(AP Photo/David Dermer) Doug Mastriano
(AP Photo/David Dermer)

The Mastriano campaign recently held an event with Jack Posobiec, an internet conspiracy theorist and commentator known for creating and amplifying conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate.

In most campaigns for political office, the tendency is to play at the base in the primary, and then shift or modify the tone in the general election in order to appeal to a larger, more general audience.

But as Republican Doug Mastriano’s campaign for governor heads into the home stretch of the 2022 campaign cycle, hoping to convince the people of Pennsylvania to elect Mastriano to be the next governor, they are not in any way moderating their message.

Instead, they are going from extreme, to more extreme, to hard-to-believe extreme.

On Oct. 1, the Mastriano campaign held an event with Jack Posobiec, an internet conspiracy theorist and commentator from what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the anti-democracy hard right.”

Posobiec came to prominence during the 2016 presidential race “while working as an operative for the Roger Stone-linked 501(c)4 organization Citizens for Trump.” His litany of conspiracy theories is long and often nonsensical, and it includes a significant role in the Pizzagate series of lies that became popular during the 2016 presidential campaign and led one disturbed man to fire a loaded weapon in a crowded restaurant, leading to his arrest and a sentence of four years in prison.

The Pizzagate conspiracy theory alleged that children were being trafficked by a cabal of prominent Democrats, and that the crimes were being committed in the basement of a pizza place in Washington, D.C. Not only were the claims false, but the restaurant in question didn’t even have a basement.

When given the floor at the Mastriano rally last weekend, Posobiec made several statements about polling and fundraising and of course, crowd size, and about how Mastriano’s lagging numbers in each area are not, in fact, a sign of any weakness in his campaign, but instead simply media creations designed to hide the truth.

“We are going to take Pennsylvania back,” he said.

Posobiec, surprisingly, made no claims about hidden children anywhere in the facility where the event was being held.

While the final days of any campaign typically involve appealing to undecided voters and those who have not yet made a decision, Mastriano is doubling down on his extremism by platforming some of the most egregious abusers of truth and decency that the fringe-right has to offer.

As Election Day approaches, Mastriano may not be leading in the polls, but he’s leading in toxicity by a wide margin.