Hart ends gubernatorial bid, endorses Barletta in GOP primary
In another display of seeming solidarity, a second Republican candidate for governor has dropped out of the race to back fellow candidate Lou Barletta.
GOP hopeful Melissa Hart, a former state senator and GOP member of Congress from western Pennsylvania, announced at a press conference in Harrisburg on Friday that she would suspend her campaign and endorse Barletta, also a former member of Congress, and the former elected mayor of Hazleton in Luzerne County.
“The stakes are too high, our Republican primary is too fractured, and we need someone to come out of the Republican primary who is a proven leader, who is a uniter, who is someone who can get Democrat [sic] votes, and who can lead as a person who has a vision and the values that the people of Pennsylvania support,” Hart said in a statement. “I am suspending my campaign and I’m supporting Lou Barletta. We all win when we support a candidate who shares our values and shares our vision and who can win. And that candidate is Lou Barletta.”
Hart’s departure from the race comes a day after Senate President Pro Tempore and gubernatorial hopeful Jake Corman announced he would end his bid for the office to support Barletta, and just days ahead of the May 17 primary election.
The unification of the Republican hopefuls around Barletta also comes amidst reports of growing concern among some Republicans that far-right state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who recorded a double-digit lead in a candidate poll this week, could be the Republican nominee.