Just three days before the May 17 primary in Pennsylvania to decide the Republican candidate for governor, Donald Trump announced his endorsement of frontrunner Doug Mastriano, a far-right state senator who has backed the former president’s election claims and even attended the Jan. 6 rally outside the Capitol.
“There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more, or fought harder, for Election Integrity than State Senator Doug Mastriano,” Trump said in a statement. “He has revealed the Deceit, Corruption, and outright Theft of the 2020 Presidential Election, and will do something about it,” Trump said in a statement Saturday, adding that Mastriano “is a fighter like few others, and has been with me right from the beginning, and now I have an obligation to be with him.”
(Trump also reiterated his endorsement for Dr. Mehmet Oz, despite the MAGA fanbase’s displeasure with that reality TV candidate.)
And there it is. Three days until the primary, and Trump wades into #PAGov endorsing the frontrunner Mastriano — as PA GOPers have tried to unite behind anyone but him this week and DC GOPers know he’d be the weakest candidate vs. Shapiro pic.twitter.com/LPSOEpZ0WA
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) May 14, 2022
As a state senator, Mastriano was at the forefront of the futile attempt to overturn the election results in the state of Pennsylvania, where President Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes. Mastriano also tried to launch a statewide audit of the results, but failed.
Mastriano also previously supported far-right Republican candidate Teddy Daniels to serve as his lieutenant governor, even though Daniels’ wife has accused her husband of verbal abuse and threatening behavior.
Trump isn’t the only politician to throw their support behind Mastriano: According to Politico, presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro (he’s running unopposed) and the state’s Democratic Party funded television ads that backed Mastriano to GOP voters, as they viewed him as the weakest of the Republican candidates that Shapiro could face in the actual governors race later this year.
The ad touted that Mastriano would outlaw abortion and vote-by-mail in Pennsylvania — which Mastriano himself has promised — as well as trumpeted the candidate’s support of Trump’s 2020 election claims. While appealing to the MAGA base, the ad also aimed to turn off more centric Republican voters in the purple swing state.
“Senator Mastriano has appeal to base Republicans, but I fear the Democrats will destroy him with swing voters,” state Senate GOP floor leader Kim Ward wrote on Facebook earlier this week while announcing her support for Dan White, another PA GOP candidate (via CNN). “The goal isn’t to win the primary. Winning the primary and losing the general because the candidate is unable to get the votes in the middle isn’t a win. We need a candidate who can win in November.”
In recent weeks, the Pennsylvania GOP attempted to coalesce under an alternative, less extreme candidate to at least challenge the frontrunner Mastriano, but Trump’s endorsement will likely end that bid.