HARRISBURG (KDKA) — The Republican race for governor is receiving unexpected attention as former President Trump intervened with some strong comments.
Washington County Republican Chairman Dave Ball has seen a lot in politics, but the latest in the Republican gubernatorial primary came as a surprise.
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“Personally, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ball told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Ball was referring to a highly unusual move by former President Trump, who attacked one of the nine GOP nominees for governor – his own appointed US Attorney in Philadelphia, Bill McSwain.
In a statement, Trump said: “One person in Pennsylvania that I will not support is Bill McSwain for governor. He was the US Attorney who did absolutely nothing about the massive electoral fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealwealth… Don’t vote for Bill McSwain, a coward who failed our country. He knew what was happening and let it go.”
McSwain would not appear on camera but would provide his own answer.
“I am proud of my record as a US Attorney. I have prosecuted and jailed voter fraudsters and jailed rioters and looters. When I’m governor, we will return to a voting system that everyone has faith in, and that begins with repealing the unconstitutional Bill 77 that Doug Mastriano voted for,” McSwain wrote.
“Now the president who injects himself by chasing one of the people who are in the running is certainly going to mess things up even further,” said Sam DeMarco, chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Party.
DeMarco sees five senior Republican candidates with monetary or grassroots support, including former US Rep. Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania Sen. Doug Mastriano, Delaware businessman Dave White, Pennsylvania Sen. Jake Corman, and McSwain.
McSwain, DeMarco says, gained traction with voters.
“He rose in the polls. Now that the president is suddenly taking action against him, it will be interesting to see how many of the people who supported him will be affected by the president’s disapproval,” DeMarco said.
Neither DeMarco nor Ball have any idea if Trump will back either of the others, but expect the unexpected from Trump in less than five weeks.
“I really don’t know why he’s so keen to get involved in Pennsylvania politics right now,” says Ball.
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Last weekend Trump endorsed Mehmet Oz for the US Senate. On Tuesday he attacked McSwain, a Republican nominee for governor, and then Trump encouraged Corman, who had decided to drop out of the gubernatorial race, to stay in it.
“In a phone conversation between him and me, he encouraged me to keep going. When you get encouragement like that, it tells you that maybe you should reconsider,” Corman told KDKA’s Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Trump’s call came just hours after Corman brought that motion to court to withdraw from the governor’s race.
Delano: “So you’re back in that race because President Trump asked you to stay in that race?”
Corman: “He encouraged me. We’ve been able to build a friendship over the past few months. I could play golf with him. It was much fun.”
“When he encouraged me and said, ‘Jake, you have to stay in the race. Fight on. Keep fighting for the people of Pennsylvania,'” Corman said.
Delano: “Has President Trump said he will support you?”
Corman: “No, he didn’t say that. I want to be very clear about that. He could one day support someone in this race. That will be a decision he will make.”
DeMarco says Trump’s endorsement could come in a crowded field of nine candidates, which in addition to the five listed above include former US Rep. Melissa Hart, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, Harrisburg political strategist Charlie Gerow and Dr. Nche Zama belong, make a difference.
Ball says that while Trump himself is popular, his support of Oz could weaken the value of future supports.
“You have to ask yourself why, and if that’s an odd affirmation, how much does the next one mean?” says Kugel. “He [Trump] is at the point of potentially losing political credibility on some of these things.”
No one can predict Trump’s next move, but the May 17 Republican primary is shaping up to be a good test of the former president’s influence over Republican voters in the state.
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WATCH: Jon Delano reports
https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/04/13/donald-trump-slams-bill-mcswain-pennsylvania-governor-endorsement/ Former President Trump splashes in Pennsylvania governor race, attacks one candidate and encourages another – CBS Pittsburgh