Former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday endorsed Doug Mastriano, a retired colonel and state senator who has made countless false claims about the 2020 election and participated in the protests that led to the Capitol riots, in the Republican primary race for the Governor of Pennsylvania.
Mr Trump made his election three days before Tuesday’s state primary, a political boon that serves to boost the former president’s standing as much as Mr Mastriano’s.
“There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more for election integrity or fought harder,” Mr Trump said in a statement, adding that Mr Mastriano would also “fight violent crime, strengthen our borders, protect lives, defend ours among.” Second Amendment siege and help our military and vets.”
A Fox News poll released on Tuesday showed Mr Mastriano has a 12 percentage point lead over his closest key rival, former Representative Lou Barletta.
Since then, Mr. Barletta has tried to rally support from Republicans wary of nominating Mr. Mastriano. Two fellow candidates dropped out, supporting Mr. Barletta, as did several prominent former elected officials, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Mr. Trump, whose pick for governor of Nebraska lost a primary on Tuesday, is at risk of yet another blemish on his record in Pennsylvania’s Senate race. His choice, television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, has failed to put daylight between himself and a field of candidates.
Mr Mastriano has long been an outspoken supporter of Mr Trump. He used campaign money to organize buses to Washington on January 6, 2021, and last month he campaigned at an event promoting the outlandish QAnon conspiracy theory.
Pennsylvania Republicans not aligned with the Mastriano campaign have said he cannot win a general election against Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. Mr. Shapiro’s campaign recently began airing television advertisements apparently aimed at improving Mr. Mastriano’s standing among Republican primary voters.
In a statement following Saturday’s confirmation, Mr Barletta said: “Throughout this campaign, I have proven that I am the best Republican to unite the Republican Party and defeat Josh Shapiro, and I will continue to unite our grassroots conservatives with our common purpose.” .”
He added, “I look forward to receiving confirmation from President Trump on Wednesday morning.”