opt for Mastriano because Josh Shapiro “propped him up.” They opted for Mastriano because Mastriano appealed to them, because they agree with his positions, as odious as those are.
Mastriano was probably helped by the fact that Lou Barletta is a pretty creepy politician, who realistically should give up seeking statewide office in Pennsylvania. But even if it had been a two-candidate race, Barletta would have had to split the 36% of voters who opted for “neither” of the top two candidates 5-1, to catch Mastriano (30% to Barletta, 6% to Mastriano).
I can understand some conservatives, some Republicans, finding Mastriano… unappealing, to say the least. But the reality here is that the Republican base in Pennsylvania selected Mastriano by a margin that says they wanted Mastriano.