PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Jake Corman has dropped out of the Republican race for Governor of Pennsylvania for a second time and is endorsing candidate Lou Barletta.

The Senate Pro Tempore made his announcement on Thursday morning in Harrisburg.

“It’s my job to show leadership where it matters and so, today, putting the party first it is time for me to step aside and support someone who can win in the fall,” Corman said. “I think the amazing thing about Lou’s campaign is he’s been consistently towards the top of the polls despite spending far less money than other candidates. It shows his popularity, it shows his tenacity.”

Barletta responded by saying that he is honored to have Corman’s support and hopes if other candidates dropped out that he would also receive their support.

Corman said the only way he thinks the Republican party could lose in the fall is to stay divided and nominate someone that can’t possibly win in the fall.

“As a Republican party, I do think it is time that we coalesce and I would strongly advise, and I am not big on advising other people in their candidacy, that other candidates in this race to think about the same way. What is important is the party itself and our ability to put a candidate forward who can ultimately debate and win in the fall,” Corman said.

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Corman cited Barletta’s experience as Mayor of Hazleton and a United States congressman. He also said he believes Barletta can repair the relationship between the state legislature and the governor’s office and work with both parties on issues like election security, school choice, and immigration.

The announcement came just five days before the Pennsylvania primary election on May 17. Corman pushed back against criticism that it was too late.

“There’s a lot of people that even though in the polling they may have picked a candidate, still is in a position to maybe change their mind,” he said.

The news comes amid reports of Republican leaders pushing gubernatorial candidates polling in the single digits to drop out with controversial State Senator Doug Mastriano holding a double-digit lead over Barletta with less than a week until election day.

Corman and Barletta said Thursday’s announcement had nothing to do with Mastriano or any other candidates. While some Republicans have criticized Mastriano’s views, arguing he will not appeal to moderate voters, Barletta and Corman largely stayed silent at Thursday’s announcement.

“I haven’t run one negative ad, I personally like Doug Mastriano,” Barletta said.

Both said they would not answer the question of whether Mastriano could win a general election, and Barletta said he would back the Republican candidate, even if it is not him.

“The decision people need to make is who can beat Josh Shapiro,” he said. “I do not want Josh Shapiro to be our next governor, I will support any Republican that wins this election.”

Full Press Conference:

abc27’s Dennis Owens spoke with Mastriano on Wednesday morning about the reported efforts to diminish his candidacy.

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“It helps us,” said Mastriano. “In the end, it confirms so many people’s suspicions that there is a political establishment that tries to pick winners and losers. Sadly in the Republican establishment, they tend to pick losers.”

On April 12 Corman had filed to withdraw from the race after poll numbers showed him with single-digit support. Hours later after speaking with former President Donald Trump, Corman filed a petition to withdraw his previous court filing to remain in the race.

“Two developments today have led me to decide to remain in the race for governor: President Trump’s statement on the race and my conversation directly with the president. He encouraged me to keep fighting, and that’s what I’m going to do – keep fighting for the people of Pennsylvania.” 

Despite remaining in the race, poll numbers for Pennslyvania’s State Senate Pro Tempore have not moved in over a month.

Corman, a Bellefonte resident, received 4% support in a WHTM/Emerson College Polling/The Hill Pennsylvania primary poll released in April.

In a Franklin & Marshall College Poll released in early May, Corman was not among the top four candidates. Leading the poll was State Senator Doug Mastriano with 20%, followed by Bill McSwain at 12% and Lou Barletta with 11%. Dave White rounded out the top four with 8% and 34% were undecided.

The poll did not release the total results for the other four candidates in the Pennsylvania Governor race, which include Corman, Nche Zama, Joe Gale, and Charlie Gerow.

Corman had hired former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway as an advisor to his campaign.

Pennsylvania’s primary election is on May 17.

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