Jake Corman, the Centre County Republican who serves as state Senate president pro tempore and is running for governor, visited Philadelphia this week to continue his long-shot push to impeach District Attorney Larry Krasner.

He sat down with The Inquirer to discuss his campaign in a very crowded Republican primary. We took him back to the beginning, when he was preparing to enter the race.

You reportedly told congressional Republicans from Pennsylvania that you were the candidate who could clear the field. Did you say that?

“I don’t remember,” Corman said with a laugh. “If I did, I was wrong. I probably thought there was an opportunity to sort of coalesce around someone. So, if I said that, it didn’t happen.”

Corman said 2021 campaign finance reports made public this week will help narrow the field, with an eye toward beating the only established Democrat in the race, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro — whose campaign is already flush with cash.

» READ MORE: The first fund-raising reports in the Pa. governor’s race show it’s up for grabs

“It was sort of free to be in the race in the fall and up to now. Now people are looking at it and saying, ‘Who really has a chance to take on someone the likes of Josh Shapiro, someone who is sitting on $13 million, someone who has run statewide twice before.’”

Do you think recent straw polls of local GOP activists provide an accurate read of where the candidates stand? [Corman finished a distant third in Southeast Caucus results Wednesday and didn’t perform well in other regional votes.]

“I don’t. I think when you get to the voters it’s a whole other story.”

How important is former President Donald Trump in the primary?

“He’s always important, right? He’s really expanded the Republican primary voters over the years. If you did polling, he’d probably be the highest-polling Republican. I don’t know if he’s going to play a role. But whatever role he chooses, I’m sure it will be important.”

» READ MORE: Trump is front and center in Pennsylvania’s race for governor. Will it stay that way?

Is Trump’s past criticism of you a problem for your campaign?

“I think anyone, whether the former president or anyone else, has to look at who has the ability to win. Because you want someone to win in the fall. The goal here is to win in the fall, not in May. It’s nice to win in May, but if you don’t win in November it doesn’t really mean a lot. So who has ability to win who has ability to put a campaign together with the resources to match Josh Shapiro? And then who has ability to govern to get things done?”

You’re an establishment Republican from an established Republican family. That used to be an advantage. Is it a disadvantage in this climate?

“I don’t know. My record is my plus. When other people are talking about things they see that are wrong or right or things they want to do, I’ve already done it. When you talk about election security, I’ve already passed a bill with voter ID twice in my career. [One was struck down by the courts, the other vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf.] I’ve launched an investigation into the 2020 election. When they talk about standing up to Tom Wolf on taxes, I did it. I defeated his tax increase.”

» READ MORE: We're tracking the candidates running for Pennsylvania governor

Do you think Joe Biden won Pennsylvania in 2020 in a free and fair election?

“Yeah. He’s the certified winner. Again, all our efforts on this is to review and then set policies going forward. The legislature, as I’ve said from the beginning, has no authority on results. We have the authority to put better public policies in place to make sure people are comfortable with how we vote, moving forward.”