The chaotic GOP primary in Pennsylvania for Governor

Trump is very interested in the state. The governor, not the voters, chooses the secretary of state to run elections. This makes it one of the most important races in 2022.

The chaotic GOP primary in Pennsylvania for Governor

Last month, at a debate for Republicans running to become Pennsylvania's next Governor, candidates were asked if they believed that President Joe Biden won the state in 2020.

Most danced around with the question, acknowledging Biden as the current president, or praising ex-President Donald Trump. They also promised to tighten state election laws before 2024's next presidential election. Only one of eight hopefuls offered the correct answer to the question.

"No, Joe Biden, not the legitimate winner... " John Ventre, long-shot John Ventre, began. His words were immediately drowned out by cheers and whistles from the audience of western Pennsylvania.

This moment highlighted the dilemma Pennsylvania Republicans are in as they attempt to reclaim governor's mansion. It is a state in which Biden won narrowly, and Trump has made central his debunked claims that he stole the election.

There are a dozen candidates vying for the nomination. Many of them seek to strike a balance between conservative ideals, electability, and Trump's electoral lies and grievances. Trump is teasing a second run for the nomination in 2024. He has an interest in a state in which the governor, not the voters, chooses the secretary of state to oversee elections. Even if he does not endorse a candidate, he could be disruptive in the primary.

Trump stated that "Sometimes", in a video message sent to Pennsylvania Republicans before the debate, "the voter counter is more important than he candidate."

Interviews with candidates, strategists, and other close observers revealed a chaotic, tricky race. A plurality that caters to the pro-Trump side could result in a primary winner who appeals less the larger November electorate. In recent weeks, candidates have intensified their attacks upon one another. has for the first time in the 70s declined to endorse any candidate for governor. Democrats have already a presumptive nominee, Attorney General Josh Shapiro. He has a broad appeal and a national reputation, partly because he fought against Trump's election lies.

Melissa Hart, a former member in Congress, stated that the deep primary field is "double-edged" for Republicans. She is running for the nomination.

Hart stated that "In a sense, it will hurt the Republicans because we are less focused upon our nominee and advancing their nominee." It also delays the Democrats' chance to pick apart our nominee, while Josh Shapiro is being and will continue to be selected as their nominee."

Many of the top GOP candidates have cultivated credentials that are important to Trump.

Lou Barletta, a conservative on immigration, was named as an alternate elector as part of Trump's strategy to reverse the 2020 election. This was an illegal effort to send a complete slate of electors back to Congress to prevent Biden's win. The Legislature's election investigation is being overseen by Jake Corman, the State Senate President Pro Tempore. Bill McSwain was the Trump administration's U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia. He has asked for Trump's endorsement by raising vague accusations about voter fraud. State Sen. Doug Mastriano was also present at the U.S. Capitol when a pro Trump mob ran it last year and was subpoenaed recently by the House investigation committee.

Corman stated that "we need to do all we can to restore confidence in our elections," adding, "If our elections are not faith-based, we have no hope."

The survey by the Trafalgar Group this month found Barletta at the front with 24 percent support. Mastriano was close behind with around 20 percent. 27% of respondents said they supported another candidate, and 29% were undecided.

Some in the GOP establishment are worried about Mastriano's rise.

"There is a feeling among the candidates, donors and a lot people in the party Mastriano has an image that sells in primary but doesn't work in general election," stated Vince Galko of Pennsylvania GOP strategist. He was neutral in primary. "So, there's the fear that everyone is going to split their vote and Mastriano will win this thing with 24 per cent of the vote.

Teddy Daniels, a GOP candidate to be lieutenant governor and aligned with Mastriano agreed that it is easier for him win if there are packed primaries.

Daniels said that the party was split and he, along with Mastriano, was standing outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021. "In Pennsylvania you have your swampy establishment and pre-Trump-type politicians. Then you have post Trump. It's what I call the "America First" movement. Doug is the only one in this lane.

Barletta advisor Tim Murtaugh stated that his candidate's popularity as a former member and unsuccessful Senate candidate makes him the front-runner. He said that the state's high-voltage Senate race in 2022 will likely be a distraction on the airwaves and attract more attention from voters.

Murtaugh, who was Trump's communications director, stated that "And with the forest TV ads being run in Pennsylvania by Senate candidates, it's unlikely that any candidate to governor will be able make an impact just by placing up a few trees" on TV. They won't be in a position to catch Barletta, no matter how much money they spend.

Mastriano loudly repeats Trump's lies about Pennsylvania's 2020 results. However, the candidates here spend a lot of time on issues not related to relitigating Trump's loss. Daniels even said that "the election thing" is only one part of the pie.

This is consistent with national polling. This month, a Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 50% of GOP voters have stopped talking about 2020 and 37% want to continue the discussion.

Some candidates and state Republicans believed that certain issues were more important than others to win, such as education and jobs. Tom Wolf's Covid policies.

Hart stated that he was focusing on schools and other issues to appeal to suburbanites who voted for Biden 2020. He also pointed to the election of Republican Governor last year. Glenn Youngkin, Virginia as a roadmap to victory this autumn

"How can we bring them back?" Hart asked. Hart was curious.

Lou Capozzi is the chair of the Cumberland County GOP. He stated that Wolf's pandemic policies will drive the primary vote.

He said, "I believe most people are looking forward to this point."

Republican candidates for governor often address election issues in the context Act 77. This package of voting changes was passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2019. After Trump's win, the bill expanded mail-in voting. This practice became a major target for 2020 election deniers. Wolf appealed the recent ruling that declared the law unconstitutional. GOP leaders, including those who supported Act 77 in the past, have called for its repeal. Mastriano and Corman were among the state senators who voted for it, but they have since criticised the law.

In an interview last month, Shapiro said that his Republican rivals had "lied repeatedly" to Pennsylvanians.

He said, "Each one of those running against me has demonstrated a profound personal vulnerability." They have spines like spaghetti and are showing they prefer to promote big lies than truth.

Trump could shake up this race by pledging his endorsement. However, those who are invested in the race spoke to NBC News and said that they don't believe he will do so at the moment. Many pointed out how Parnell's endorsement of Sean Parnell in the GOP Senate primary was canceled after Parnell lost custody battle for his children following allegations of abuse from his ex-wife. Others suggested that Trump wouldn't support either Barletta or Mastriano because they are both loyal supporters.

Capozzi stated that he doesn't believe he will endorse because a lot these candidates have ties with him in some way. "I believe he gave an endorsement to Sean Parnell for Senate race. I don't think it worked out very well for him. He's going to keep his powder dry, I believe.

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