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Former President Trump backed Republican Doug Mastriano for Pennsylvania governor just three days before the primary election, citing Mastriano’s efforts to go after the “stealing” of the 2020 election.
Mastriano, a state senator and retired U.S. Army colonel, was already leading the GOP candidate pool, and Trump’s endorsement is expected to solidify his advantage over former GOP Rep. Lou Barletta, the former prosecutor federal Bill McSwain and businessman Dave White in Tuesday’s GOP primary. .
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Trump endorsed Barletta for the 2018 Senate race where he lost to Democratic Senator Bob Casey.
“There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more or fought harder for electoral integrity than State Senator Doug Mastriano,” Trump said in his endorsement statement on Saturday. “He exposed the deception, corruption and outright theft of the 2020 presidential election, and will do something about it.”
Mastriano launched a plan to undo Trump’s 2020 loss to current President Biden, and was in the United States Capitol when it was stormed on January 6, 2021 by right-wing extremists aiming to disrupt Congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Some GOP leaders in Pennsylvania have raised concerns that Mastriano is too right-wing to win the general election, including his peddling of unsubstantiated allegations that widespread fraud has marred the 2020 election. Mastriano said earlier this week that the Republican establishment “was in panic mode” over the prospect of him winning the GOP nomination on Tuesday.
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Trump also recently endorsed Pennsylvania’s shaky Senate race, backing former TV doctor Mehmet Oz over veteran political commentator Kathy Barnette and hedge fund CEO David McCormick, whose wife, Dina Powell, served in the Trump administration.
Barnette surged in the final days of the campaign and winning Oz is far from a sure thing. Trump fears Oz will lose, so his endorsement of Mastriano could be a way to hedge his bets on Tuesday, Axios reported.
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A Fox News poll released Tuesday found Mastriano was on course for victory on Tuesday. He broke away from the pack and now leads with 29% support. The next tier includes Barletta at 17%, McSwain at 13% and White at 11%.
The GOP winner would face presumptive Democratic nominee State Attorney General Josh Shapiro in November.
Paul Steinhauser and Dana Blanton of Fox News contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.