Katie Barnett and her ardent fan in Pennsylvania Republican Senate Primariesformer President Donald Trump made a mistake.
The point is not that Barnett and her supporters still do not support the former president. They do, and many of her supporters remain Trump’s most ardent defenders. But if the former president supported by celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz at the Republican Senate primaries it paved the way for Barnett to run further to the right and more in line with the “MAGA movement” than any of its major opponents.
“As far as people support Trump, hey, he’s not God,” said Gary Smith, chairman of the West Pennsylvania Constitutional Republicans in Jefferson County, who personally plans to vote for Barnett. “He made a mistake. I think that’s one of the worst mistakes he made in his recommendations, because Oz is all we are not.”
Smith added: “This is Trump’s country. In a year all the signs are still there … But I would say that now 90 percent of our group will probably vote for it.”
Barnett’s campaign has been a resounding success in recent months of primaries, according to Pennsylvania Republican top operatives and county officials, many of whom were impressed by the strength and power of the Senate author and commentator’s bid in the face of unmatched money.
This persistence was rewarded this week when a number of Republican groups announced they were going to provide more financial support to Barnett. Club for Growth, the leading Republican super PAC, set aside nearly $ 2 million for advertising on behalf of Barnett on Tuesday, according to AdImpact advertising tracker. And two anti-abortion organizations – Super PAC unit Susan B. Anthony Liszt and CatholicVote – announced on Tuesday that they support Barnett. Both groups now plan to use their extensive nationwide networks to help the Conservative candidate.
While the two best Republicans are in the race, Oz is also a former hedge fund manager Dave McCormickself-financing his campaigns and spending millions on television commercials, Barnett crossed the Commonwealth in relative uncertainty, holding events with a number of Republican groups, spending little money on television and winning many activists who will make up the electorate on Tuesday’s primaries.
“She goes out in public, attends these events and meets not only with committee members but also with Lee’s locals,” said Joe Wichot, chairman of the Lehigh County Republican Committee, about Barnett, who recently overtook his rivals with better finances. victory in the Straw County Poll.
Wichot said that although there is a part of the party that will vote for someone who supports Trump, many are not so attached to the support of the former president, but are looking for someone who, in their opinion, embodies the former president.
“It’s a resonance,” he added, noting questions about Oz’s conservative powers. “Some people will vote for Oz because that’s what Trump says, but it’s not always so. They like what Trump did, and they like what he stands for and what he fights for. That’s what she has.”
A a new Fox poll was released on Tuesday showed wide open primaries: Oz – 22%, McCormick – 20% and Barnett – 19% – within the error of the poll – and 18% of Republican voters were undecided. Barnett’s position rose by 10 points compared to the March Fox poll. And if Barnett can benefit from the fact that the top two candidates are narrowly focused on each other, and get an unexpected victory in the primaries on Tuesday, it’s partly because of a rejection of Trump’s decision to support Oz.
“MAGA does not belong to President Trump,” Barnett said in a recent debate to explain why she did not receive the former president’s approval. “Although he coined the word, MAGA actually belongs to the people. Our values have never, ever changed the values of President Trump. It was President Trump who shifted and aligned with our values.”
This is a strategy that Barnett has been following for months. Smith recalled that Barnett told him back in October 2021 that her strategy was to accept Trump and fill the gap as soon as the top candidates would beat each other up with negative publicity.
“She told me, ‘I’m going to let the top three just beat each other, and I’m going to slip in and win,'” Smith recalls. “And I think this girl is going to slide right like this Kentucky Derby winner just did. It’s going to be close … but I think she’s going to do it.”
From the 2020 loss to the start of the Senate election campaign
Barnett is a relatively newcomer to her chosen policy, and both her book and the company’s website have few details about her ties to the Commonwealth. In 2020, she resisted Republican primaries without resistance, but lost to Democrat Madeleine Dean by 19 percentage points for a seat in Congress in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
In her 2020 book, “Lose Nothing, All to Gain: Be Black and Conservative in America,” Barnett details how she “grew up on a very small farm in southern Alabama in a single-sign city” in a house without plumbing and an outbuilding.
In a recent debate, Barnett, a mother of two who chose to teach her children at home, also said she was a “by-product of rape” when a 21-year-old man conceived her 11-year-old mother. She said she has turned the trauma into her current life by using it to communicate with voters who oppose abortion.
