Former President Trump is leaning strongly toward endorsing highly controversial Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano for governor, according to three sources familiar with his private deliberations.
Why it matters: Mastriano – who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – has gone beyond trying to help Trump overturn the 2020 election. He’s proposed defying Pennsylvania’s popular vote outcome and spoke at an event last month that promoted QAnon conspiracies.
What we’re watching: Democrats are salivating because they see him as beatable in a general election even in a political environment that’s extremely favorable to Republicans. Leading Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro even ran an ad highlighting Mastriano in the primary contest.
- With time running out before Tuesday’s primaries, Republicans are panicking about the prospect of such a polarizing candidate with limited appeal leading the ticket and are mounting a last-ditch effort to stop him, as Politico first reported.
- Others in the Republican gubernatorial contest include former Rep. Lou Barletta, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain and businessman Dave White.
Flashback: In the 2016 primary, then-candidate Trump won Pennsylvania after his more traditional Republican opponents split the remainder of the GOP vote.
Between the lines: Trump is worried about his endorsed Senate candidate Dr. Oz losing, according to two sources familiar with the situation, so his endorsement of Mastriano could be a way of hedging his bets on Tuesday.
- Republicans are also belatedly panicking over the previously unimaginable prospect that Kathy Barnette could win their party’s nomination for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania, as Axios reported.