Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, (R-Franklin), speaks to supporters of President Donald Trump as they demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become 46th president of the United States. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Election 2020 Protests Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, (R-Franklin), speaks to supporters of President Donald Trump as they demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become 46th president of the United States. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A majority of the GOP candidates seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination still back Trump and his “big lie,” leaving the future of elections in the commonwealth in peril.

The 2020 presidential election proved how crucial the role of secretary of state is. As the chief election officer, they can either stand up against illegal election interference or aid right-wing conspiracies in undermining democracy.

While in most states it is an elected position, in Pennsylvania the governor appoints someone to the position. 

Almost all of the GOP candidates vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the commonwealth have disputed the results of the 2020 election, called for them to be overturned, and continue to perpetuate former President Donald Trump’s “big lie.”

“Sometimes, the vote counter is more important than the candidate,” Trump said in a video message prior to a Republican gubernatorial debate in January.

Trump could potentially run again for president in 2024. With many of the Republican candidates still letting Trump pull the strings, what could it mean for the election process in the commonwealth?

GOP Candidates Perpetrating the ‘Big Lie’

Of the nine Republican candidates on the May primary ballot, seven continue to spread fraudulent claims of voter fraud started by Trump and all nine of them support repealing no excuse mail-in voting in Pennsylvania.   

Lou Barletta and Charlie Gerow signed and submitted false electoral college certificates declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election. 

Barletta refuses to acknowledge that President Joe Biden won and wants an “audit” of the results.

Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) organized bus trips to the Trump rally that led to the insurrection. He was subpoenaed by the US House committee investigating Jan. 6.

Mastriano also launched a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election last July. He was removed from leading it after disputes over how to run it. He continues to promote Trump’s lies about the election and has pushed for the results to be overturned.

Dave White continues to support Trump’s calls for a sham “audit” of the 2020 election results. 

Joe Gale has touted himself as the first elected official in Pennsylvania to endorse Donald Trump for president in 2016. He has attacked a number of incumbent Republicans for voting in favor of Act 77 in 2019, which Gale claims “ended up destroying Donald Trump’s bid for reelection.”

Bill McSwain, who was the Trump administration’s US attorney in Philadelphia, has sought Trump’s endorsement by raising vague allegations of voter fraud. Just recently Trump said he would not endorse McSwain for governor, calling him a coward.

The former president is apparently still unhappy that McSwain didn’t act on Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

Last year, McSwain sent a letter to Trump claiming that his office had “received various allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities” but then-Attorney General Bill Barr prevented him from publicly announcing the allegations. Barr rejected McSwain’s claims, saying his “cutely written” letter was an attempt to curry favor with Trump.

While Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) has said he accepts the 2020 election results he still supports and defends a “forensic investigation” of the results. 

Corman recently petitioned the courts to remove his name from the May primary ballot, but decided to stay in after receiving encouragement from Trump.

Melissa Hart has declined to say if she believes in debunked allegations of voter fraud in 2020, but did express concerns over how ballots were handled. Hart and Nche Zama are the only two candidates who have not spread false claims of voter fraud and neither seem to be seeking Trump’s endorsement in their bid for governor.