STATE

2020 election denial is on the ballot in Pennsylvania this year. These are the candidates.

Bruce Siwy
Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau

Some of the most prominent Pennsylvania Republicans on the ballot this fall have been among the loudest voices in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Across the commonwealth, GOP hopefuls for election or re-election have been entangled in the Jan. 6 investigation, have challenged the certification of electoral votes and have introduced bills that critics characterize as voter suppression. Here's a look at their records and statements on the 2020 election.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, candidate for governor

Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano greets supporters during a rally Aug. 10, 2022, at the Big Knob Grange in New Sewickley Township. His wife, Rebbie is beside him.

Bio: Doug Mastriano, a 58-year-old retired U.S. Army colonel, is a current Pennsylvania state Senator from Franklin County. He's also the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania after defeating a crowded field in the May primary and has been one of the leading voices of the Trump movement following the 2020 election. He faces Democrat Josh Shapiro in one of the most closely watched races in America.

Actions: He helped bus people to the Jan. 6 rally at the U.S. Capitol in support of Trump's false claim the election was stolen.

He led the effort to “audit” the election results in Pennsylvania.  

He was reportedly the “point person” to help electors willing to sign their names to the false vote documents. 

Mastriano also called on Biden to conduct an audit in 2021. 

“A full forensic investigation is necessary for the sake of transparency and accountability,” he said. “Those who have concerns about the integrity of the election will have those concerns investigated and hopefully addressed. Those who think that there was zero voter fraud, no irregularities and that the elections were conducted perfectly will have the chance to be vindicated.” 

He continues to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote in Pennsylvania, despite there being few cases of voter fraud. One of his bills in Pennsylvania would loosen restrictions on poll watchers. “We will secure elections in Pennsylvania!” he tweeted after Trump supported that bill. “Thank you for supporting our legislation, President Trump.”  

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U.S. Rep. John Joyce

U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-Pa., speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Blue Springs Egg Farm, Herbruck's Poultry Ranch's new $100 million sustainable cage-free egg-laying facility near Mercersburg.

Bio: John Joyce is an Altoona native who earned a degree with honors from Penn State University Park in 1979 and a doctorate from Temple University in 1983 before continuing his medical training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and with the U.S. Navy in Portsmouth, Virginia. Prior to his run for Congress, he and his wife, Dr. Alice Plummer Joyce, established and operated Altoona Dermatology Associates. He's unopposed in November.

Actions: He was among the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election results.

According to the Republican Accountability Project, Joyce voted against the impeachment of conviction of Trump for Jan. 6. He also opposed creating an independent commission to investigate the riot and objected to the certification of electoral college votes for 2020.

On New Year's Eve 2020, Joyce tweeted: "For the sake of our liberty and our American values, I will stand up for President (Trump) – and our American democracy – by objecting to the Electoral College certification on January 6. I will never stop fighting for the TRUTH."

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U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, of Butler, R-16th Dist., holds a press conference at Erie County Republican Party Headquarters in Millcreek Township on July 22, 2022.

Bio: Mike Kelly is a Pittsburgh native who's lived in Butler County for approximately half a century. He attended Notre Dame University on a football and academic scholarship, and helped operate his father's car dealership before his successful run for Congress in 2010. He faces Democrat Dan Pastore in November.

Actions: Kelly spearheaded an unsuccessful court challenge to the legality of 2020 mail ballots in Pennsylvania.

He was among the 147 Republicans who objected to the certification of electoral votes in that race.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, has said that that Kelly helped to orchestrate a failed false elector scheme after Biden won.

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U.S. Rep. Daniel Meuser

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser

Bio: Daniel Meuser's background includes an education at the New York Maritime University as well as Cornell University on a Navy ROTC scholarship. His career includes private sector business administration and an appointment as Pennsylvania's secretary of revenue under former Gov. Tom Corbett. Later this year Meuser faces Democrat Amanda Waldman in his re-election bid.

Actions: Meuser was among those who voted to reject the certification of Pennsylvania electors following the 2020 vote, stating that "a large number of Pennsylvanians are enormously frustrated with actions taken by elected and appointed officials in Pennsylvania, which have led to a high level of distrust for this past election."

He opposed Trump's impeachment in relation to Jan. 6.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., questions Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on  April 28.

Bio: Scott Perry is a former representative of the Pennsylvania Legislature and current member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's a Penn State University graduate and former owner of a mechanical contracting firm, and he retired from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 2019 with the rank of assistant adjutant general after 40 years of service. Democrat Shamaine Daniels is challenging Perry on the ballot in November.

Actions: Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Perry had discussions and meetings with White House officials bent on overturning the 2020 election.

He voted against certifying the 2020 election results.

Citing conspiracy theories, Perry urged election investigations from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Texts released by Meadows to the House Jan. 6 Committee suggest that Perry served as a liaison between the White House and Pennsylvania Legislature in coordinating efforts to delay or object to the commonwealth's Electoral College votes for now-President Joe Biden.

