Trump approves Doug Mastrian as governor of Pennsylvania in the Republican primaries – The Morning Call

Donald Trump on Saturday backed Doug Mastrian in Republican primaries for governor of Pennsylvania, sided with a far-right candidate who was outside the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 uprising and worked hard to undo the 2020 presidential election.

Mastriana has already led a number of contenders, despite opposition to the party’s establishment, and the former president’s approval puts him in an even stronger position ahead of Tuesday’s primaries.

But there are growing fears among party leaders that Mastrian, a state senator and retired U.S. Army colonel, is too extreme to defeat Democrat Josh Shapiro in November’s general election and could lead to other Republicans fighting in the main state.

This includes a very competitive primary competition in the US Senate, in which Trump is trying to win his backed candidate, a cardiac surgeon who became Mehmet Oz’s television celebrity – against an opponent with whom Mastriana is campaigning, creating what could be an awkward situation. .

Mastriana has been on Trump’s radar, helping to spread baseless allegations by the former president and his associates that Democrats fraudulently stole the 2020 election for Joe Biden – something Trump took advantage of in his statement of support.

“There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more or fought more for the integrity of the election than Senator Doug Mastrian,” Trump wrote. “He has exposed fraud, corruption and outright theft in the 2020 presidential election and will do something about it.”

Trump called Mastrian “a fighter few others have been with me from the beginning, and now I have a duty to be with him.”

In addition to campaigning with key figures in Trump’s circle who spread lies about the last election, Mastriana also devised a plan that would allow state lawmakers to destroy the election results and make their own decisions about which candidate should get state votes.

As a result, he was summoned to the U.S. House of Representatives Commission to Investigate the Capitol Revolt on January 6, 2021.

In the case of election, Mastrian said he would take an extraordinary step to require voters to “re-register” to vote. “We will start all over again,” he said during a debate last month.

The move is prohibited by the National Voter Registration Act and likely faces significant protection from federal – and possibly state – constitutions and laws, constitutional law scholars say.

Trump was torn apart by the decision to approve the presidential race.

Some allies have desperately urged him not to race or support a rival from Mastrian, such as Lou Barlett, a former congressman who was Trump’s candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

As Mastriana heads the main field of nine people, party officials and conservative activists felt that votes for more elected candidates from the establishment were too fragmented to prevent him from consolidating far-right voters.

On Friday, Mastrian told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room online that the Republican establishment was “panicking, I mean, literally wetting itself” from the prospect of becoming a candidate.

At Saturday’s Philadelphia suburbs, Mastriana told the crowd that no one could overtake him even with the help of the party.

“Since the 45 came out with his support, they are finished, they are finished,” Mastriana said, using the nickname of Trump, the 45th president. Mastrian claimed that he was leading a “movement” that was “feared” by the left and “RINO,” or Republicans by name alone.

Mastriana largely avoided talking to independent news outlets, including The Associated Press, and did not allow reporters to attend his campaign events, including Saturdays, which were live.

Barletta has spent the last few days accumulating establishments, including from members of Congress. He avoided criticizing Mastian by name, other than trying to prove he was the most chosen candidate in the primaries.

On Saturday, he claimed he could still defeat Mastrian.

“I look forward to President Trump’s approval on Wednesday morning,” Barletta wrote.

Republicans, in particular, are worried that Mastriana is too toxic to win moderate voters in the densely populated suburbs of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in November. Critics fear he will jeopardize Republican candidates who do not vote in the election because of low voter turnout.

Republicans have been ousted as governor of Pennsylvania since 2014 under the leadership of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who has been barred from running again for a limited time.

Trump’s main focus in Pennsylvania was the primaries in the Senate, where his approved candidate, renowned cardiac surgeon Mehmet Oz, is considered vulnerable.

In many cases, ordinary Republican voters, conservative activists, and hardliners for Trump have refused to support Oz just because Trump is doing so.

Some allies have tried to persuade the former president that Mastrian’s support will hurt Oz because Mastrian worked closely and campaigned with one of Oz’s rivals, Katie Barnett.

But because Trump worries about Oz’s chances, Mastrian’s support is seen as a means to protect his ego, ensuring a likely victory if Oz loses.

On Saturday, Barnett spoke at Mastrian’s campaign. She and Mastriana repeatedly supported each other and campaigned together.

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“It looks like the former president is beginning to believe Barnett will win,” said Vince Galko, a Republican campaign strategist from Pennsylvania.

Mastriana, elected to the state Senate three years ago, first gained supporters by leading anti-closure rallies in the first months of the pandemic and then became one of Trump’s most loyal supporters during the 2020 campaign.

In online conversations with supporters after the election, he boasted that he had spoken to Trump at least 15 times while working with Trump to try to overturn the election results. He later arranged bus trips to the U.S. Capitol for Trump’s “Stop Theft” rally on Jan. 6, where he was spotted with footage of his wife passing through breached barricades set up by Capitol police.

Last May, he said on a radio show that Trump had “asked me” to run for governor.

For weeks after that, he tried to run a guerrilla “audit” of the 2020 Arizona-style election – only to be stripped of his chairmanship of the Republican Senate leadership in a dispute over its funding and hiring of contractors.


Associated Press writer Jill Colvin of New York contributed to this report.

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