(WHTM) — With the May 17 Pennsylvania primary election just three weeks away, four Republican primary candidates vying for the open governor seat in Pennsylvania will participate in an exclusive multi-market prime time debate Wednesday, April 27, at 8 p.m.
All candidates on the ballot who met eligibility criteria were invited to participate. Candidates who have committed to attend includes: Lou Barletta, Doug Mastriano, Bill McSwain, and Dave White.
Candidates who received at least 5% in either the March or April Nexstar/Emerson College Polling/The Hill polls were invited to attend.
The candidates will be asked for their views on the infrastructure, the economy, foreign policy, and other important topics impacting Pennsylvania.
Ahead of the debate, catch up on each candidate that will participate on Wednesday night, below:
In the race for the nomination, the former congressman has seen his name towards the top of the leader board in recently published polls. In the WHTM/Emerson College Polling/The Hill Pennsylvania primary poll of 1,000 very likely Republican voters, Barletta led the party with 19.8%.
When undecided voters were asked who they were leaning towards in the same poll, Barletta’s percentage increased to 26.2%.
“Barletta holds the plurality of support among suburban (28%) and urban (24%) voters, while Mastriano leads Barletta among rural voters 30% to 25%.” Kimball continued. “Barletta also leads all age groups except those aged 50-64, where Mastriano holds 29% of this age blocks’ support.”
In a more recent poll from The Tragalgar Group, which interviewed 1,074 likely Republican primary voters, candidate Mastriano took the lead, but Barletta was a close second with 18.8%.
Barletta recently visited WTAJ to talk about his campaign where he noted that it is his name recognition that has helped carry him near the top of the race.
But, one question that many are still waiting for the answer to, including Barletta, is: who will former President Trump endorse? Barletta said on WTAJ, “President Trump’s endorsement plays a big role in the election and who can win the primary.” With that in mind, he says he will wait and see what Trump decides to do.
“I know President Trump well enough to not speak for him or what he will or won’t do. That’s totally his call. We are just going to do the best we can to try and win this because it’s very important that we beat Josh Shapiro in November,” Barletta said.
On his campaign website, Barletta says, if he is elected, he will “undo the economic damage caused by Governor Tom Wolf’s disastrous response to the coronavirus epidemic.” Plus, he says he will “be a champion” of the production of coal, oil, and natural gas; will take action to restore public trust in election security; and will continue to push for high-quality public schools, school choice, and greater involvement by parents and teachers.
Since the State Senator announced his candidacy in January 2022 at a rally in Gettysburg, he has been neck-and-neck with Barletta in the polls. In the WHTM/Emerson College Polling/The Hill Pennsylvania primary poll, Mastriano finished in a close second behind Barletta with 19.4% of the voters’ support. With the undecided voters taken into account, Mastriano’s percentage increased to 22%.
In The Trafalgar Group poll, Mastriano took the lead over Barletta, receiving 21.9% support.
Even before the campaign trail began, Mastriano has been a public and active supporter of Trump, which, as he shared with abc27’s Dennis Owens, he hopes will make him a winner in the May primary. Mastriano has also been in the media for ties to what went down at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, including his sponsorship of buses being sent to the Capitol.
In February, Mastriano filed an updated campaign finance statement revealing that, at the time, he has almost twice as much campaign cash as he initially reported. Three weeks after the deadline in state law, Mastriano reported that he had slightly over $1 million in his campaign account heading into 2022 rather than the $550,000 he first reported.
According to Q1 financial filings, Mastriano received the least contributions in the first three months of 2022 out of the four in Wednesday night’s debate. He received $372,554.80. However, his cash on hand was filed at 1,091,369.64.
On his campaign website, Mastriano says, if elected, he will eliminate “all pandemic executive orders and edicts” from the Wolf Administration, place an immediate ban on government and school mask mandates, and put an immediate ban on all COVID-19 mandates.
