High-Profile Republicans Split on Pennsylvania Senate Primary

In the week leading up to Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Kathy Barnette was flying high. So were her endorsers. 

“It’s a one-woman race and I have just—I appreciate Kathy so much, and I’ve been with her for months now,” Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said last week of Barnette, who experienced an unexpected polling surge last week in the Republican primary battle for retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat. Before last week, Barnette had spent the entirety of the race with single-digit support from voters.

But last week’s polling-induced adrenaline rush didn’t last long. In a matter of days, reporters quickly uncovered photos of her marching alongside the right-wing Proud Boys group on the morning of January 6, 2021 (though no evidence suggests she breached the Capitol), and a series of anti-Muslim and tweets she wrote several years ago. “We must stop interacting with them as if they r rational human beings. There is nothing rational about Islam,” she tweeted in 2015. “Obama is a Muslim. Doing Muslim like THINGS!” she wrote in 2016. 

Days after the reports surfaced, Ernst didn’t seem as bullish on Barnette’s chances as she did last week. “We’ll see how it plays tomorrow, won’t we?” Ernst, the vice chair of the Republican Senate conference, told The Dispatch Monday evening when asked about the reports. 

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