Pennsylvania governor race divides Republicans, unites Democrats

As Pennsylvania Republicans prepare to choose a gubernatorial candidate, some party officials are twisted by the possibility of a primary victory by a candidate many see as too much of a right to win statewide this fall

Doug Mastriano, a retired U.S. Army colonel and state senator since 2019, led the polls while spending a fraction of the money some of the other eight registered Republican primary candidates spent.

Democrats, meanwhile, are united behind two-term state attorney general Josh Shapiro. He is uncontested in the primary ballot after winning endorsements from the state party and key allies, including the AFL-CIO, and raising more than $20 million since the start of 2021.

They are vying for the right to succeed Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, whose term is constitutionally limited after he took office in 2015. The winner is likely to share power with a Republican-led legislature, where entrenched GOP majorities control floors for nearly all of the past three decades.

Mastriano insisted to his supporters that he was not a far-right candidate and that his platforms – including eliminating mail-in voting, expanding gun rights, l prohibiting abortion and abolishing school property taxes – have broad support.

Rather, he says Democrats — including President Joe Biden — are far-left radicals while the Republican “swamp” tries to defeat him. Shapiro’s campaign, meanwhile, is running a TV ad describing Mastriano as extreme and saying that if Mastriano wins, “it’s a victory for what Donald Trump stands for.”

Mastriano represents a strongly Republican senatorial district based in Franklin County, on Pennsylvania’s southern border with Maryland.

Republican voters will see nine names on the gubernatorial ballot, although two – Jake Corman and Melissa Hart – say they have ended their campaigns and endorsed former US Representative Lou Barletta in a final attempt to help defeat Mastriano.

Barletta has won a number of endorsements from current and former Republican office holders, including members of Congress.

Besides Mastriano, Barletta, Corman and Hart, also on the Republican ballot for governor are: Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner; Charlie Gerow, marketing consultant and longtime conservative activist; Bill McSwain, an attorney who was the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia; Dave White, who runs a large plumbing and HVAC company and is a former county councilor in Delaware; and Nche Zama, a retired heart surgeon who led units at various hospitals in Pennsylvania.


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