PENNSYLVANIA — College football fans weren’t the only ones cheering on their teams Monday night — here in the Keystone state, Donald Trump’s inner circle has lined up with several far-right candidates in the GOP PA-Gov primary. While Trump hasn’t yet endorsed in the messy GOP race, his former team is already taking the field.
It’s not only difficult to keep track of the many far-right candidates in the “Super MAGA” primary — it’s getting tough to keep up with all the Trumpian figures joining the race too. General Michael Flynn, Jenna Ellis, and Rudy Giuliani are all loyal members of Team Mastriano. Kellyanne Conway is a proud member of Team Corman. Bill Stepien, Tim Murtaugh, and, the newest addition to the roster, Congressman Ronny Jackson, are all in Team Barletta’s corner, and Team McSwain is led by a former staffer for Sen. Toomey and Trump operative James Fitzpatrick.
In the race-to-the-far-right, candidates are all-in on MAGA litmus tests, including championing the Big Lie, endorsing extreme and unpopular abortion bans, promoting a devastating anti-worker agenda, and refusing to support (even fundraising off their opposition to) historic investments in Pennsylvania communities — so it’s no surprise that former members of Trump’s team are involved.
“The over a dozen GOP candidates have already turned to throwing Hail Marys in a desperate attempt to prove their far-right bonafides — fighting over who’s the most committed to Trump, instead of focusing on the issues Pennsylvania families care the most about like lowering health care costs, growing the economy, and improving education,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Marisa Nahem. “With each new candidate who pledges allegiance to the MAGA agenda and every former Trump staffer who joins them, Pennsylvanians are recognizing the GOP race for what it really is: ‘The Trump Primary.’”
We’ve still got a long way to go in this wide-open GOP contest, and while Pennsylvanians look for leaders who will put them first, it’s clear they won’t find that within the crowded Republican field — they’re busy quarterbacking Trump’s failed playbook and even surrounding themselves with his former playcallers too. Check out some of the Trumpian heavy hitters who have already made their way to the Commonwealth:
Team Mastriano: General Michael Flynn, Jenna Ellis, and Rudy Giuliani
Doug Mastriano has long been a far-right firebrand, gaining national attention for leading the charge on behalf of Trump’s election conspiracies. Last spring, Mastriano made waves by claiming that Trump “asked” him to run for governor. Mastriano was making clear his connection to Trump’s orbit long before his official campaign announcement, including when he hosted a fundraiser for a potential run for statewide office alongside Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. When he did officially make his long awaited entry into the PA-Gov race, he did so with former Trump advisor General Michael Flynn’s support: “Doug Mastriano is exactly the kind of leader we need. We need warriors, we need fighters.” When he launched he also received the endorsement of longtime Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, who said, “Doug and Rebbie have my full support and he will make an excellent governor of Pennsylvania. It’s time to take back our country from the Democrats AND the RINOs.”
Team Corman: Kellyanne Conway
On January 6, 2022, Jake Corman began eagerly fundraising off the newest addition to his team, Kellyanne Conway. The following day, he made the official announcement, praising Conway who gained a reputation as one of Trump’s most loyal and committed confidants having run his first presidential campaign and served as one of the longest tenured senior leaders in his White House. In turn, Conway called Corman a “strong principled leader.”
Team Barletta: Bill Stepien, Tim Murtaugh, and Congressman Ronny Jackson
While Lou Barletta was one of Trump’s earliest supporters and most trusted allies in Congress, playing a central role in the Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania operation, he wasted little time in forging “another connection to Donald Trump.” Before even officially getting in the race, Barletta hired a consulting firm led by Trump’s former campaign manager and White House political director Bill Stepien. Team Barletta also includes the Trump campaign’s former communications director Tim Murtaugh — who has been quoted as both a senior advisor and a spokesperson for Barletta’s gubernatorial campaign. Today, Lou Barletta announced yet another Trumpian addition to his team with an endorsement from current Congressman and former White House physician and senior advisor Ronny Jackson. Jackson praised Barletta, saying, “Lou Barletta is the only candidate for governor of Pennsylvania who can unite conservatives and the Trump base.”
Team McSwain: James Fitzpatrick
Bill McSwain himself was once part of Trump’s team, appointed as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the former president. Now, McSwain is continuing to surround himself with fellow Trump allies. McSwain’s PA-Gov campaign manager, James Fitzpatrick, was the Pennsylvania Election Day Operations Director for the Trump Campaign where he was removed from an election office for being “irate” and “disruptive” in 2020.