Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, speaks during a Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Election 2020 Pennsylvania Review
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, speaks during a Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

After announcing last month that he was exiting the governor’s race, only to throw his hat back in the ring several hours later, the president pro tempore of the state Senate announced Thursday that he was ending his campaign and endorsing rival candidate Lou Barletta.

Republican Jake Corman is ending his campaign to become Pennsylvania’s next governor for good this time.

After announcing last month that he was exiting the governor’s race, only to throw his hat back in the ring several hours later following a conversation with former President Donald Trump, Corman announced Thursday that he was ending his campaign and endorsing rival candidate Lou Barletta.

Corman, Pennsylvania’s ranking state senator, exits the race as GOP leaders are expressing concern that leading candidate, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (Franklin) is too far right to win in a general election.

Corman’s name will remain on ballots statewide for Tuesday’s primary, and mail-in voting has been underway for weeks. It’s unclear what, if any, effect Corman’s decision to end his campaign will have on the race, since polls have shown him gaining little traction.

Mastriano has shown strength in recent polls, while being a prominent peddler of conspiracy theories, including former President Donald Trump’s false claims that widespread fraud marred the 2020 election and resulted in his loss in Pennsylvania. Mastriano also floated a plan to overturn the election results, helping draw a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

For weeks, party officials behind the scenes have urged candidates in what was originally a 10-deep field to step aside and coalesce around one candidate to help defeat Mastriano. One dropped out early enough in the race to remove his name from ballots, but eight candidates still remain.

Both Corman and Barletta declined to say why they think Mastriano cannot beat the presumptive Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Barletta acknowledged Thursday that there is very little difference in policy between him and Mastriano. Rather, he pointed to his experience winning elections as mayor in small-city Hazleton and in winning four terms in Congress.

Mastriano earlier this week said the Republican establishment “is in a panic mode” at the prospect that he will be the party’s nominee. Meanwhile, two other Republicans who remain in the race, Bill McSwain and Dave White, derided the Corman-Barletta alliance as one career politician endorsing another career politician.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.