Perry has been identified, along with Mastriano and Kelly, as "a grave danger to American democracy" by the Defend Democracy Project, a group founded by a pair of former Obama White House attorneys.

U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler

U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler

Bio: Guy Reschenthaler is a graduate of Penn State and the law school at Duquesne University. Prior to his political career, he served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps and volunteered for duty in Iraq. He is unopposed in November.

Actions: Reschenthaler and several other GOP congressmen signed an amicus brief to join a challenge by the Texas attorney general to toss out the election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia.

He also voted against certifying the 2020 election results.

He opposed impeachment proceedings against Trump in relation to Jan. 6, stating that the "measure before us ... sets a dangerous precedent whereby political parties can justify impeachment simply because they do not agree with the president. I would urge my colleagues across the aisle to take a step back and consider how the actions we take here today will alter the course of history for all future presidencies."

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker

United States Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-11) speaks during the opening ceremony at the Healing Field at West Manheim Elementary School in Hanover on Friday, September 10, 2021.

Bio: Lloyd Smucker is a Lancaster County resident who owned and operated his own company for 25 yeas prior to running for Congress. He also served two terms in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Democrat Robert Hollister will compete against Smucker on the ballot this fall.

Actions: According to the Republican Accountability Project, Smucker objected to certification of electoral college votes, voted against the impeachment of conviction of Trump for Jan. 6 and has been "evasive" about the 2020 election.

In a York Daily Record op-ed, the congressman addressed his reasons for the objection, saying they were "not about fraud, but rather the unconstitutional measures taken by unelected bureaucrats and partisan justices" in the commonwealth." He said "Pennsylvania Democrats and media outlets are purposefully conflating claims of ‘fraud’ and claims that they abused their roles and mismanaged the election. They are not the same."

Smucker's office did not respond to messages seeking clarity on his view of whether Joe Biden was legitimately elected.

He's been critical of the House Jan. 6 Committee. On its anniversary he stated in a press release that the "narrative being perpetrated by the media is that anyone who harbors concerns about the integrity of our elections is someone who condoned or participated in committing the atrocious acts of violence last year. That is wrong and it is dangerous. The overwhelming majority of Republicans, I among them, were not complicit in violent actions taken on January 6th, despite the narrative the left and the media peddles."

U.S. Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson

U.S. Rep. Glenn "G.T." Thompson, of Howard Township, Centre County, R-5th Dist., speaks during a legislative luncheon at the Manufacturer & Business Association in Erie on Feb. 9, 2018. His district later was reconfigured as the 15th District and no longer included part of Erie County as the 5th District once did.

Bio: Glenn "GT" Thompson is a Centre County native who worked 28 years as a therapist, rehabilitation services manager and licensed nursing home administrator before being elected to Congress. He's a graduate of Penn State and Temple University. He's unopposed in November.

Actions: Thompson was among the Pennsylvania congressmen who objected to the certification of Pennsylvania electors after the 2020 race.

In addition to the elector certification objection, he's rated "very poor" by the Republican Accountability Project for voting against the impeachment or conviction of Trump in relation to Jan. 6, opposing the creation of a commission to investigate the riot and making "false and/or irresponsible public statements against democratic system."

In a recent endorsement letter, Thompson, Kelly, Smucker, Joyce, Meuser, Perry, and Reschenthaler were joined by retiring U.S. Rep. Fred Keller in urging Pennsylvanians to support Mastriano for governor.

Maddison Stone, Thompson's press secretary, said the congressman stands by his actions.

"In November 2020, he expressed his deep concerns with how the Commonwealth conducted the election. To date, the questions he raised have not been answered. From last-minute guidance on the eve of the election to the handling of rejected mail-in ballots, Congressman Thompson believes, without a doubt, there were conflicts and irregularities in the 2020 election, which is why he did not vote to certify the results. The citizens of the Commonwealth do not just expect free and fair elections, they deserve free and fair elections. Every legal vote should be counted and those responsible for upholding the law should be held accountable.”

Jim Bognet, candidate for U.S. House

Jim Bognet

Bio: A native of Hazleton, Jim Bognet graduated from Penn State University on a full academic scholarship and earned a law degree at UCLA. He was appointed to a senior position in the Trump Administration in 2017, tasked with expanding American manufacturing and supporting small businesses. Bognet faces U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democratic incumbent, in Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District.

Actions: Bognet has implied that the 2020 election results were illegitimate. "I will fight to require a strong voter-ID for all ballots, and audit the vote," he wrote as part of his website's elections platform. "No drop boxes, no non-signature verified mail-in ballots, and no more rigged elections!" This section has since been amended. His campaign did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Bruce Siwy is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network's Pennsylvania state capital bureau. He can be reached at bsiwy@gannett.com or on Twitter at @BruceSiwy.