Retired U.S. Army Col. Douglas Mastriano of Franklin County is the latest Republican to come forward since U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster announced in January that he would not seek another term.
Bill Shuster has held Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District seat since 2001, following his father, Bud, who served from 1973 to 2001.
The son of a career U.S. Navy man, Mastriano is an Eagle Scout and worked as a paperboy, janitor, security guard, short-order cook, pizza delivery person and dishwasher. After completing college in 1986, he began his military service on the Iron Curtain with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in West Germany. He said this was during the Cold War, and the Soviet empire threatened a global conflict. After serving along the East German and Czechoslovakian borders and witnessing the end of the Cold War, he deployed to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm (1990-1991). His regiment led the attack against Saddam Hussein's Republican Guards, culminating in the Battle of 73rd Easting.
In a news release, Mastriano said, "by God’s grace and having survived many close calls of death," he subsequently served in tactical, operational and strategic assignments in Washington, D.C., the 3rd Infantry Division and US Army Europe.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mastriano was the lead planner for the operation to invade Iraq from Turkey. He served four years with NATO and deployed to three times to Afghanistan, where he was the director of the Joint Intelligence Center, overseeing intelligence across the war torn region, leading 80 soldiers from 18 nations. He organized and led seven relief operations helping Afghan orphans.
Mastriano has foreign policy experience in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Russia.
Mastriano is a historian and has a Ph.D. from the University of New Brunswick, Canada. He has four master’s degrees, which include; strategy, strategic intelligence, military operations, and airpower. He also earned a bachelor's degree from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, in 1986, and was awarded Eastern's alumnus of the year in 2009.
He led the search to locate where America's greatest World War I hero, Alvin York, received the Medal of Honor. American and French authorities endorsed his findings, and he led the construction of a 3-mile trail, replete with two monuments and nine historic markers in the Argonne Forest, France, for visitors to walk where York fought. Mastriano authored "Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne," and his new book " Thunder in the Argonne" tells the story of America’s largest battle, the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Campaign.
Mastriano is married to the former Rebecca Stewart, whose ancestors were a "first family," having settled north of Chambersburg in 1732. Their son Josiah is an Eagle Scout and Canadian Chief Scout and is a recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards.
"For the first time in 45 years, we have an opportunity to end the reign of career politicians in our 9th Congressional District and to restore our voice in Washington, D.C.," Mastriano said in the invitation to his announcement event.
He said his priorities are:Restore family values Protect the unborn Defend the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment Stop government oppression of the middle class Promote peace through strength and end aid to nations/governments that hate the U.S.
About the race
The 9th District currently includes all of Bedford, Blair, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton and Indiana counties and parts of Cambria, Greene, Huntingdon, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Others running in the 9th District include:Third-term state Sen. John Eichelberger Jr., whose district includes western Franklin County. Art Halvorson, a Coast Guard veteran and a Tea Party-backed conservative who lost narrowly to Shuster in 2016. Rep. Dave Reed of Indiana County, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader. Travis Schooley, project and engineering coordinator and water treatment plant operator for Quincy Township.
The primary election is May 15. The deadline to file paperwork to get on the ballot is March 6.