The book goes on to describe in detail Barnett’s views on how to be a conservative, how she associated being black with a Democrat – “I was born in the Democratic Party just as much as in brown skin,” she writes, “and as Trump’s 2016 campaign. and his appeal to black voters inspired her views on conservatism.
The Barnett website, based on her “dirty” upbringing, says she graduated from college, served 10 years in the Army Reserve and continued to work and teach corporate finance. It does not describe Barnett’s ties to Pennsylvania, or when she moved to the state.
What Barnett lacked funding – she spent a paltry $ 160,000 on television commercials compared to $ 13 million for Oz and $ 12 million for McCormick – made up for it with energy. County officials told CNN that Barnett is by far the most responsive of Senate candidates, often attending events in rural states and spending time with activists and voters. Spots Barnett is also more focused on issues such as rising prices than on destroying her opponents.
“I know what’s most important to you and your family because I am you,” she says in a recent video. “Everything will be fine. Our ability to live is shrinking. Biden did it. ”
Barnett also singled out far-right positions popular with Republican activists. She is proud to be skeptical of the coronavirus vaccine – her Facebook photo has one sign: “Hire the unvaccinated” – and she said politicians on both sides of the aisle “allowed COVID-19 to prevail over the Constitution”.
She also regularly sprinkles her vague speeches with baseless allegations of rigging the 2020 election, arguing that the Republican Party “absolutely shouldn’t” back away from talking about past elections, and sometimes claiming that its overwhelming loss in Congress was “irregularities.”
Mastriana, who was the main Republican in the polls at the gubernatorial primaries, responded reciprocally by supporting Barnett, and they have been campaigning together ever since.
“Because you are a liberal”
Although Barnett decided not to make major opponents the focus of her campaign, she regularly accused Oz and McCormick of being fake conservatives who, to get a Senate seat, moved to Pennsylvania for the primaries. Both top Republicans have been accused of lacking carpets: Oz until recently lived in New Jersey, and McCormick previously lived in Connecticut.
The strategy clearly got under their skin – especially Oz.
At the March forum, Barnett insisted on her attacks on Oz, saying the race was “not a talk show” and that Pennsylvania voters needed people who understood the problems and who were not just sitting in a room but learning our conversations. and then come back and give them to us ”. She went on to claim that Oz had spent his entire career trying to be “a liberal who worked alongside Oprah and Michelle Obama.”
Oz erupted for comment, given the rules of the forum, candidates should not have attacked each other. Oz, trying to turn the situation on Barnett, used his conclusion to ask, “You should all ask yourself why everyone is attacking me?”
Barnett, without fear, interrupted: “Because you are a liberal.”
It is this militancy – something that many Trump supporters associate with the former president – that has won many of Pennsylvania’s most conservative voters, along with a desire to speak out.
“It seemed like a real thing,” said Donna DePue, vice president of the Wyoming County Republican Women’s Council, with whom Barnett spoke in late April.
The Barnett campaign, its supporters say, has found a lack of simple excitement for either Oz or McCormick, a problem exacerbated by Trump’s decision – wrong, in their view – to support the TV doctor.
“It has helped her. I hear very few people in this county or surrounding rural districts who are enthusiastic about Oz or McCormick, none of them. They are very disappointed that President Trump has supported him,” said DePue, who added that while Republicans would support any candidate in general, it may be reluctant.
This was clear when the Susquehan County Bureau of Farms recently sent all Senate candidates an invitation to their spring meeting. Barnett was a Senate nominee to accept the invitation, said David DeLeon, president of the Agricultural Bureau in Northeast Pennsylvania County.
Barnett appeared at the event and spent about an hour with the group, talking to members and giving speeches about her rural upbringing and her views on politics.
DeLeon, who plans to vote in the primaries from the Democratic Party, said that although they sent letters to each candidate, they received a sender from only one – Oz – the first for the group.
“If you had asked me (could Barnett win) two weeks ago, there was absolutely no chance. Today there is a chance, absolutely, ”DeLeon said. “All I see all the time on TV is McCormick and Oz, McCormick and Oz … There’s an opportunity for two big money boys to share in the middle, and it allows someone to sneak up on you.”