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Jenna Ellis demanded that a GOP governors group give Doug Mastriano money. It didn’t go well.

Philadelphia Inquirer 9/23/2022 William Bender, Julia Terruso, The Philadelphia Inquirer
State Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Philadelphia), left, at a campaign event for Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, right. At center is Sheila Armstrong, whose family members have been killed in gun violence. © Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS State Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Philadelphia), left, at a campaign event for Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, right. At center is Sheila Armstrong, whose family members have been killed in gun violence.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And if you’re Jenna Ellis — legal adviser to Doug Mastriano, social-media maven, and election-denier extraordinaire — they include siccing your 890,000 Twitter followers on the Republican Governors Association to demand money for your candidate’s campaign.

Ellis, in a Tuesday tweet, shared a phone number and email address for the RGA and instructed her followers to “tell them DOUG FOR GOV!!”

“The Republican Governors Association would rather see an insane extremist Democrat win in Pennsylvania than have a Republican they can’t control,” she tweeted, referring to Democrat Josh Shapiro. “Doug Mastriano’s race is MORE CRITICAL THAN EVER for freedom from BOTH SIDES!”

Ellis apparently thought better of the online stickup and quickly deleted the tweet.

We’re fairly certain this tactic will not inspire Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, chair of the RGA, to authorize any wire transfers to Pennsylvania.

Mastriano has been courting the RGA since he won the GOP primary in May despite opposition from establishment Republicans. But Ducey and his crew continue to view the far-right Christian nationalist as the political equivalent of a fire-breathing carny. Great show from a distance.

“We’re watching Pennsylvania very closely,” Ducey said last week during a forum hosted by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service. He added that while he sees the contest as a “pickup opportunity,” his group generally does not fund “lost causes” or “landslides.”

“So we’re in a relationship with our candidate, but we’re saying to the candidates, you have to show us something,” Ducey said. “You have to demonstrate that you can move numbers. That you can raise resources.”

From May: Mastriano embodies a Christian nationalist movement as he runs for governor

Ellis instead took that as her cue to go Leeroy Jenkins on the situation and remind Ducey that: 1) Mastriano has not raised much money, 2) does not trust you or the GOP establishment, and 3) would very much like you to give him all your money anyway.

The phone number Ellis shared appears to belong to Jessica Furst Johnson, the RGA’s general counsel, according to court documents. Johnson did not return a request for comment. Nor did Ellis or Mastriano’s campaign.

Supporters of Shapiro, the state attorney general, screen-grabbed Ellis’ demand, which is unfortunate for Ellis. But also for whoever has to answer that phone.

Meanwhile, Mastriano did an interview this week on Steve Bannon’sWar Room podcast, telling the freshly indicted former aide to Donald Trumpthat he seriously needs cash. Mastriano said his election in November could potentially help the Republican presidential nominee win Pennsylvania in 2024, because “I get to appoint the secretary of state.”

“Americans, wherever you live in the world, if you’re an American citizen, you can donate to my campaign,” Mastriano said. “There are no limits in Pennsylvania.”

Mastriano later recorded a Facebook live video in which he looked more dejected than we’ve ever seen him, reminiscent of the occasional “so sad sometimes” vibes of our own Mayor Jim Kenney.

“Really not finding a lot of support,” Mastriano said, “from the national-level Republican organizations.”

On the upside for Mastriano, though — some polls show the race could be pretty close.

Cheer up, Doug!

Philly Democrat’s Oz ‘protest’ falls flat

State Rep. Chris Rabb says he attended a campaign event for Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz on Monday “in protest.”

It was a very silent protest.

Rabb, a Northwest Philly Democrat, went to Oz’s “safer streets” discussion in Germantown, near his district. It was billed by Oz’s campaign as an event to discuss gun violence. Rabb sat two seats away from Oz and listened quietly — save for one instance when someone misstated the federal minimum wage.

“It’s $7.25 an hour,” Rabb said.

Minutes after the event wrapped, Rabb was calling Clout after tweets about his attendance stirred confusion online — and seemingly within Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman’s campaign.

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Rabb told Clout he went to the event at a neighborhood church to hear what was being said to voters in his community. He said he didn’t want to speak out and appear insensitive after Sheila Armstrong, who helped plan the event, talked about the loss of her brother and nephew to gun violence.

“I did not feel comfortable saying what I wanted to say in a house of God, next to a grieving mother,” Rabb said. “It was not the right venue.”

But Rabb told a different story in the statement Fetterman’s campaign blasted out later in the day.

“I repeatedly tried to speak during the program and make my voice heard, but was never allowed to,” Rabb said.

Clout saw no evidence of this at the roundtable discussion, where people raised their hand for the mic when they wanted to speak.

Randy Robinson, a Republican strategist who moderated, called Rabb’s characterization “an outright lie” on Twitter.

Asked Wednesday about the discrepancy, Rabb said he didn’t want to overshadow people sharing their often-traumatic experiences.

“When I felt compelled to say something, I didn’t have a mic,” Rabb said. He said Robinson, who was calling on people to talk, also never made eye contact with him.

At the end of the event, Rabb left without shaking Oz’s hand, and ripped Oz’s campaign flier in half. “I Pelosi-fied the pamphlet,” he said.

Rabb said he wished more cameras had caught that moment.

It would have likely saved him a few phone calls.

Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.

Staff writers Chris Brennan and Anna Orso contributed to this article.

©2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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