Kathy Barnette continues to soar and challenges Oz in the race for the Senate | News, Sports, Jobs

AP Photo/Matt Rourke At a forum for Republican U.S. Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz, left, watches Kathy Barnette finish her remarks in Newtown, Pa., Wednesday, May 11.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Sensing a threat in the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump issued a warning Thursday that rising Republican nominee Kathy Barnette would upset the GOP’s chances of taking the seat in November and has urged voters to support his choice, celebrity heart surgeon Mehmet Oz.

The former president’s statement echoed growing panic among his allies and Barnette’s rivals over his sudden and unanticipated rise ahead of Tuesday’s state primary.

Barrette “I can never win” in a general election showdown with Democrats, Trump said in a statement, adding that Oz “is the only one” who can defeat the Democratic candidate.

Later, during a town hall call with Oz, Trump criticized Barnette for losing a 2020 congressional race — by nearly 20 percentage points, albeit in a heavily Democratic district — and said he doesn’t had never heard of her.

“And the problem is nobody knows what she stands for, who she is and it’s very risky because you’re going to win with Oz and you won’t win it with any of the other contestants,” said Trump.

The seat opens with the retirement of second-term Republican Senator Pat Toomey and is seen as perhaps the best opportunity for Democrats to land a seat this year in the tightly divided Senate.

Trump’s attacks reflected an 11th-hour behind-the-scenes scramble by Trump allies and rival campaigns to discredit Barnette, even though she campaigned as a supporter of the former president and with promoters of his lies that massive voter fraud cost him a victory in the 2020 election.

Earlier Thursday, Barnette made the rounds with Tory broadcasters, suggesting on “The Water Fountain with David Brody” that Trump is attacking her because he knows she will win.

“Looks like the president knows what’s going to happen next Tuesday,” Barnette said.

She also resumed her campaign attacks on Oz and another candidate, hedge fund CEO David McCormick, criticizing their wealth and questioning their credentials as conservatives.

“We now have the opportunity where people are making their voices heard about what kind of leadership they want – and they don’t want to be spoon-fed by two globalists because so many influencers within the Republican Party are trying to sell us out, they want a real conservative,” Barnette said.

Democrats decide among a four-person panel, including the state’s Lt. Governor-elect John Fetterman, three-term U.S. Representative Conor Lamb and state Representative Malcolm Kenyatta. Fetterman, who comes from the progressive wing of the party, has conducted polls and fundraisers.

Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary had been mostly a costly duel between Oz, best known as a daytime TV host “The Dr. Oz Show”, and McCormick.

Then a surprise Fox News poll released on Monday suggested a close three-way race with Barnette, who, if elected, would be the first black Republican woman to serve in the US Senate.

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

Despite Trump’s attack on Barnette, elements of the party establishment were more accepting of Barnette, acknowledging that many Republican voters weren’t sold on Oz or McCormick.

She has distinguished herself on recent television debates, has a fearless personality and “can seduce people” said a Republican strategist, Vince Galko.

Prior to Thursday, Trump had remained silent on Barnette, attacking only McCormick.

That changed quickly after Barnette’s key endorsements in recent days, which perhaps reflect concerns in some conservative and pro-Trump circles that Oz doesn’t sufficiently reflect their views on abortion, guns, or wars. culture against the Democrats.

The Anti-Tax Growth Club endorsed Barnette on Wednesday and began running TV ads touting her.

A day earlier, anti-abortionist Susan B. Anthony List decided to support Barnette on Oz.

Despite her warning, Trump said Barnette would have his full support if she eventually wins the nomination.

Barnette, Trump said, “has a lot in her past that hasn’t been properly explained or verified, but if she’s able to do that, she’ll have a wonderful future in the Republican Party — and I’ll be behind her all the way.”

Yet Barnette has a history of statements hostile to Muslims and gays, some of them from a Christian-themed blog and radio station she hosted before running for office, speeches she spoke as a Christian activist or on social media.

She also endorsed Doug Mastriano, gubernatorial candidate in the large Republican primary area of ​​Pennsylvania, who is a prominent peddler of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

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