Josh Shapiro’s campaign in Pennsylvania has a message: Beware of Doug.

Josh Shapiro, the Democratic attorney general of Pennsylvania, is employing a familiar but risky tactic in that state’s governor’s race: He’s paying for a TV ad that appears intended to help one of his opponents in the Republican primary.

The opponent, a QAnon-linked retired military officer and state senator, Doug Mastriano, is leading the nine-person field by about 10 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls in the race. Mr. Mastriano’s rise has alarmed many Republicans in and outside the state.

Some Shapiro advisers had been toying with the ad maneuver for months, although the leadership of the campaign did not discuss the idea until it was clear that Mr. Mastriano was ahead. Mr. Shapiro is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Public polls have shown Mr. Shapiro faring better in a head-to-head matchup against Mr. Mastriano than against the other two leading candidates in the Republican primary, former Representative Lou Barletta and Bill McSwain, a former U.S. attorney.

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