GOP blame game erupts in race for Pennsylvania governor


The Kulback County Party endorsed both former Rep. Lou Barletta and businessman Dave White.

If Mastriano captures the nomination, “the PA GOP should be held accountable for this cataclysmic disaster, to put it mildly,” agreed Val Biancaniello, a Pennsylvania-based Republican organizer and former Trump delegate who backs White.

She added that Tabas should step down, and that calls to do so are “among insiders, very widespread.”

Tabas’s allies were quick to defend him. “He shouldn’t quit. I support it,” said Rob Gleason, himself a former state party chairman.

Vonne Andring, senior adviser to the Republican Party, responded to a request for comment sent to Tabas by saying that “the Republican State Committee voted overwhelmingly not to approve – to give the candidates and their consultants all the chances of making their best case to voters.

Some Republicans fear the already seething complaints could escalate into a full-fledged battle within the party if Mastriano locks in the nomination on Tuesday.

“You’ve got the old Harry Truman quote: ‘The buck stops here,’” said a senior Republican state official, who was granted anonymity to discuss intraparty dynamics. “When you’re at the top and people can consider it a mess, it stops with you.”

Some prominent Republican individuals and donors in Pennsylvania are even considering publicly supporting Josh Shapiro, the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, if Mastriano wins the primary, multiple party sources told POLITICO.

Mastriano has risen steadily in the polls in recent weeks, jumping to the forefront of a group that includes Barletta — whom Trump endorsed for the Senate in 2018 — and former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain and White.

A new independent investigation by Susquehanna Polling and Research, a Pennsylvania-based Republican boutique, found the same thing. The poll found Mastriano at 29%, with 18% for McSwain and 15% for Barletta. The survey took place in the field from Thursday to Sunday.

Whoever wins Tuesday’s primary will face Shapiro, the state’s attorney general who faced no competition en route to his party’s nomination and has been hoarding money for the general election.

Mastriano, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this story, has already begun to defend the state party’s handling of the primary.

“This is the first time in 44 years that the state party has not endorsed a gubernatorial candidate,” he said in an interview with Newsmax Monday morning. “And really, we have an opportunity in Pennsylvania where people can vote without the influence of the state party apparatus. So hats off to the party leadership for actually taking this bold stance.

Last week, prominent Republicans in the state began rushing to sideline Mastriano as they tried to push candidates out of the race in an effort to shore up support around a single anti-Mastriano pick. Shapiro’s campaign also aimed to boost Mastriano’s chances of victory by airing TV ads that threw red meat on a MAGA base. Republicans who oppose Mastriano were alarmed, seeing it as further evidence pointing to the state senator as the easiest candidate to beat in the general election.

As some low-voting candidates agreed on the GOP field consolidation plan — state Senate chairman Jake Corman and former Rep. Melissa Hart both dropped out to endorse Barletta – none of the top contenders after Mastriano have moved, despite significant pressure to do so. .

This was especially true for McSwain, whose campaign repeatedly reaffirmed that he would stay in the race. Commonwealth Partners, an outside group that has flooded the airwaves with pro-McSwain ads, said Sunday that McSwain should drop out and the organization is moving its endorsement to Barletta. The New York Times also reported that Jeffrey Yass, a prominent Republican megadonor, directly asked McSwain to consider quitting last week.

But many Republicans felt the effort came much too late, even though some of the leading non-Mastriano candidates followed suit. These potential endorsements don’t “counter an endorsement from Donald Trump,” scolded a senior aide to one of the candidates, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.”

Several Republicans also pointed out that it was far too late to have the names of the candidates removed from the ballot. “Frankly, I think – strategically – the time for party leaders to try to force consensus is definitely not May 11-16,” said an aide to a second candidate.

It is unclear if the peloton will return to embrace Mastriano, should they win on Tuesday. Aides to several of the remaining candidates said they were unaware of any talk of a unity rally, which frequently happens after contentious primaries.

Mastriano’s impending victory also seriously challenges National Republicans’ investment in the state. In a CNN ‘State of the Union’ interview on Sunday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts declined to commit to committing Republican Governors Association resources to Pennsylvania if Mastriano becomes the nominee. .

“That candidate, whoever gets elected in Pennsylvania, will have to show they’re going to have a good run,” he said on the show. “And if it’s a good race, the Republican Governors Association will be there to support our Republican nominee.”

A Republican aide familiar with the committee’s plans, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about the decision-making process, said that while the RGA did not rule out in-state spending, “Mastriano gives us less reason to support the Republican in the state than other candidates would” because he would be a weak candidate in the general election.

This Republican was also skeptical that the latest efforts to stop Mastriano had a chance of success. “The only way it could really happen is if [the rest of the field] all dropped out yesterday and this morning there’s a $10 million ad buy,” the assistant joked.


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