It’s Primary Night in Pennsylvania, and All Hell Is Set to Break Loose

We are back at the congressional midterm elections, with major primary votes in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Kentucky, Idaho, Oregon, and Idaho. Lovers of shamefulness and schadenfreude will tune in to North Carolina where scandal-factory Madison Cawthorn can be found out. just how fed upHis fellow Republicans are supportive of his actions. Cawthorn’s defeat tonight would mean one less incoherent fascist in the House, another fine haircut down in the ditch of history.

We will however stick to Pennsylvania, the Keystone state, for our purposes. It is where a wild, Trump-lathered primary season has finally ended. Pennsylvania is the best bowl of national tea leaves out of all the states that are up for grabs tonight. “The results will help clarify the mood of the country,” opines The New York Times. “Pennsylvania, a longtime swing state, has often signaled what American voters are thinking.”

Tonight’s outcome in Pennsylvania will reveal a lot more about the current dispositions of the Republican Party and, by proxy, Donald Trump. Given the outsized influence Trump has over the GOP, what happens in Pennsylvania won’t stay in Pennsylvania. Particularly, the Senate race is a perfect example of Trump-ridden Republican politics.

Three candidates face off tonight — celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, businessman David McCormick, and late-surging Kathy Barnette, a far-right commentator who has espoused anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ sentiments. Oz holds a slim lead in the latest polls, but Barnette has pulled off the electoral version of a ten-run rally in the ninth inning and is nipping at Oz’s heels. McCormick is slightly ahead in third. With 15% of voters still undecided however, anything can happen.

Trump chose Oz to endorse due in no small part because of all things celebrity to the dismay of most election-savvy traditional Republicans. Oz was a Democrat 45 seconds ago. He is now on record expressing views that make the average GOP primary voter want a tree. McCormick the CEO seemed the obvious choice for Trump’s endorsement, but Trump went with the TV guy insteadYou have it.

Before Barnette, the race was already wild. Barnette announced recently that her mother, Barnette, survived rape at the age of 11 and gave birth at the age of 12. This was a revelation that resonated deeply among a Republican base that is growing more opposed to allowing exceptions for rape or incest within their draconian abortifacient bans.

The drama surrounding Barnette’s campaign only deepens when you see who’s in her corner: The extreme right Club for Growth, an organization Trump has had favorable dealings with in the past. The Club supported Barnette in Pennsylvania two weeks ago. They are gambling that Trump’s influence in the party is on the wane, and are jockeying for the catbird seat in a post-Trump political landscape. Trump, on his part, is reportedly raging about the Club being “disloyal.”

The Club isn’t slowing down. “We’d love to partner with [Trump],” Club board member Frayda Levin told The Washington Post, “but sometimes we disagree; it’s that simple. No one can explain Trump’s relationships, nor can his five ex-wives or whatever. You can quote me on that.”

Barnette is not a shrinking violet in this clash. Barnette responds to critics who believe she cannot win November. declared, “I lost by 19 points [in her 2020 congressional race]Donald Trump lost more than 26 points [in Pennsylvania’s last presidential vote]. Who’s less electable with those numbers?” Yeah, that’ll leave a mark.

Trump friends and foes alike are staring hard at this race tonight, as the outcome — and Trump’s perceived clout — will resonate in virtually every other state’s primary to come. Worse for the GOP if Trump’s picks lose will be if some of his goofier picks actually pull off a victory; seats the GOP could have for the asking would suddenly be a towering challenge to win.

Pennsylvania is the perfect place to see this phenomenon. The GOP primary winner will likely face Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman will face Democratic Lt. He is expected to recover but the health question could make this seat easier for the GOP than others unless they nominate someone such as Oz, who was booed at a Trump rally. This is not a good sign for general election GOP participation in the state.

I have always been averse to midterm congressional elections. Chalk it up to 1994, when the GOP — led by Newt Gingrich and his balderdashian “Contract for America” — picked up a whopping 54 House seats, taking majority control of that chamber for the first time in 40 years. In that election, the GOP also won the Senate, giving it complete control of Congress.

A day after the election, on my damn birthday in fact, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby abandoned the Democrats for the Republicans, increasing the GOP’s majority control in the Senate. Gingrich was elected House speaker, and we began our long descent into the current national crisis.

It was a terrible day.

I want to love the midterms. Every House seat is up for vote every two years and every Senate spot is up for vote every six years. However the electoral dynamic during presidential terms profoundly inflates turnout which can make the results more predictable. This is not the case with midterms. The historically low turnout for these elections means that almost anything can and does occur, depending on which base it is.

These elections saw some true right-wingers gain entry to Congress. But, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and many others from the Squad, also gained access to Congress through a midterm. Midterms are low-turnout and base-driven, so they can alter the dynamics of the legislative branch like no other elections.

Regardless of my feelings about midterms, I am an all-day sucker for primaries, and this here before us could be called “Midterm Super Tuesday.” Thanks to the shabby, money-flooded way we do elections in this country, primary elections are the last, best place a voter can really throw weight and have their decision matter. It’s all a big TV show once the general elections start, but primaries are where you can really shake the tree.

This is an example: Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic nomination for President twice in a row, but won enough primaries during his campaigns to change the party forever. People who vote in primaries can make a difference in this crazy world in unexpected ways.

Let’s see what happens next.