Conservative groups oppose Trump, Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Several prominent conservative groups are getting involved in Pennsylvania’s race for the U.S. Senate and supporting candidate Kathy Barnette as an alternative to Mehmet Ozthe famous heart surgeon endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

The Anti-Tax Growth Club endorsed Barnette on Wednesday and began airing television commercials on her behalf. This follows Susan B. Anthony List’s anti-abortion decision on Tuesday to back Barnette over Oz.

Susan B. Anthony List Endorsement Comes Timely, With Abortion in the Headlinesand her support for Barnette has brought to light the story she told of being the result of a rape when her mother was 11.

“Kathy is a courageous advocate for life who exposes the human cost of abortion,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement.

It’s unclear if the endorsements and publicity will be enough to lift Barnette to the top of the pack in Pennsylvania’s May 17 primary.

The Club for Growth, for example, has unlocked millions of dollars in advertising against Trump-backed JD Vance in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary earlier this month only for the “Hillbilly Elegy” author to go on and win the race by a margin of eight points.

But the growing attention for Barnette suggests that some conservative and pro-Trump circles worry that Oz doesn’t sufficiently reflect their views on abortion, guns or the culture wars the GOP is waging against Democrats.

An Oz loss next week would mark another setback for Trump after his favored gubernatorial candidate lost in Nebraska’s Republican primary on Tuesday.

Trump remains the most popular figure among Republican voters and his endorsement helped Vance secure victory in the final weeks of the Ohio campaign. The two Trump-backed congressional candidates also won the West Virginia primary.

A Fox News poll released on Monday, however, suggested a close race in Pennsylvania’s Senate election.

The poll found that 22% of GOP primary voters supported Oz with former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and Barnette clustered at 20% and 19%. About a fifth of voters, or 18%, said they were undecided.

If elected, the 50-year-old would be Pennsylvania’s first black woman sent to the US Senate.

She entered the race with little name recognition or money, but won support from some right-wing groups by campaigning with allies of Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories that Democrats stole the election from 2020 in Pennsylvania.

In recent years, she’s become a speaker for anti-abortion causes, penned a memoir about being black and conservative, ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat in a Democratic-leaning suburb of Philadelphia and gained a platform as a guest on conservative news shows. .

Until recently, the Pennsylvania Senate race was mostly a costly duel between Oz and McCormick. The candidates and the super PACs who support them have said they have spent more than $50 million and have covered the airwaves in Pennsylvania with television ads.

McCormick, who has significant establishment connections from his service in the administration of former President George W. Bush, has received support from various Trump administration figures and will close the campaign with Texas Senator Ted Cruz crossing Pennsylvania for him.

But McCormick suffered a blow when Trump attacked him at a Friday rally for Oz, calling McCormick “a candidate for special interests and globalists and the Washington establishment.”

Trump did not mention Barnette. McCormick and Oz remained largely silent in public about Barnette, who raised and spent a fraction of their money.

But Barnette slammed the two as carpet baggers and “globalists,” criticized Oz as a liberal and took aim at what she called the GOP’s habit of electing “the richest person.”

She also rejected Trump’s endorsement of Oz, saying that Trump’s slogan Make America Great, or MAGA, “does not belong to President Trump. MAGA, although he coined the word, MAGA actually belongs to the people.

Pennsylvania’s other major race, for its open governorship, is also volatile for Republicansparty leaders and movement conservatives fearful that a far-right candidate will win.

That candidate, Doug Mastriano, and Barnette often campaign together, alongside key figures in Trump’s inner circle who have spread denial about the 2020 election, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Jenna Ellis.

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Follow AP for full midterm election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics

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Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/timelywriter


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