GETTYSBURG — A Pennsylvania state senator who has pushed to overturn last year’s presidential election and led protests against pandemic shutdowns and mitigation efforts formally announced on Saturday that he will run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County launched his campaign at a Gettysburg rally more than four months before voters will pick the major-party candidates in the race to succeed Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is term-limited.

Mastriano’s decision to join the large field of GOP hopefuls was widely expected, particularly after he said last month that he had reached his goal for campaign donations.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, former chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners, appears to have cleared the Democratic Party primary field.

The primary election is May 17.

Mastriano, 58, was a little-known retired Army colonel who had lost a run for Congress when he won a 2019 special election for the state Senate from a rural district where I-81 meets the Maryland state line.

The pandemic and his energetic efforts on behalf of former President Donald Trump before and after the 2020 results were in catapulted him to prominence within state Republican circles.

The GOP field seeking the nomination for governor is remarkably wide — 13 appeared at a candidates’ forum in Carlisle last week, but not Mastriano or former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton.

» READ MORE: Tracking the race to the Pennsylvania governor's office