Former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday endorsed Doug Mastriano, a retired colonel and state senator who spread myriad misrepresentations about the 2020 election and attended the protest leading to the Capitol Riot , in the Republican primary race for governor of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Trump made his choice three days before the state’s Tuesday primary, a political blessing that serves to boost the former president’s standing as much as that of Mr. Mastriano.
“There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more or fought harder for election integrity,” Mr. Trump said in a statement, adding that Mr. Mastriano will also “fight violent crime , strengthen our borders, protect life, defend our besiege the Second Amendment, and help our service members and veterans.
A Fox News poll released on Tuesday showed Mr. Mastriano had a 12 percentage point lead over his closest chief rival, former Rep. Lou Barletta.
Since then, Mr. Barletta has sought to win the support of Republicans who are reluctant to nominate Mr. Mastriano. Two other candidates withdrew and backed Mr. Barletta, as did a few prominent former lawmakers, including former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Trump, whose chosen candidate for governor of Nebraska lost a primary on Tuesday, may have another stain on his record in the race for the Pennsylvania Senate. His choice, TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, failed to put the light of day between him and a group of candidates.
Mr. Mastriano has long been a strong supporter of Mr. Trump. He used campaign money to organize buses to Washington on January 6, 2021, and last month campaigned at an event that promoted the outlandish QAnon conspiracy theory.
Pennsylvania Republicans unaligned with Mastriano’s campaign have said he cannot win a general election against Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. Mr. Shapiro’s campaign recently began airing television ads that appeared aimed at improving Mr. Mastriano’s standing among Republican primary voters.