Outside of COVID-19 policies, Mastriano says he will also work to restore election integrity by ending all contracts with compromised voting machine companies and by appointing a Secretary of State with experience in securing elections from fraud.
He might not be leading in the polls, but, according to Q1 financial filings, the former businessman leads the Republican party with the most funds raised since the start of 2022 with $1.7 million.
However, according to the report, he has spent a significant portion of the money with only $171,000 remaining on hands. White’s own financial records show that he has spent $3.5 million on television ads and $151,729 on digital media campaigns.
White has also raised $588,800 in political committee donations over $250, the most among the Republican candidates. He’s loaned the campaign $4 million since Sept. 2021, including $1 million in March 2022.
In the WHTM/Emerson College Polling/The Hill Pennsylvania primary poll, White came in third to Barletta and Mastriano with 11.6% of voters’ support. When undecided voters were taken into account, he remained in third with 12%.
In the Tragalgar Group poll, White dropped below McSwain but his percentage of support increased to 17.4%.
On his campaign website, White says, if he is elected, he will “defend Pennsylvania’s values” by supporting pro-life causes, protecting Second Amendment Rights, working to put Pennsylvanians back to work, and unleashing Pennsylvania’s energy.
Rounding out the top four, the former United States Attorney received 7.9% of voter’s support in the WHTM/Emerson College Polling/The Hill Pennsylvania primary poll. With undecided voters taken into account, McSwain’s percentage increased to 12%.
McSwain jumped to third in the Tragalgar Group poll, moving ahead of White, with 17.4%.
Since the start of his campaign, McSwain has been endorsed by York County Republican Chairman Jeff Piccola and former Senate candidate Sean Parnell. However, while Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate, he did release a statement slamming McSwain in early April.
Trump complained the former federal prosecutor did “absolutely nothing” to investigate Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud after Democrat Joe Biden won the state in 2020. McSwain, who spent nearly three years as the top federal prosecutor in Philadelphia under Trump, has often touted the connection as he campaigns for the GOP nod in a crowded primary field.
However, Trump turned on him, saying, “One person in Pennsylvania who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for Governor.” He then went on in the statement to call McSwain a coward.
In the first three months of 2022, McSwain received the second most in the Q1 contributions with $1,433,188.05. His cash on hand was filed at $1,699.534.62.
One promise McSwain has made on the campaign trail is to be a pro-energy governor by “turning on the spigot of natural gas.” He has also discussed, similar to the other candidates in the field, stripping down unnecessary regulations or speeding up permitting times in the gas industry.
On his campaign website, McSwain says, if he wins, that he will bring back law and order, create jobs, lower taxes, put a stop to “out-of-control” spending in Harrisburg, keep Critical Race Theory out of Pennsylvania schools and “restore faith in our elections.”
The candidates will debate for one hour, which will both air and live-stream in 10 markets across Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Maryland, reaching 9.8 million TV and streaming households in every county of the Keystone State.
WHTM abc27 News anchor and Capitol Bureau Reporter Owens and WPXI Anchor Lisa Sylvester will co-host the debate from the abc27 studio in Harrisburg.
The one hour debate will air on eight television stations serving the state: WHTM-TV (ABC) in Harrisburg/Lancaster, Lebanon, York, WPXI-TV (NBC) in Pittsburgh, WPHL-TV (MyNetworkTV) in Philadelphia, WTAJ-TV (CBS) in Johnstown/Altoona/State College, WBRE-TV (NBC) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton, WJET-TV (ABC) and WFXP-TV (FOX) in Erie, and WYTV-TV (ABC) in Youngstown, OH.
In addition, the debate will be live-streamed on WETM-TV (NBC) in Elmira, NY, WPIX-TV (CW) in New York, NY, WIVB-TV (CBS) in Buffalo, NY, and WDVM-TV (IND) in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, all radio stations throughout the commonwealth will be provided free access regardless of their market.
The primary election for governor of Pennsylvania is scheduled to take place on May 17. Voters must register to vote by May 2.
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