Former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday supported Doug Mastriano, a retired state colonel and senator who has promoted numerous false claims about the 2020 election and attended the protest that sparked the Capitol riot in the Republican primary for governor of the United States. Pennsylvania.
Mr. Trump made his choice three days before Tuesday’s state primary, a political boon that serves to boost the former president’s status as much as Mr Mastiano’s.
“There is no one in Pennsylvania who has done more, or fought harder, for the integrity of elections,” Mr Trump said in a statement, adding that Mr Mastriano would also “fight violent crime, strengthen our borders, protect our lives, undermine the Second Amendment and help our military and our vets.”
A Fox News poll released Tuesday showed Mr Mastriano has a 12 percentage point lead over his closest primary rival, former Representative Lou Barletta.
Since then, Mr. Barletta has tried to rally the support of Republicans wary of nominating Mr. Mastriano. Two fellow candidates backed out and backed Mr. Barletta, as well as some prominent former elected officials, including former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Mr. Trump, whose elected nominee for governor of Nebraska lost a primary on Tuesday, is at risk of another blemish on his track record in the Pennsylvania Senate race. His choice, the television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, has failed to create daylight between him and a field of candidates.
Mr. Mastriano has long been an outspoken supporter of Mr. Trump. He used campaign funds to organize buses to Washington on January 6, 2021 and campaigned last month at an event promoting the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory.
Pennsylvania Republicans who do not support the Mastriano campaign have said he cannot win a general election against Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. Mr. Shapiro’s campaign recently began airing television ads designed to elevate Mr. Mastriano’s position among Republican primary voters.
In a statement following the approval on Saturday, Mr. Barletta said: “During this campaign, I proved that I am the best Republican to unite the Republican Party and defeat Josh Shapiro, and I will continue to unite our grassroots conservatives to our shared purpose.”
He added: “I look forward to getting President Trump’s approval on Wednesday morning.”