GOP Blame Game Blows Up in Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Race

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

If Mastriano wins the nomination, “the Palestinian Authority Republican Party should be held accountable for this catastrophic disaster, to put it mildly,” agreed Val Biancaniello, a Pennsylvania-based Republican organizer and former Trump delegate who supports White.

He added that Tabas should resign, and that calls for him to do so are “widespread among insiders.”

Tabas’s allies rushed to his defense. “He shouldn’t quit. I support it,” said Rob Gleason, who was also chairman of the state party.

Vonne Andring, senior adviser to the GOP, responded to a request for comment sent to Tabas by saying that “the Republican State Committee voted overwhelmingly not to endorse, to give the candidates and their advisers every opportunity to present their best case to the voters. .”

Some Republicans fear the already bubbling grievances could erupt into a full-fledged intra-partisan battle if Mastriano secures the nomination on Tuesday.

“You’ve got the old Harry Truman quote: ‘The responsibility stops here,'” said a senior Republican official in the state, who was granted anonymity to discuss internal party dynamics. “When you’re at the top and what people may see as a disaster, it stops with you.”

Some prominent Pennsylvania Republicans and donors are even considering publicly endorsing Josh Shapiro, the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial candidate, if Mastriano wins the primary, multiple party sources told POLITICO.

Mastriano has been rising steadily in the polls in recent weeks, jumping to the front of a field that includes Barletta, whom Trump endorsed for the Senate in 2018, and former US Attorney Bill McSwain and White.

A new independent survey by Susquehanna Polling and Research, a Pennsylvania-based Republican outlet, found as much. The poll found Mastriano at 29 percent, with McSwain at 18 percent and Barletta at 15 percent. The survey was in the field from Thursday to Sunday.

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

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

“This is the first time in 44 years that the state party hasn’t endorsed a gubernatorial candidate,” he said in an interview with Newsmax Monday morning. “And truly, we have an opportunity in Pennsylvania where people can vote without the influence of the state party apparatus. So kudos to the party leaders for taking that bold stand.”

Last week, prominent Republicans in the state began fighting to defeat Mastriano by trying to knock candidates out of the race in an effort to consolidate support around a single anti-Mastriano option. Shapiro’s campaign also sought to boost Mastriano’s chances of winning by running television ads hurling red meat at a MAGA base. Republicans who oppose Mastriano were alarmed, seeing it as further evidence that the state senator was the easiest candidate to beat in the general election.

While some lower-poll candidates agreed to the plan to consolidate the GOP field (State Senate President Jake Corman and former Rep. Melissa Hart dropped out to endorse Barletta), none of the higher-poll candidates behind Mastriano moved, despite significant pressure to do so. .

That was especially true for McSwain, whose campaign has repeatedly reaffirmed that he will stay in the race. Commonwealth Partners, an outside group that has flooded the airwaves with pro-McSwain publicity, said Sunday that McSwain should step down and that the organization would switch its endorsement from him to Barletta. The New York Times also reported that Jeffrey Yass, a prominent Republican mega-donor, directly asked McSwain to consider leaving last week.

But many Republicans believed the effort came too late, even if some of the leading non-Mastriano candidates went along with it. Those potential endorsements don’t “counter Donald Trump’s endorsement,” complained a senior aide to one of the candidates, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.”

Several Republicans also noted that it was too late to remove the candidates’ names from the ballot. “Frankly, I think, strategically, the time for party leaders to try to force consensus is certainly not May 11-16,” said an aide to a second candidate.

It’s unclear if the field will embrace Mastriano again, should he win on Tuesday. Aides for several of the remaining candidates said they weren’t aware of any talk of a unity rally, which frequently occurs after contentious primaries.

Mastriano’s impending victory also puts national Republicans’ investment in the state in serious question. In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts refused to commit to dedicating Republican Governors Association resources to Pennsylvania should Mastriano emerge as a candidate.

“That candidate, whoever gets elected in Pennsylvania, is going to have to show that 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 candidate.”

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 would not rule out spending in the state, “Mastriano gives us less reason to support the Republican in the state than other candidates would” because he would be a weak candidate for the general election.

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

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