Saturday, June 25, 2022
banner
Home /  World  /  Trump is front and center in Pennsylvania’s race for governor

Trump is front and center in Pennsylvania’s race for governor

Trump is front and center in Pennsylvania’s race for governor

tca/dpa
Philadelphia
Ahead of a Republican candidates’ forum in Lawrence County last week, organizers projected a recorded message from former President Donald Trump.
“I appreciate that western Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania is fighting so hard not only for the 2020 presidential theft and hoax but also for our country itself,” Trump told the room. “You’re great patriots! We will make America Great Again!” As more than a dozen Republican hopefuls run to be Pennsylvania’s next governor, Trump’s influence on the campaigns and the election is - like that six-minute video - taking center stage.
That was reinforced recently with the formal entry into the race of State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a conservative firebrand from Franklin County who has been among the most vocal proponents of Trump’s lie that the election was stolen.
While Mastriano and another longtime Trump backer, former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, have built campaigns in Trump’s image, others have hired former Trump staffers. And even those running along more traditional conservative lines have signaled they will aim to appeal to his “America First” base, which represents a sizable portion of Pennsylvania’s GOP primary electorate.
“You have a party that’s very much aligned with the Trump policies and the president,” said Pennsylvania GOP strategist Mike Barley, a consultant to another candidate, Delaware County businessman Dave White. “So I don’t think you’re gonna see much daylight between the nominee and support for those policies and the president.” Democrats, united behind their lone candidate, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, are dubbing the GOP field “The Trump Primary” in fundraising emails and messaging.
Still, it’s not yet clear how closely candidates will parrot the former president or seek his endorsement and support on the campaign trail. Many see Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s win in Virginia as a road map for how to flip the governor’s mansion in a swing state. Youngkin was endorsed by Trump but largely kept his distance from him in the general election.
And in Pennsylvania, the candidates are united against Gov. Tom Wolf, whom they’re seeking to replace. Their messages to voters in the opening events signal the race’s loudest refrain may be more against Wolf and his pandemic policies than pro-Trump.
Whether Trump endorses a gubernatorial candidate is also unclear. He endorsed Army veteran Sean Parnell in the GOP race for U.S. Senate only to have Parnell drop out after a bitter child custody battle was made public.
He’s had a relationship with Barletta, who lost badly despite winning Trump’s endorsement for Senate in 2018. Mastriano claimed last year that Trump asked him to run, but a day later Trump adviser Jason Miller tweeted that Trump had not endorsed in the race. Before he launched his bid, Philadelphia’s former US Attorney, Bill McSwain, sent Trump a letter seeking his support, which the former president later posted online.
Several Republican strategists said they doubt Trump will endorse a candidate for governor, though the former president is always unpredictable.
One thing most agree on: In a gubernatorial primary that currently has 14 candidates where voters may be looking for signals of whom to support, an endorsement could tip the scales. The field is one of the biggest in recent history and growing, with former Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai indicating he’s jumping in this weekend.
Northampton GOP chair Lee Snover cautioned that Trump’s endorsement could be a factor, but not the only one.
“A Trump endorsement has an impact, but I don’t think it’s exclusive,” Snover said. “The Republican Party is full of smart people. They vote for themselves.” Trump lost Pennsylvania in 2020 by one percentage point, a definitive defeat but not a blowout.

Pages