Pennsylvania state Sen. Jake Corman is planning to endorse a rival candidate in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, six days before the May 17 primary.
A source told NBC10 on Wednesday that Corman will endorse fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta in hopes of pushing Barletta ahead of another Republican candidate, Doug Mastriano. Mastriano has been leading the crowded field of Republicans in recent polls.
Corman, who represents a district in central Pennsylvania that include State College, has failed to make a splash with Republican voters in a crowded field of candidates, which still includes eight other hopefuls.
The winner of the Republican primary will take on Democrat Josh Shapiro in the November general election. Shapiro, the state's attorney general, does not face any opponents in the Democratic primary.
A colleague of Corman's in the Pennsylvania Senate, Mastriano now is considered the frontrunner in the Republican primary for governor. Two recent polls, including one published this week, showed Mastriano leading the field.
His ascension to the top has left many Republican Party leaders across Pennsylvania fearful that his victory in the primary next week could prove a hollow one.
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Some Republicans have publicly stated that Mastriano could get "clobbered" by Shapiro in the general election because of Mastriano's far-right platform. He is a leader of the push to audit the 2020 presidential election results in Pennsylvania and was in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021 during the Capitol insurrection.
A poll by the Trafalgar Group released Monday showed Mastriano with 27.6% of Republican voters' support, followed by Barletta with 17.6%, White with 15.1% and McSwain with 14.4%. Of the 1,000 voters polled for that survey, only about 11% remained undecided.
Other candidates still in the Republican race for governor are Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, Lehigh Valley doctor Nche Zama, former U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart and political consultant Charlie Gerow.
On Monday, the state Senate’s Republican floor leader, Kim Ward, endorsed a rival candidate, Dave White, and singled out Mastriano as unable to attract the moderate voters necessary to win a general election in Pennsylvania.
Mastriano “has appeal to base Republicans, but I fear the Democrats will destroy him with swing voters,” Ward wrote on her personal Facebook page. She added that “winning the primary and losing the general because the candidate is unable to get the voters in the middle, isn’t a win.”