HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania said Thursday he was ending his campaign and endorsing rival Lou Barletta, a move that comes as GOP leaders warn that leading contender Doug Mastriano is too right wing to win in a general election.
Jake Corman, the Pennsylvania state senator, announced his endorsement of Barletta at a press conference days before the state’s primary on Tuesday and amid resistance from establishment Republicans that a Mastriano’s victory would reduce their chances of overthrowing the governor’s mansion in November on the battlefield. State.
Corman’s name will remain on ballots statewide, and mail-in voting has been underway for weeks. It’s unclear what effect, if any, Corman’s decision to end his campaign will have on the race, as polls showed he was gaining little ground.
Mastriano has shown strength in recent polls, while also being a prominent peddler of conspiracy theories, including former President Donald Trump’s false claims that widespread fraud marred the 2020 election and resulted in his loss in Pennsylvania. Mastriano also launched a plan to overturn the election results, helping secure a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
For weeks, party officials behind the scenes have been urging candidates in what was originally a 10-deep field to stand down and coalesce around a candidate to help defeat Mastriano. One of them dropped out early in the race to remove his name from the ballots, but there are still eight candidates left.
Corman and Barletta declined to say why they think Mastriano can’t beat presumptive Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Barletta admitted on Thursday that there was very little difference in policy between him and Mastriano. He instead highlighted his experience winning elections as mayor of the small town of Hazleton and winning four terms in Congress.
Mastriano earlier this week said the Republican establishment “is in panic mode” over the prospect that he will be the party’s nominee. Meanwhile, two other remaining Republicans in the race, Bill McSwain and Dave White, have derided the Corman-Barletta alliance as one career politician endorsing another career politician.
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