Mastriano distances from Gab CEO, doesn't disavow anti-Jewish comments

Republican Gov. Candidate in Penn. rejects anti-Semitism after public outcry of Christian nationalist ally.

 Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano gives a victory speech at his election-night party in Chambersburg, Pa., May 17, 2022 (photo credit: GETTY IMAGES/JTA)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano gives a victory speech at his election-night party in Chambersburg, Pa., May 17, 2022
(photo credit: GETTY IMAGES/JTA)

Doug Mastriano, a Republican candidate for governor of Pennslyvania, released a statement to his Twitter account on Friday denouncing antisemitism and distancing himself from his alleged consultant and Gab CEO Andrew Torba, without directly disavowing him for his statements that Jews and non-Christians weren't welcome in the conservative movement.   

“Andrew Torba doesn’t speak for me or my campaign,” Mastriano wrote. “I reject antisemitism in any form. Recent smears by the Democrats and the media are blatant attempts to distract Pennsylvanians from suffering inflicted by Democrat policies.”

"My policy is not to conduct interviews with reporters who aren't Christian or with outlets who aren't Christian and Doug has a very similar media strategy where he does not do interviews with these people.”

Gab CEO Andrew Torba

“While extremist speech is an unfortunate but inevitable cost of living in a free society, extremist policies are not- and the only candidate in this election who wants to impose extreme policies on Pennsylvania – inflation, crime, lockdowns, and mandates – is Josh Shapiro,” the candidate continued in his Twitter post.

Shapiro, the Democratic candidate and current Attorney General of Pennsylvania, responded to Mastriano’s Twitter statement by quoting his opponent who, in an interview in May with Torba, told him “Thank God for what you’ve done.” 

Mastriano reportedly paid Gab $5000 in campaign funds for “consulting” in early July. 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro appears on CNN on Nov. 4 to discuss vote counting in Pennsylvania (credit: screenshot)Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro appears on CNN on Nov. 4 to discuss vote counting in Pennsylvania (credit: screenshot)

Gab CEO's comments

Torba is an outspoken Christian nationalist who has said that Jews and other non-Christians are "not conservative" because conservatism is "an explicitly Christian movement" and because the US "is an explicitly Christian country."

"My policy is not to conduct interviews with reporters who aren't Christian or with outlets who aren't Christian and Doug has a very similar media strategy where he does not do interviews with these people,” the Gab CEO said. “These people are dishonest. They're liars. They're a den of vipers and they want to destroy you.”

“Doug should make sure he makes it clear that he doesn’t agree with the people posting hateful things on the site,’’ Andy Reilly, the national Republican committeeman for Pennsylvania, said hours before Mastriano released his Twitter statement, according to the New York Times.

Media Matters for America (MMA), a media watchdog organization, reported how Gab users have called for antisemitic violence in response to the controversy over Torba's comments. 

Reporter Eric Hananoki wrote for MMA that “Many of [Gab’s] users are antisemites and neo-Nazis who use the site to express their hatred toward Jewish people. Gab CEO Andrew Torba is a virulent antisemite who this year reposted praise of Gab as a place to get 'differing opinions' on the Holocaust.” 

The Republican candidate’s personal Gab account appears to be deleted. The website prides itself on being a “social network that champions free speech, individual liberty and the free flow of information online.” 

“Andrew Torba doesn’t speak for me or my campaign.”

Doug Mastriano

In a Fox poll taken in late July, 50% of PA registered voters said they would vote for Shapiro if they were voting then, while 40% said they would vote for Mastriano. The poll also showed that 69% of Shapiro supporters are enthusiastic about backing him compared to 49% of Mastriano’s supporters.