Updated Apr 12, 2022 - Politics

Trump issues anti-endorsement in Pennsylvania governor's race

Bill McSwain

Then-U.S. Attorney William McSwain speaks during a press conference on March 14, 2019. Photo: Lauren A. Little/Getty

Former President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he will not be endorsing Bill McSwain for Pennsylvania governor.

  • "Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our country down," Trump wrote in a statement about his former appointee for U.S. attorney.

Why it matters: It's another test of Trump's influence in GOP politics, and it comes less than a month after he employed a similar tactic against Alabama Senate hopeful Mo Brooks.

What happened: Most of Trump's statement denouncing McSwain is based on false claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

  • Trump accuses McSwain, who had been campaigning on his ties to the former president, of doing "absolutely nothing on the massive election fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth."
  • He also took a swing at Bill Barr, his former attorney general, saying he was "afraid of being impeached by the Democrats."

Catch up fast: McSwain is competing against more than half a dozen Republicans in the governor's race.

  • McSwain sent a letter to Trump last summer asking for his endorsement and blaming Barr for not allowing him to share "possible election irregularities" in 2020. He didn't say, however, that he was prevented from investigating voter fraud claims, as Trump has previously alleged.
  • Barr referred to Trump's claims of election fraud as "bulls--t" last month during an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, which inspired Trump to rant against him soon after in a letter to the journalist.

What they're saying: McSwain maintains he's proud of his record and defended himself by saying he's prosecuted people for voter fraud before.

  • "When I'm governor, we're going to get back to a voting system that everyone has confidence in," he said.

McSwain also used the opportunity to condemn competitor State Sen. Doug Mastriano for voting in favor of a 2019 state law that expanded mail-in voting.

  • Mastriano did not immediately return Axios' requests for comment.

Meanwhile, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman reversed his decision to drop his gubernatorial bid on Tuesday, saying he spoke to Trump hours after filing paperwork to withdraw from the race.

  • "He encouraged me to keep fighting, and that's what I'm going to do — keep fighting for the people of Pennsylvania," he said in a statement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add comment from Jake Corman.


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