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New super PAC targeting anti-LGBTQ candidates sets sights on Mastriano as first target

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A new super political-action committee looking to defeat anti-LGBTQ candidates nationwide is making Republican Pennsylvania governor hopeful Doug Mastriano its first target.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, the board chairperson of Agenda PAC, pointed to Mastriano’s record opposing gay rights, such as same-sex marriage; transgender rights and abortion.

“When you look at how outside of the mainstream, how unhinged Doug Mastriano is, we knew that this was going to be a race that we had to start with,” said Kenyatta, the first openly gay Black member of the state Legislature, in an interview with PennLive.

Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County, is running for governor against Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Mastriano’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it has ignored mainstream media outlets throughout the race.

Kenyatta, who unsuccessfully sought the U.S. Senate Democratic nomination earlier this year, said polling repeatedly shows that most Pennsylvanians do not share Mastriano’s “crazy views” limiting LGBTQ rights.

“People don’t want to go back to that place,” Kenyatta said, “but, you know what, if Doug Mastriano becomes governor, he has an incredible amount of power just in terms of what he can do from an executive perspective and he’s going to have a willing Legislature that’s going to back him up.”

Pa. Democratic debate for U.S. Senate

Pa. state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, shown here during a U.S. Senate Democratic primary debate in April, is the board chairperson of Agenda PAC, a new super political-action committee dedicated to opposing anti-LGBTQ+ candidates.
Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

Agenda PAC has raised into the six figures so far, Kenyatta said, and will start with digital ads, but isn’t ruling out TV. “We’re rolling this out one step at a time,” he said.

Kenyatta said that LGBTQ political consultant Ted Bordelon, who founded Agenda PAC and is the executive director, asked him to join the effort.

Other Agenda PAC members include Joe Trippi, a political strategist; Democratic pollster Celinda Lake; state Sen. Shevrin Jones, the first gay person elected to the Florida Legislature; state Sen. Megan Hunt, the first openly LGBTQ person elected to Nebraska’s legislature; and state Rep. Josh Boschee, the first only LGBTQ member of the North Dakota Legislature.

The idea for the PAC was borne out of the recent Dobbs legal case decision by the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court that overturned federal abortion rights in Roe v. Wade.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said that the court should also revisit its ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, setting off a flurry of efforts by conservatives to push for anti-LGBTQ legislation at the state level.

“Dobbs was not the end of the road. Dobbs was the beginning of an aggressive approach by these more-and-more radical politicians to turn the clock back that is out of step with this country’s history,” Kenyatta said, “and we have a responsibility as people who live in this country to defend its freedom and make it work for everybody.”

Other possible targets include anti-LGBTQ U.S. House candidates in Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, California and New Mexico, Agenda PAC said in a press release.

Besides going after those candidates deemed anti-LGBTQ, Agenda PAC said it will also defend “vulnerable” pro-LGBTQ candidates.