The final full day of campaigning in Pennsylvania’s hotly contested gubernatorial and US Senate primary began Monday with a lead Senate candidate in the hospital and establishment Republicans trying to stave off victories from candidates they fear may be in the middle fall will not be eligible.
Lt. gov. John Fetterman, the polling and fundraising leader in the Democratic Party’s US Senate primary, remained hospitalized Monday after suffering a stroke just before the weekend.
His campaign said he would not appear at Pittsburgh’s election night party on Tuesday, although Fetterman said Sunday he was feeling better, expected to make a full recovery and would resume campaigning after getting some rest.
Meanwhile, fresh ads of attack are being aired against late-rising Republican US Senate nominee Kathy Barnette as many in the Republican establishment have begun to consolidate their support in a bid to block Doug Mastriano from winning the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the president’s battleground state.
Some Republicans fear Barnette and Mastriano are too divisive to beat Democratic opponents in a general election. Barnette and Mastriano have fought together, supported each other and spread conspiracy theories, including former President Donald Trump’s lies that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 election.
They’ve also spent a fraction of the money that some of their rivals have.
The confusion reflects the high stakes of Tuesday’s Pennsylvania election and the uncertainty that has rocked the campaigns for the past week amid news of Fetterman’s hospitalization and last-minute scuffles in the Republican primary.
In the gubernatorial race, an organization that has reportedly spent about $13 million to support Republican nominee Bill McSwain, a lawyer appointed by Donald Trump as U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, traded just under two days before the close of the election for former Congressman Lou Barletta.
The Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, a business body whose political action committees are channels for money from billionaire Jeffrey Yass, said it believes Barletta has the best chance of beating Mastriano. The group are now urging McSwain to step out and support Barletta.
Mastriano, recently endorsed by Trump, belittles Republican efforts to defeat him and characterizes Democrats, including President Joe Biden, as the radical left.
“The swamp hit back, but they hit and they failed, they missed, and Donald Trump came in in the middle of their conspiracy with the others’ swamp-like creatures and backed me up and cut off their legs on the bottom line,” Mastriano said Interview on Monday with the Light of Liberty Podcast.
Meanwhile, in the hard-fought Republican US Senate primary, Barnette worked to stave off mounting attacks from former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and heart surgeon and TV star Mehmet Oz, Trump’s nominee.
Barnette said on conservative radio Breitbart on Monday that “I’m not a globalist, they both are” and that they have “very strong ties to the World Economic Forum,” an organization that has been the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories.
They pretend to be “trump card-carrying members of the Patriots Party,” she said, and she called Oz — who was born in the United States to parents who immigrated from Turkey and have dual citizenship — “not just an American, but also Turkish.”
“Globalist” is a derogatory term of anti-Semitic origin, adopted by Trump and others around him to conjure up an elite, international clique that does not serve America’s best interests.
Barnette also suggested to Breitbart Radio that she would not support Oz or McCormick if they won the primary, saying “I have no intention of supporting globalists.”
However, she later seemed to contradict herself, telling reporters in Scranton, “I think they’re globalists and I find that very annoying. But … I will do whatever I can for the GOP to make sure we win and make sure the Democrats don’t win.”
Trump’s support of both Mastriano and Oz has drawn the Pennsylvania Republican establishment into dissent, with some warning that Mastriano is too far right to beat Democrat Josh Shapiro in the general election this fall.
Trump himself has warned that Barnette can’t win in the fall – but Mastriano is campaigning with her. In a phone conversation with Oz Monday night, Trump warned that if Barnette is checked, there will be disaster for the party.
With polls showing a late rise for Barnette, Trump’s attacks reflected an eleventh hour of behind-the-scenes campaigns by Trump allies and rivals to discredit her. If elected, she would be the first black Republican in the Senate.
On Monday, the Oz campaign sent a 90-second robocall to Republican voters, in which Trump urged them to vote for Oz and attacked McCormick and Barnette as “not candidates who put America first,” Trump’s label for his philosophy of government.
In addition to new assault ads targeting Barnette, she is being questioned about a history of inflammatory comments that include denigrating Muslims and gays. She said her Islamophobic tweets were taken out of context.
She is also asked if she was involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol after attending Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally that day. She wasn’t, she said.
“It’s confusing to understand Kathy Barnette. Every time she answers one question, she asks many more,” Oz said on Fox News Radio’s The Brian Kilmeade Show.
Barnette spoke to several dozen supporters at a Scranton hotel on Monday night and said her rivals are lying about her because she is winning.
“Are you sure you want to hear more smear attacks, more attacks, throwing people under the bus, using leftist tactics to try and destroy one of theirs?” Barnette asked.
McCormick, a decorated US Army veteran who has had strong ties to the party establishment since his time in President George W. Bush’s administration, has also been repeatedly criticized by Trump over the past two weeks.
Still, McCormick is closing out the campaign by airing a television commercial showing a video clip of Trump at a private ceremony in 2020, in which he congratulated McCormick and said, “You’ve served our country well in so many different ways.”
“You know why he said that,” McCormick says in the TV ad. “Because it’s true. I risked my life for America and I would do it again in a heartbeat. … I’m a pro-life, pro-gun, America First conservative and damn proud of it.”
https://nypost.com/2022/05/17/pennsylvania-election-primary-for-governor-and-u-s-senate-preview/ Pennsylvania primary election preview for governor and US Senate