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Capitol Hill Politics

Republicans split over Pennsylvania’s governor race

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Transatlantic Today) — As Pennsylvania Republican politicians prepare to nominate a governor candidate on Tuesday, several party insiders are worried about the likelihood of a primary win by a candidate who they believe is too far to the right to succeed statewide this fall. 

Doug Mastriano, a former United States Army colonel and state senator since 2019, had dominated polls despite spending a fraction of the funds spent by some of the remaining 8 Republican primary contenders. 

Mastriano recently received Donald Trump’s endorsement after assisting the former president in overturning his defeat in the presidential battle in 2020 and spreading Trump’s falsehoods that rampant election fraud cost him victory. Many party insiders advised Trump against endorsing Mastriano, thinking that he would struggle to win over the moderate supporters needed to win in Pennsylvania’s politically split state. 

Meanwhile, Democrats are rallying behind Josh Shapiro, the state’s 2-term attorney general. According to ABC NEWS, he is unopposed in the primary after winning the support of the state party and its major supporters, such as the AFL-CIO, and raising over $20 million since early 2021. 

Shapiro solidified his image by leading a historic grand jury probe into child sex abuse coverups within Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses and successfully defending Pennsylvania’s 2020 election outcome against Trump and his supporters in court. 

They’re competing for the chance to replace Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, who is serving his second term after taking office in 2015. The winner will almost certainly share authority with a Republican-controlled Legislature, which has had an entrenched GOP majority for 30 years. 

Mastriano has assured voters that he is not a extreme right candidate, and that his policies, which include lowering school property taxes, prohibiting abortion, extending gun rights, and removing mail-in voting, have widespread support. 

Rather, he claims that Democrats, namely President Joe Biden, are far-left revolutionaries determined to defeat him, and that the Republican “swamp” is working against him. Meanwhile, Shapiro’s campaign is airing a TV ad depicting Mastriano as a right-wing extremist and claiming that if Mastriano succeeds, “it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for.” 

Mastriano represents a largely Republican state Senate seat in Franklin County, which borders Maryland on the south. 

Despite the fact that two candidates — Melissa Hart and Jake Corman — have stopped their campaigns and backed former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in a final effort to defeat Mastriano, Republican electors will see 9 candidates on the ballot for governor. 

Former and current Republican legislators, including congress members, have given Barletta their support. 

Besides from Hart, Corman, Barletta, and Mastriano, the Republican candidates for governor include: Charlie Gerow, a marketing specialist and longtime conservative activist; Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner; Bill McSwain, a lawyer who served as the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Philadelphia; Nche Zama, a veteran heart surgeon who has directed units at different hospitals in Pennsylvania; and Dave White, who runs a successful plumbing and HVAC company and is a former Delaware County councilman.

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