Ten days after a Trafalgar Poll showed Kathy Barnette running an unusually close third in the Republican primary for U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, talk and support have been mounting for the TV commentator whom few — if any — had given a chance against two multimillionaire front-runners.
Last week, Sen. Joni Ernst issued a surprise endorsement for Barnette — one of two women in the six-candidate primary for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey and the only contender who is Black. Iowa Republican Ernst, vice-chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and a conservative stalwart, is considered a promising Republican office-holder.
Other major endorsements are expected to come Barnette's way before the primary May 17.
Trafalgar showed celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, who recently secured Donald Trump's endorsement, leading among likely voters with 22.7%, followed by hedge fund executive David McCormick with 19.7%, and Barnette with 18.4%.
"And those two have each spent at least $18 million of their own money to become known, and I've spent $2 million — almost all of it from small donations," Barnette told Newsmax.
Trump's endorsement of Oz notwithstanding, McCormick, Barnette, and four other Republican hopefuls are all campaigning as strong supporters of the 45th president.
More than one Republican activist from the Keystone State who spoke to Newsmax believes that the increasingly negative media salvos McCormick and Oz have launched against one another have led primary voters to start considering a third candidate.
"They're two A-level candidates and they are beating the c**p out of each other," said one veteran GOP activist from Erie County who requested anonymity. "Both are conservatives, but flunk certain saliva tests. Barnette has attitude and evangelicals, plus a grassroots network that she has cobbled together through two years of hard work in the trenches."
Since losing a bid for Congress to Democrat Rep. Madeleine Dean in 2018, Barnette has been speaking to local Republican committees, churches, and conservative gatherings of any kind. Two weeks ago, following a debate of Republican Senate hopefuls at the annual Pennsylvania Leadership Council (PLC) in Harrisburg, Barnette won the straw vote of the conservative gathering.
"It's completely unclear to me what's happening," said former Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Walker. "The real number that fascinates those of us in the political world is that the polls show about half the voters are undecided. That going to break in some fashion and where it goes no one knows. So can Barnette win? Yes, she can."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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