So far, Donald Trump has surpassed his personal prestige in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primaries so far, going through a final spasm of uncertainty as Kathy Barnette, an insurgent candidate with a sparse resume, gives a last-minute choice scare. from Trump, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The outcome of that election, as well as the GOP contest for governor, threatens to implode the state’s Republican Party — with an explosion that can be felt in states as far away as Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina over the coming weeks and months.
The turbulence also has major implications for Trump’s grip on the party, which has become increasingly alarmed that the former president’s involvement in the primaries would jeopardize Republicans’ chances of winning back the Senate, despite President Biden’s unpopularity. can reduce.
Trump backed Oz, a famous physician, on the advice of many Republicans inside and outside Pennsylvania. The bill is coming, those Republicans are now saying.
Many of Trump’s own voters have expressed skepticism about Oz, who has fended off millions of dollars in negative ads highlighting his past Republican heterodoxies on issues as diverse as abortion and gun rights. As of Monday, Oz leads by nearly three percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls in the primary, which roughly matches the Oz campaign’s latest daily tracking poll, I’m told.
It’s not clear what time deciding Republicans will eventually vote, though a new Susquehanna University poll found that 45 percent of respondents who had made a decision “in the past few days” supported Barnette.
A belated approval
On Saturday, Trump finally approved Doug Mastriano, a retired military officer with a conspiracy theory who is leading the polls in the governor’s race, in an apparent attempt to hedge his bets.
“He’s clearly upset that things aren’t going his way,” said David Urban, a political aide and early Trump supporter who led the former president’s efforts to win Pennsylvania in the 2016 election.
Urban supports Dave McCormick, a fellow West Point graduate, in the Senate race, saying he hadn’t talked to Trump about the primaries recently.
The McCormick camp hopes the fireworks between Barnette and Oz will earn him a second look from voters, who seem to be wavering between the top three contenders.
Understand the Pennsylvania primaries
The pivotal swing state will hold its primary on May 17, with key races for a US Senate seat and governorship.
Not everyone buys it.
A veteran Republican cop in Pennsylvania who doesn’t align with a Senate campaign, McCormick compared to Hans Gruber, the villain in the movie “Die Hard,” who tries to skyrocket on Bruce Willis’s character, even as he from the top of Nakatomi Plaza .
Barnette has endorsed Mastriano and vice versa, and the two have held events together — almost as if they’re walking together like some sort of super-MAGA ticket. She has in recent days dismissed questions about her background, including about her military service and her past Islamophobic comments.
Oz, who, if elected, would become America’s first Muslim senator, called those comments “disqualifying” and “reprehensible” in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday.
In the race for governor, Republicans who align with the party establishment are desperately trying to prevent Mastriano from winning the nomination, and have urged other candidates to rally around former Representative Lou Barletta, who is running for governor with the help of several former top Trump campaign officials.
One of the first congressmen to embrace Trump, former Pennsylvania Representative Tom Marino, reprimanded the former president at a news conference this weekend for what he said was a lack of “loyalty” to Barletta.
In a follow-up interview, Marino said he had no intention of backing anyone in the race, but decided to back Barletta because he felt Barletta had earned Trump’s support by risking his career to see his fate with Trump early in the year. 2016 campaign.
“I did what I did because I was so outraged” at Trump’s endorsement of Mastriano, Marino said. “Loyalty is important to me.”
The wider implications for 2022
Looking at events in Pennsylvania, including the leading Democratic candidate for the Senate, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke Friday, plugged-in observers in both parties used words like “stunned” and “stunned.”
“It’s just insane here,” said Christopher Nicholas, a Republican consultant based in Harrisburg.
The accusations fly by as to why the Republican Party of Pennsylvania failed to see the rise of Barnette and Mastriano until it was too late to halt their momentum. Ballot papers have already been printed, fueling despair among party insiders that efforts to unite the party against one or both of the outside candidates could ultimately prove futile.
“The press paid very little attention to Barnette until the past two weeks,” said G. Terry Madonna, an expert on Pennsylvania politics who for years conducted polls at Franklin and Marshall College.
National Democrats are closely monitoring events in Pennsylvania, with many predicting that the results of Tuesday’s games would affect other Republican Senate primaries in the coming weeks.
And as the public’s anger at inflation and supply chain disruption weighs in the GOP’s favor, Democrats hope to compete in the fall against candidates they believe are easier to beat, such as Barnette.
The greatest impact of Trump’s meddling can be felt in Arizona, where he has not yet given approval. Trump has criticized the incumbent candidate, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, for failing to undo Biden’s win there in 2020, but has not yet chosen an alternative.
David Bergstein, the communications director for the Democratic Senate campaign committee, said Trump’s meddling in the GOP primaries had an even greater effect on the Republican Party than many Democrats had anticipated. “Chaos creates chaos,” he said.
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Another day for Pat McCrory
When North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation in 2016 that critics dubbed the “bathroom bill,” it set off a storm.
Understand the 2022 midterm elections
Why are these midterms so important? This year’s races could tip the balance of power in Congress to Republicans, shattering President Biden’s agenda for the second half of his term. They will also test former President Donald J. Trump’s role as GOP kingmaker. Here’s what you need to know:
The law, which required transgender people to use public restrooms that match their birth gender, sparked protests from major corporations and athletic powerhouses, including the NBA and the NCAA, who withdrew their All-Star Game and March Madness basketball tournaments from the state.
A few months later, McCrory lost re-election.
Fast-forward six years, and Republicans are pushing anti-transgender legislation across the country and punishing companies that dare to object. But McCrory, who is running for the Senate in North Carolina, is struggling in his bid to return to electoral politics, trailing heavily behind a rival backed by Donald Trump in polls.
McCrory also doesn’t talk on the campaign trail about the hot-button issue of LGBTQ rights that brought him national exposure in 2016.
“It’s not a problem that drives me, it never was,” McCrory said in a phone interview Monday. “But it is a problem, if asked I will indicate where I am.”
McCrory’s bid to replace Senator Richard Burr, who is retiring, has been complicated by the strength of Representative Ted Budd, who has the support of both Trump and the conservative Club for Growth and appears to be leading the race.
McCrory supports recently passed Florida law that curbs discussion of sexual orientation in schools. He said he was previously told he was the Ron DeSantis before Ron DeSantis.
But as he seeks the Senate nomination in Tuesday’s primary, he is more interested in talking about inflation. He describes himself as a Ronald Reagan Republican interested in national defense, fighting crime, cutting taxes and balancing budgets.
He also described himself as the Jason Bourne of the Republican Party. “I have these outside special interest groups trying to give me a false identity,” he said, particularly objecting to the attacks by the Club for Growth. “Who the hell are they to determine what kind of conservative I am?”
Carter Wrenn, a longtime Republican strategist in North Carolina, said the Club for Growth spending may be the single biggest factor in the Senate race, and he agreed with McCrory that inflation was the number one problem for voters.
Wrenn said he didn’t think transgender rights were a big issue in the primary because the top candidates most likely agree with McCrory’s actions in 2016.
“Obviously none of his opponents are attacking him in the primaries before that,” Wrenn said, “because if you attack Pat for what he’s done in the past, it would probably help him.”
— Blake & Lea
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