GOP “Summer of Worry”: Infighting and Conspiracy Theories Consume Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate Primary

Republican Insiders Worried “Candidates Might Blow It”

A series of recent reports detailed how messy infighting and a wholehearted embrace of baseless conspiracy theories has consumed Pennsylvania’s “train-wreck” Republican Senate primary––and GOP insiders are now worried that the weak field “might blow it”:

  • City & State detailed how failed Lieutenant Governor candidate Jeff Bartos and failed congressional candidate Sean Parnell are “exchanging verbal blows in an attempt to pin their opponent as less conservative and anti-Trump” in a desperate bid to “appeal to Trump’s base and gain an endorsement.”
  • An extensive Philadelphia Inquirer report outlined how another failed congressional candidate, Kathy Barnette –– who led the primary field in Q2 fundraising –– and her delusional “hunt for voter fraud” has “made her a GOP contender for Senate in Pennsylvania.” And while Barnette may be the loudest election conspiracy theorist, the entire Republican field has backed baseless calls for an election audit as they try to use their loyalty to Trump’s lies as selling points for their campaigns.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported that a “rocky July” has party insiders concerned that “their candidates might blow it.” Weak fundraising and a lack of marquee candidates are troubling local GOP strategists who know that the “strength of individual candidates” makes a critical difference in this highly competitive battleground state.

Read more about Pennsylvania Republicans’ “summer of worry”:

City & State: Two Republicans seeking Senate seat trade jabs for Trump’s endorsement

  • In the battle over the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, Jeff Bartos and Sean Parnell are exchanging verbal blows in an attempt to pin their opponent as less conservative and anti-Trump.
  • In a crowded primary field, the two have been grappling with each other over previous tweets expressing support for Democrats and criticizing Trump. Parnell’s team came at Bartos for previously donating to Democrat campaigns, and for his experience working under the Clinton administration. Bartos’ team, in response, called out Parnell for old tweets chastising Trump, and for times he “sided with liberals.”
  • Many Republican candidates are attempting to appeal to Trump’s base and gain an endorsement ahead of the crucial 2022 election. 

Philadelphia Inquirer: The Hunt

  • As Barnette energized the denial movement with her futile hunt for voter fraud on Philadelphia’s Main Line, which hasn’t been previously reported, the movement elevated her.
  • She’s now running in Pennsylvania’s critical 2022 Senate race, raising more money than better-known opponents. She’s become a familiar face in the MAGA media universe, with regular appearances on Newsmax and OAN. She even got an endorsement from Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who’s become an icon on the pro-Trump right.
  • Barnette’s hunt shows how deep the election fervor runs in Republican politics, and how entangled it is with other movements like QAnon. It also reflects what researchers call a growing problem: the proliferation of misleading or outright bogus statistics used to manipulate public opinion, a kind of faux professionalization of election denial.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. Republicans see a big opportunity in 2022. But some are worried their candidates might blow it.

  •  It’s a summer of worry for some Pennsylvania Republicans.
  • A rocky July has increased concern among some party insiders that they’re lacking marquee candidates for critical statewide races next year.
  • Meanwhile, in the state’s critical 2022 U.S. Senate race, fund-raising reports this month showed the leading GOP contenders all lagging behind the top Democrats. None of the major Republican Senate candidates has ever won elected office, a stark contrast with the emerging Democratic field that includes an array of well-established officeholders.
  • The early stages of the two races have some in the party’s establishment wing worried the GOP could blow a golden opportunity in 2022.
  • In a state as closely divided as Pennsylvania, the strength of individual candidates can make a difference in races that could come down to a few percentage points.
  • The two most prominent candidates, Montgomery County real estate developer Jeff Bartos and Allegheny County former Army ranger Sean Parnell, failed to reach $600,000 in fund-raising during the period covering April, May, and June. They were outdone by a lesser-known candidate, conservative commentator Kathy Barnette (though Bartos added $440,000 of his own money to boost his campaign fund, and raised far more earlier in the race).
  • Donations are often used as an early measure of whether candidates can appeal to political diehards.


Next Post

ICYMI: Mar-a-Lago primary: Trump wields power with endorsements, but some in GOP fear midterm damage [Los Angeles Times]

Stay Connected

ICYMI: Trump endorsements jolt GOP races [POLITICO]

3 days Ago

Every single Senate Republican voted against the game-changing tax cut for families of up to $300 per month per chi…

1 hr ago on Twitter


Defend Our Democratic
Senate Majority