Pennsylvania’s Republican lawmakers are questioning former President Trump’s last-minute backing of State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) in the gubernatorial election. Many have remained loyal to former Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), who has defeated Democrats in local and congressional elections before.
On Saturday, Trump announced his support for Mastriano, whose statewide Republican Party officials are concerned that he will be a tough sell in the general election against Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic frontrunner.
Tom Marino, a former congressman, said “all indications” suggest that Barletta is the most likely candidate to defeat Shapiro in a general election and Trump’s support of Mastriano was “shameful.”
“I was shocked when Mr. Trump came out in support of Mr. Mastriano,” Marino continued. “… Where is the loyalty? We were the first members of Congress to endorse Trump in his campaign. We took a lot of flak for it,” he added.
“My leadership, our leadership, was informed when they learned we did this that our political careers were over. We made the correct decision there. I’m just very upset with our president…because it appears that his loyalty doesn’t extend as far as he claims it does. At the very least, a phone call to explain why he did what he did would be nice.”
Barletta is now attempting to persuade Republican candidates Dave White and Bill McSwain to withdraw from the gubernatorial primary and support him. This week, Barletta received backing from Melissa Hart and Jake Corman, who had previously dropped out of the race to back him.
Santorum is a former Pennsylvania senator who has thrown his support behind Barletta.
Pennsylvania GOP chairs told the Washington Examiner that they are also not happy with Donald Trump’s endorsement of Mastriano, and that they are concerned he will risk losing the election to Shapiro:
“Maybe Joe Biden isn’t the only septuagenarian who should take a competency test,” said one prominent county chairman, who requested anonymity but has hosted Trump in his county numerous times and cast his ballot for him twice.
In a head-to-head race with Shapiro, according to an Osage Research poll of 600 swing voters in Pennsylvania, Mastriano will lose.