Doug Mastriano speaks onstage during election night in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on November 8. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Retired Republican Senator Pat Toomey on Thursday sharply criticized Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano for pushing back Mehmet Oz’s candidacy in the race to replace Toomey in the Senate.

The outgoing senator made the remarks in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Toomey began by saying he thought Oz “had a really good campaign.”

“So the question that arises, I think, is, ‘Why hasn’t a good candidate, who is running a good race, in what should be a very good environment, prevailed in a state like the Pennsylvania – which is very, very competitive? “Toomey said.

“I think a big part of the reason was that at the top of the ticket, in the gubernatorial race, we had an ultra-MAGA candidate who never seemed to even attempt to expand beyond that. ‘a hardcore base that was very, very attached to him. But he ended up losing in an epic beatdown.”

Toomey said it was “very, very difficult” for a Republican to win with someone so unpopular at the top of the ticket. He pointed out that Oz’s loss to Democrat John Fetterman was relatively small compared to Mastriano’s margin against Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro.

Toomey, who has strongly criticized former President Donald Trump and the change in the Republican Party under his leadership, blamed the former president for getting involved in the selection of candidates across the country.

“It’s a huge problem, and I think my party has to deal with the fact that if loyalty to Donald Trump is the main criteria for selecting candidates, we’re probably not going to do very well,” he said. he told Burnett.

A bit of context: The Trump-endorsed Mastriano drew national attention for his vehement campaign denial and appearance in Washington on January 6, 2021.

As the election progressed, he did little to cover his far-right positions or reach out to groups beyond his supporter base, CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote.

Oz, meanwhile, has focused on bringing “balance” to the Senate in the final days of the race – presenting himself as a moderate voice capable of navigating the extremes within both parties.

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