This far-right, anti-gay Islamophobe is gaining on Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania — and Trump is worried

This far-right, anti-gay Islamophobe is gaining on Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania — and Trump is worried
Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2015, Wikimedia Commons

This Tuesday, May 17, two major GOP primary elections will be held in Pennsylvania: one for governor, one for the U.S. Senate seat presently held by conservative Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who isn’t seeking reelection. And in the Senate primary, an unexpected development has been the last-minute surge of far-right candidate Kathy Barnette — who, according to polls, is now within striking distance of the frontrunner, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Oz, who, in the past, was a moderate conservative along the lines of the late Sen. John McCain and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge but is now jumping through hoops to show how MAGA he is — including railing against Dr. Anthony Fauci in his buffoonish ads. Barnette, however, is claiming that Oz is really a liberal in disguise and that she is the true MAGA Republican in the primary. And that messaging may be working with Republican primary voters; a Fox News poll released on Tuesday, May 10 found Oz only 3% ahead of Barnette and 2% ahead of candidate David McCormick.

As ultra-MAGA as Barnette is, her last-minute surge is not news that everyone in Trumpworld is welcoming. Trump himself, in a statement, described Barnette as unelectable, saying, “Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the general election against the radical left Democrats.”

Reporting in the Daily Beast, journalists Will Sommer, Sam Brodey and Justin Baragona observe, “McCormick and Trump-endorsed Oz weren’t the only ones startled by Barnette’s sudden rise. Sean Hannity took time on his show to slam her attacks on Muslims, including her claim that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Newsmax’s Greg Kelly called her a ‘race card-playing scammer.’ Former Trump Acting Intelligence Director Ric Grenell called her ‘unfit for office,’ highlighting a 2015 tweet in which Barnette said ‘pedophilia is a cornerstone of Islam.’ Pro-Trump accounts have circulated a misleadingly edited video meant to portray Barnette, who is Black, as a radical Black Lives Matter supporter.”

Barnette is far from a Black Lives Matter supporter. Her politics are ultra-MAGA, and she is a far-right conspiracy theorist who has promoted QAnon’s wacky beliefs, falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, railed against gays and made hateful anti-Islam claims.

In a Facebook video posted in late December 2020, Barnette called for Trump supporters to use a “sword” on January 6, 2021. Barnette has a lot in common with Infowars’ Alex Jones, but little or nothing in common with Black Lives Matter.

When Barnette lost to Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean by double digits in Pennsylvania, she refused to concede and claimed — with zero proof — that the election was stolen from her.

Barnette is also an anti-abortion zealot who opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and she is even campaigning on rape victims being denied access to abortion if they become pregnant. In a debate with Oz and others, Barnette said she was “the byproduct of a rape” — adding, “My mother was 11 years old when I was conceived, my father was 21.”

The Fox News poll was not an outlier. A Trafalgar Group poll found Barnette trailing Oz by only 2%.

Like Oz, Barnette lives in Montgomery County in the Philadelphia suburbs.

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