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Two Lancaster County venues have canceled plans to screen a documentary supporting Doug Mastriano in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, citing backlash over the film’s “nationalist-populist agenda.”

Penn Cinema originally booked July 16 for the premiere of YouTuber Steve Turley’s documentary Return of the American Patriot: Rise of Pennsylvania, which features interviews with Mastriano and other conservative Christian figures in the state.

Mastriano, the Republican state senator and retired US Army colonel, won the Republican nomination in May and will face Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in November’s election to succeed two-year Democratic governor Tom Wolf.

“Patriotic alternative media and grassroots have risen up,” Turley says in the film’s trailer on YouTube. “The populist revolt that made 2016 a reality is entering the resistance phase.”

The planned screening at Penn Cinema was met with backlash from Lancaster Stands Up, a progressive organization backed by the PA Stands Up State PAC, which has chapters across the state.

Suzy Wurtz, a member of Lancaster Stands Up, contacted Penn Cinema last week to share safety concerns about the screening. she Posted the response of the theater on Twitter.

“We had plans with this group, but upon learning of the nationalist-populist agenda we canceled the event,” Penn Cinema, which is owned by Penn Ketchum, told Wurtz. “We also care about your safety and ALWAYS strive to put your safety and comfort first.”

Turley Talks, the organization run by the film’s producer, criticized Penn Ketchum for canceling the event “despite down payments” and threatened a breach of contract lawsuit. Turley Talks President Ralph Cochran called Back pressure against screening of ‘social media bullying pressure from angry anti-Christian activists’.

Mastriano was scheduled to appear at the screening, subject to approval from the venue’s owner and management, Cochran said. Other people interviewed in Turley’s documentary include Toni Shuppe, co-founder of Audit the Vote, and Tabitha Valleau, founder of FreePA.

In the days after Penn Cinema canceled the event, Turley Talks set up an alternative screening venue at the Wyndham Lancaster Resort and Convention Center. Turley announced on Facebook on Tuesday that the hotel “succumbed to (the) mob that woke up” and also canceled the screening.

“We have a backup location but will not announce this until 24 hours after the event,” Turley added.

Turley was contacted Monday afternoon and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mastriano’s campaign has mixed zealous allegiance to former President Donald Trump with a political platform based on the candidate’s conservative Christian views. In Pennsylvania, Mastriano was among the loudest voices falsely claiming that voter fraud caused Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Not only was Mastriano among the participants in the January 6 riot at the Capitol, but his campaign committed thousands of dollars to charter buses to Washington, DC that day.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mastriano has also been a relentless critic of Wolf’s public health policies, which Turley’s documentary describes as a series of efforts to eliminate liberties and fundamental rights in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Mastriano has backed legislation that would severely limit abortion rights in Pennsylvania, a realistic prospect after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade had picked up.

A group of Pennsylvania Republicans last week came together in support of Shapiro, calling Mastriano “an extremist” who threatens the rule of law and the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections. The group includes former US Rep. Charlie Dent, former State Representative Jim Greenwood, former State Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman, and former House Speaker Denny O’Brien, among others.

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released last month showed that Shapiro had a narrow four-point lead over Mastriano in the gubernatorial race, with a plus or minus 4.4 percentage point margin of error. Shapiro had the support of 44% of pollsters, compared to Mastriano’s 40%, with another 13% of voters undecided.

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