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Trump endorses Mastriano in race for GOP governor of Pennsylvania

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Doug Mastriano during Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial primary, putting a last-minute stamp of approval on the far-right frontrunner who embraced his bogus claims that the election of 2020 was stolen from him.

“There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more or fought harder for electoral integrity than State Senator Doug Mastriano,” Trump said in a statement Saturday.

Trump’s backing comes just days before a Tuesday primary where Mastriano has solidified himself as the leading contender. Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general who isn’t opposed to his party’s gubernatorial primary, aired a TV ad seemingly designed to fortify Mastriano, who even many Republicans believe is their nominee the weakest in the general elections due to its extreme positions.

Several GOP leaders have called for the party to merge around a different candidate, former Rep. Lou Barletta.

Two Republicans — state Senate chairman Pro Tempore Jake Corman and former Rep. Melissa Hart — ended their gubernatorial campaigns this week and endorsed Barletta.

Barletta issued a statement shortly after Trump’s, promising to win the primary without his approval.

“Throughout this campaign, I have proven that I am the best Republican to unite the Republican Party and defeat Josh Shapiro, and I will continue to unite our grassroots conservatives toward our common goal,” Barletta said. “I will continue to tell the people that I am the only candidate who can unite the party and bring victory in November. I look forward to President Trump’s endorsement on Wednesday morning.”

Pennsylvania’s race to succeed term-limited Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is among the biggest in the country this year. The next governor has the power to appoint a secretary of state to oversee vote counting in what is a crucial presidential election battleground.

Mastriano is perhaps the most prominent Holocaust denier in the state in 2020, having led the charge to audit and undo President Joe Biden’s victory there.

He led a hearing in which Trump’s lawyers presented false allegations of voter fraud and pushed the Legislature to name a slate of alternate voters.

Mastriano was also outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to protest Biden’s victory – he said he left before the ensuing riot inside – and his campaign paid to transport the people in Washington for the rally that preceded the violence.

He was subpoenaed by the House committee on January 6 of this year for his efforts related to substitute voters.

MAGA favorite Mastriano’s endorsement helps relieve some of the pressure Trump is under in Pennsylvania for his support of Mehmet Oz, the famous TV doctor whom many die-hard conservatives dislike. the Senate primary.

As Trump and his allies watch his wins and losses closely, Mastriano’s endorsement could help improve Trump’s record as polls indicate Mastriano is the favorite to win, while Oz appears locked in a tie at three for the head.

In this primary, once seen as a battle between well-funded candidates Oz and former hedge fund executive Dave McCormick, the lesser-known Kathy Barnette surged late, sparking a wave of attacks against her. Mastriano works hand in hand with Barnette.

In his statement endorsing Mastriano on Saturday, Trump again bolstered his preferred Senate nominee.

“Doug Mastriano and Dr. Mehmet Oz will be an unbeatable team for the most important midterm election in our country’s history,” Trump said.

Marc Caputo contributed.

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