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The Pennsylvania GOP is panicking over possible Mastriano nomination

DeMarco, the leader of one of the largest county parties in the state and the chairman of the Southwest Caucus, confirmed that he is “participating in these discussions.” Tuesday he has tweeted a poll shows Mastriano fighting the supposed Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro, announcing that he is personally emphasizing one of Mastriano’s main opponents, businessman Dave White, who he said is “of his own free will.”

“There is so much that worries me about this,” DeMarco told POLITICO, stressing that he did not speak for the group. “We are in a year where all the evidence points to a red tsunami. And it looks like here in Pennsylvania, because of the number of people in the race and his smaller but consistent support, we can nominate the only Republican who would be eligible for election in November. “

A spokesman for Mastriano did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The prospect that Mastriano – who was present at the Capitol during the January 6 uprising – could carry the GOP ticket has increasingly alarmed Republicans, both in Pennsylvania and nationally. (Mastriano has said he left before the riot took place.) They worry the party may lower its chances in November by choosing a polarizing candidate with limited appeal, which could also be a drag on the Republican ticket in the , which is otherwise taking shape. as a favorable election year.

Reilly has talked to governor campaigns about conducting a poll to determine who is in second place behind Mastriano and asked if the candidates would unite behind that person, according to two people familiar with the talks.

In a statement to POLITICO, Reilly said: “As a National Committee, I have spoken regularly with almost all governor campaigns in the past. [three] months. Last week when it was supposed to [Democratic] The nominee Josh Shapiro and the State Democratic Party used campaign resources to help Doug Mastriano’s candidacy in the Republican primary, prompting concern among the campaigns. These concerns have led to discussions among the campaigns in which I have occasionally been involved. “

Shapiro, the state’s attorney, began running a TV commercial last week that could have been cut by Mastriano himself, except for the tagline at the very end. The place throws red meat at MAGA’s primary voters, while also highlighting positions that Democrats hope would reject parliamentary election voters. It was a sign that Democrats consider Mastriano the weakest potential opponent this fall.

Reilly added that since “the state party voted not to support a candidate, any decision a campaign makes to support another candidate, suspend their campaign or remain in the race is completely the decision of that campaign.”

It is unclear whether the Republicans’ attempt to rally behind anyone other than Mastriano will succeed. Some in the party expressed skepticism that it would work, and rejected the effort as too little, too late. But others said it was possible it could lead to one or two candidates dropping out, potentially making it easier to defeat Mastriano.

“Bill McSwain will be in the race,” said McSwain’s communications director Rachel Tripp. “He is fully dedicated to continuing with his full list of campaign activities and looks forward to the victory on Tuesday.”

Mastriano has been a frontrunner in recent polls.

Asked if Republicans are concerned about questions about Mastriano’s eligibility, Josh Novotney, a former Senate campaign finance director, replied. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Said, “You can quote me about this: To hell, yes.”

“Everyone I know is concerned about his eligibility,” continued Novotney, who has not been involved in discussions about uniting behind a candidate. “I think if Josh Shapiro were to wave a wand and pick his opponent, he would definitely pick Mastriano.”

Mastriano himself has mostly been absent from the airwaves. Republicans have spent a total of $ 22 million on TV and radio commercials on the governor’s race so far, according to data from ad tracking company AdImpact. Nearly half of that money has been used by former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain’s campaign and a group that supports him, the Commonwealth Leaders Fund.

However, Mastriano accounts for less than $ 300,000 of it.

Nor did the Republican Governors’ Association include Pennsylvania in its announcement of early media bookings across the top battlefields. (There is no contribution limit in the state, so the committee could potentially rush with any nominated money, which can typically buy ads at a lower price). March – the first an open GOP seat and the last four all with democratic rulers – and has already spent on defending Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp, who faces a primary challenge.

“I think there is a significant level of concern that Mastriano, of all the primary candidates, will have the hardest time overall, just because of the level of his conservative views and policies,” Mike Conallen said. a Pennsylvania-based GOP strategist and former chief of staff to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). “There was general consensus that even though he was most likely to win the primary, he would have the toughest time in the general.”

In contrast, Shapiro has had a slippery slope to the Democratic nomination. He did not face any primary opposition and has amassed a formidable war post for the parliamentary elections in the perennial swing state.

Meanwhile, the GOP’s crowded, messy competition has at times been overshadowed by the party’s open primary election in the Senate. Along with Mastriano, White and McSwain, a handful of other Republicans are among the top candidates vying for the nomination, including the former rep. Lou Barletta.

Jake Corman, state Senate President Pro Tempore, who quarreled with Mastriano over control of a 2020 election review, applied to withdraw from the race in mid-April. But he abruptly turned the course the same day after saying he spoke to former President Donald Trump, who urged him to stay in the race.

Public polls have been rare, but a Fox News poll published Tuesday night showed Mastriano with a big lead in a crowded field. The poll put him at 29 percent – an 11-point gain from the outlet survey in March – compared to 17 percent for Barletta, 13 percent for McSwain and 11 percent for White. Every other candidate was on single digits.

In the days before Trump’s demonstration last week for Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, there was hope among some state Republicans that the former president would finally get involved in the governor’s race – and support a candidate other than Mastriano. When that did not happen Friday night, a Republican operator working on the gubernatorial election described “the alarm bells are ringing” among the state’s GOP.

“I think people wanted to [Mastriano‚Äôs rise] gone for a long time and it has become real. “Everyone hoped in a way that Trump would step in at the demonstration last week, and he did not,” said the officer. “I got text messages from people waiting to see what he would say, and he did not mention the governor’s race at all. They said it’s a step below in supporting Mastriano because by not saying anything, you say a lot. “

State Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, who supported White, wrote about her concerns about the governor’s race in a Facebook post Monday.

“The goal is not to win the primary. To win the primary and lose the general because the candidate is unable to get the voters in the middle is not a victory. We need a candidate who can win in November,” Ward wrote.

Mastriano is among the most prominent right-wing candidates running for a state-wide office this year. In addition to his well-documented denial of election, he has ties to QAnon conspiracy theorists, who recently appeared at an event called “The Patriots Arise for God and Country.”

When Mastriano was asked about appearing on a podcast for a local “center-right” -oriented sale, he went on a tirade about reporting in The Philadelphia Inquirer and attacked the podcast hosts.

“‘You went to a conference in Gettysburg with people I do not like politically.’ Really? How stupid, “he said, demanding that the hosts prove that the conference had a QAnon connection. He abruptly ended his interview after being asked about his allegations that the election had been stolen.

Still, Mastriano’s views have given him significant support among an agitated group of Republican voters. And some wonder if he can be expelled from the top of the field.

Republicans are largely offensive this cycle in gubernatorial races, with Democrats defending battlefield states, including Pennsylvania, Kansas, Nevada, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Shapiro’s ad, which appears to boost Mastriano, is an echo of Trump’s own progress through the Republican Party in 2016, with leading Democrats cheering on the prospect of Trump’s candidacy, believing he was the easiest person to beat in the general election.

“If Mastriano wins, it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for,” the ad says, before adding a pre-proof warning of “is that what we want in Pennsylvania?”

“We got Josh Shapiro to publish an ad about me that condemned me because I’m very Trump-like. Thank you so much for that ad. This is going to be a huge red wave in November,” Mastriano told Steve Bannon on his show Monday.

“The Josh Shapiro ad was the best pro-Mastriano ad in the campaign,” Bannon replied.

Meridith McGraw contributed to this report.

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