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Republicans try to consolidate support behind Barletta for Pa. governor

The more moderate candidates are trying to coalesce around someone they see as more electable in the general election than hard-right candidate Doug Mastriano.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A crowded field of Republican gubernatorial candidates is thinning out. 

State Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) dropped out of the race on Thursday in support of fellow candidate Lou Barletta. 

On Friday, Melissa Hart followed suit.

The announcements come as some Republican Party leaders worry current frontrunner Doug Mastriano would lose the election for Pa. governor against Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro.

Shapiro is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket for governor.

Mastriano is polling at 25.7 percent, according to the latest RealClearPolitics poll, but some believe his far-right stance could weigh him down against Shapiro in a state that has 600,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

By coalescing around Barletta, a more moderate candidate that some see as more likely to be elected as governor, some Republicans hope to garner enough support to overcome Mastriano.

“I agree with Lou - the stakes are too high. Our Republican primary is too fractured,” Hart said at the May 13 press conference where she suspended her campaign. The event also attended by Barletta.

With just three days left before the primary, it’s unclear if Barletta can consolidate supporters of the former candidates.

“Names will still be on the ballot and it’s important for those supporters to realize where that candidate is now putting their support. Hopefully that will roll over to our race,” he said at the press conference.

Barletta’s support is at 15.3 percent, according to polls. 

Adding all the supporters of both Corman and Hart could garner him another 7 percent that they shared, which could make him competitive against Mastriano.

However, not all of the Republican candidates are jumping onboard. 

Bill McSwain, who is currently polling at 13 percent, and Dave White, currently polling at 11.3 percent, are both planning on staying in the race.

“I’m in it to the end because I believe I can win and again, I am a unique candidate,” McSwain said at a campaign event on May 13. “I’m unlike the other candidates. I’m unlike Lou Barletta. I’m not a career politician.”

“We’re getting thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of voters coming to our campaign. We’re going to continue that,” White said at his own campaign event on May 13. “They’re the voters that I want to be endorsed, those hard-working men and women that are across our state.”

Barletta said should Mastriano win the primary, he would endorse him. 

“I’m a team player,” Barletta said.

The Pennsylvania Primary Election is set for May 17, 2022.

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