Bill McSwain, the former prosecutor turned potential gubernatorial candidate, has attacked the “radical left” for “ignoring science by forcing children to wear masks in school.”
The Facebook ads paid for by Jeff Bartos’ Senate campaign feature an image intended to mock President Joe Biden’s call for a grassroots vaccine education campaign and urge supporters to “say NO to door-to-door”. -port Joe!
And candidate for governor Lou Barletta blasted Governor Tom Wolf’s appeal for the legislature to put masks on schools, saying, “Parents should decide what’s best for their children – not power-hungry politicians.” “
As governments, universities and private employers across the country impose new masking and vaccine requirements to contain the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, Republicans in Pennsylvania who are considering a nationwide office State push back what they call overbreadth.
Much of their posts focus on the potential negative impact restrictions can have on small businesses, as well as perceived violations of personal freedom.
Republican candidates for governor in New Jersey and Virginia this year are also campaigning against mask mandates, and GOP governors in Texas and Florida have sought to prevent local governments from imposing their own restrictions.
In Pennsylvania, the Democratic governor has a limited term and Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not seeking re-election. The two statewide races next year are expected to be very competitive.
The first campaign comes amid renewed debate over masking. Parents have held school board meetings in the Philadelphia area and across the country as the delta variant has sparked an increase in cases and local officials are debating whether to require students and staff to they wear face covers.
READ MORE: School board meetings get tense with debates over critical race theory and masking
Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have jumped 62% in the past two weeks in Pennsylvania, according to data compiled by the New York Times, and hospitalizations – mostly among unvaccinated people – are up 70%.
The number of shots administered to residents of Pennsylvania in August exceeded the July total, according to an Inquirer analysis. Scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illnesses caused by a disease that has killed more than 600,000 Americans.
Still, some Republicans are betting the electorate is fed up with the restrictions, in part highlighting voter approval of two May referendums nullifying Wolf’s emergency powers.
READ MORE: Pennsylvania Republicans target Tom Wolf, not Biden, as they seek to win 2022 governor’s race
A national USA Today-Ipsos survey Last week found that 66% of adults support state and local government mask requirements, and 62% support employers demanding that workers get vaccinated. And 69% of adults say school districts should be able to require students and staff to wear masks, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll this month.
Support for such restrictions is milder among Republicans, a majority of whom say states should be able to ban local governments from imposing masks, according to the Axios poll.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking in schools, regardless of vaccination status. Some experts have questioned the agency’s rationale, pointing to a CDC study in May, it was found that the requirement to wear masks among school students did not make a significant difference in the transmission of the virus.
Wolf, who demands that state employees who work in healthcare and assembly places get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests, said earlier this month he would not impose masks in schools. But last week, the governor called on the GOP-controlled legislature to pass a bill demanding such action. Republicans said it was best to leave the decision to individual districts.
READ MORE: Republican leaders reject Wolf’s call to pass school mask term
State Senator Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), one of former President Donald Trump’s main allies and a likely candidate for governor, has been promoting viral videos of people attacking him government officials for new terms, including one from a woman who told a school board her children won’t wear masks because “their brains need oxygen to develop.” (The researchers said that there is no evidence to support the idea that masks cause dangerous oxygen deprivation.)
Masstriano and some other Republicans also oppose vaccination mandates.
Mastriano voted for legislation – later opposed by Wolf – that would have prohibited a wide range of public and private entities from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Mastriano has disseminated a slew of false information about vaccines, including a video on Facebook this falsely says they cause autism and kill children.
McSwain, the former Philadelphia US attorney who is now considering running for governor, and Bartos, a Lower Merion real estate developer, both launched fundraising campaigns that took advantage of Biden’s push to increase immunization rates by bringing in volunteers and community leaders. knocking to inform people about the shots.
“We have to go to every community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and often go door to door – literally knocking on doors – to get help from” unvaccinated people, Biden said last month.
Shortly after, McSwain’s political committee, Freedom PA, launched a text message that read, “Joe Biden’s America: Go door to door and force yourself to get vaccinated.” What will you do if the Liberal mob kills your door? “
The message directed recipients to the CAP fundraising page on the WinRed digital platform.
The White House and public health officials say no one is required to be vaccinated at their doorstep. And grassroots efforts were already underway in Philadelphia and across the country. In the Philadelphia area, canvassers and public health officials say in-person outreach has helped reach low-income, non-white communities by answering people’s questions and dispelling misinformation.
READ MORE: Misinformation about knocking on the door on vaccines is spreading. But neighborhood awareness has worked around Philly.
Yet McSwain has portrayed the issue as one of personal freedom.
“If you want to get the vaccine, it’s available, it’s free, people can do it. Personally, I was vaccinated ”, McSwain said this month to The Dom Giordano program on 1210 WPHT. “But that doesn’t mean you have to block this decision in everyone’s throat. People have to do their own risk calculations on what is best for them and their families.
Bartos paid for Facebook ads showing an image of Biden standing in front of what looks like a front door, seen from the point of view of a person looking through a peephole. “Join Jeff Bartos and tell Joe to go away,” reads an ad, which links to a fundraising page.
Bartos said he was vaccinated, calling it “a good decision for me and my family”.
“When asked, I always recommend people to get vaccinated,” he said in a statement. “That said, we need to trust people to do what’s best for themselves and their families – and it’s certainly not the job of the federal government to mandate health decisions. “
Senate candidate Sean Parnell, an Army veteran who lives outside Pittsburgh, says he also opposes the vaccine and mask requirements.
“Our children have the right to breathe the open air”, he said Megyn Kelly told interviewer this month.
Overall, Democrats nationwide and in Pennsylvania have been more supportive of restrictions designed to curb the spread of COVID, meaning the problem could become a flashpoint in next year’s general election. . But the lines of division are still evolving.
Even Val Arkoosh – the chairwoman of the Montgomery County Council of Commissioners, open Senate candidate and doctor – has been content to encourage but not to force the wearing of masks by businesses in her county.
“We all need to come together here,” she said last week, “with a common cause to want to keep everyone alive, to keep our hospitals safe, not to further overburden everyone who works in our communities. health systems, and ensuring that our children can return to school in person.