The Senate race in Pennsylvania is one of the most important of the year, and leading candidates Mehmet Oz and David McCormick have spent tens of millions on their rival campaigns. Surging late, however, is Republican Kathy Barnette, who has spent only a fraction of what her competitors have devoted to the race. Barnette is instead benefitting from a surprising admission that has won her the support of pro-life conservatives disappointed with the other options.
Pro-life candidate surges
Barnette told Fox News that, while she condemns the leak, she is pleased that the Supreme Court’s latest abortion stance has drawn so much attention to the issue.
During a recent debate she elaborated on her commitment to the pro-life movement, revealing that she is a “byproduct of rape” and that her mother was only 11-years-old when that rape took place.
That story, along with a strong overall debate performance, has allowed Barnette to close the distance between herself and the two frontrunners.
Now Barnette, Oz, and McCormick are all effectively in a three-way tie for first according to the polls. Oz may still have a slight advantage, but the nomination could easily go to any of the three in the primary.
This is in spite of the fact that Oz and McCormick have had enormous budgets and intimidating lists of endorsements to draw from.
The two men have been focused on relentlessly attacking each other for much of the race, and their rivalry has created a perfect opportunity for a last minute surge from one of the other candidates.
PA race in a three-way tie
Barnette is closely allied with gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who has become a frontrunner in his own race and is campaigning on a similar platform.
Life, Barnette thinks, should be central to that platform. Expected Democratic nominee John Fetterman is a pro-abortion hardliner within his own party, and the topic will be a major issue in the general election.
Oz and McCormick are campaigning as pro-life candidates as well, but neither has an extensive record of supporting pro-life causes and Oz was supporting abortion as recently as 2019.
Inflation was expected to be at the center of the midterm elections, but the leaked opinion has forced a national debate over abortion that will draw intense scrutiny to every candidate’s stances.
Barnette’s story and her strong stance on the issue could be important assets in a race against a Democrat who enthusiastically supports abortion.
In a race against Fetterman she would be well placed to convince moderate Pennsylvania voters that her opponent is the real extremist when it comes to abortion.