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Scott Wagner gets Steve Bannon’s stamp of approval in governor’s race

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — President Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed a candidate for the GOP nomination in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election next year, but Scott Wagner might have something close to it.

Steve Bannon, the divisive ex-Trump strategist, urged a conservative gathering in St. Louis over the weekend to support the Republican state senator from Spring Garden Township.

Wagner told the crowd that flying to St. Louis with Bannon left him “500 percent more emboldened.” He also said Pennsylvanians are being “shafted” by politicians from both major parties and criticized the state Senate’s Republican leadership as giving Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf “a free pass.”

Wagner told The York Dispatch his meeting with Bannon was just a coincidence.

"I was going to this rally, and he was there," he said.

Scott Wagner speaks at a campaign tour kickoff at one of his Penn Waste facilities Monday, July 10, 2017. During the next four to six weeks, Wagner is planning stops across the state to bolster his gubernatorial run. Bill Kalina photo

Asked whether Bannon would be appearing at a future campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Wagner said that wasn't the plan, but "anything is possible."

Bannon touted Wagner as challenging “a corrupt and incompetent Republican establishment” that he says hasn’t supported Trump. Ex-health care consultant Paul Mango also is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Wolf’s bid for a second term next year.

Wagner won his Senate seat in a special election during 2014 by running as a write-in candidate after the state GOP endorsed a different candidate.

Wagner also held a campaign rally last year at one of his Penn Waste facilities with now-Vice President Mike Pence in support of Trump.

More: Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump’s turbulent White House

More: GOP candidate Scott Wagner says George Soros rant not racist

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon speaks at a rally for U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Fairhope, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

— Staff reporter David Weissman contributed to this report.