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GOP Primary for PA Gov Becomes a Race to Embrace Trump As Lou Barletta Takes Step Towards Campaign

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The Pennsylvania GOP primary is getting even messier as more extreme candidates gear up to enter the race, with the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting that Lou Barletta is starting a new state-level PAC in the lead up to a likely gubernatorial campaign.  

Barletta is a major supporter of Trump’s harmful policies and dangerous conspiracy theories. Barletta was among the first members of Congress to support Trump in 2016 and Trump campaigned heavily for Barletta during his failed 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate. His entrance to the race would guarantee that the GOP primary would be a nasty battle to the far-right with unpopular, pro-Trump litmus tests. 

In fact, the Inquirer notes that “Barletta’s new PAC mirrors a step taken” by Trump appointee Bill McSwain, who is also eyeing a run for governor. McSwain is known for using his career in public office for his own personal gain, spending more than $75,000 in taxpayer dollars to plaster his face on billboards in a controversial ad campaign to also promote himself in TV and radio ads. McSwain also remained silent as Trump pushed election conspiracy theories and repeatedly tried to undermine the will of Pennsylvania voters.

In addition to Barletta and McSwain, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, who has already officially announced his candidacy, has already set the stage for dangerous extremism. In his announcement, Gale said he’s entering the race to “continue advancing the Trump movement” and “hold bad Republicans accountable.” Gale has already launched ads against other Republicans on conservative talk radio, trying to prove he is the most loyal to Trump.

“Trump may not be in the White House, but he still has an iron grip on the Republican Party in Pennsylvania,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Sam Newton. “Barletta’s likely run only guarantees that undying loyalty to Trump and his harmful policies will be even more of a prerequisite to win this primary. That’s very bad news for Pennsylvania Republicans – no matter who makes it out of this brutal GOP primary.”