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Newest GOP Candidate in PA Gov. Race Highlights Chaotic Republican Primary Field Focused on Donald Trump’s Conspiracies

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With Charlie Gerow, a political hack and media personality, announcing he’s hopping into the Pennsylvania GOP primary for governor, the race is quickly unraveling into a crowded, chaotic contest that has already been defined by extreme, pro-Trump litmus tests.

Donald Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ about election fraud is front and center in the Republican primary for governor following Trump’s demands for legislators to conduct a sham audit of the 2020 Election similar to the one being carried out in Arizona — even though Pennsylvania already conducted two statewide election audits. Likely candidate Doug Mastriano recently made a “conspiracy theory tourism” trip to Arizona and a false letter he wrote to try to overturn the election showed up in new DOJ documents that were made public this week as part of a congressional investigation. Mastriano even made the absurd claim that the election last year was worse than elections in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When asked about the possibility of a sham audit in Pennsylvania, Gerow refused to denounce the ongoing efforts to overturn the 2020 election — amplifying the hold Donald Trump and his conspiracy theories have over the GOP candidates for governor. 

The rest of the field is just as caught up in the battle to take extreme positions. Lou Baretta, one of the first members of Congress to support Trump in 2016, still won’t admit Donald Trump lost the election and Joe Gale has already launched ads trying to out-Trump fellow Republicans and says he’s joining the race to “continue advancing the Trump movement.” Trump appointee Bill McSwain is staying silent as Trump pushes his dangerous lies about non-existent voter fraud – even though he didn’t prosecute a single case of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

As candidates fight to prove their loyalty to Trump, the base of the “super MAGA Trump” Pennsylvania GOP is flocking to the Trumpiest candidates in the field. In a straw poll conducted at the conservative Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, Mastriano and Barletta, the two candidates who have most loudly expressed their far-right views received over 60% of the vote. 

“Donald Trump has an iron-grip over the candidates in the Republican primary and his dangerous lies are driving the race,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Sam Newton. “While far-right extremism and conspiracies are typical for the Trumpified Pennsylvania GOP, they’re completely out-of-touch with Pennsylvanians. All Charlie Gerow’s announcement does is highlight how crowded and messy this primary will be — and no matter who wins they’ll be tied to unpopular and extreme policies.”