The still undecided multi-candidate Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary may not have had a best choice but it certainly had a worst candidate: Kathy Barnette. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick are unquestionably awful candidates but from what I can tell neither is certifiably insane. Barnette is. And she won 24.7% of the vote among the 7 candidates, despite the fact that Trump explicitly told his MAGA-zombie followers-- her base-- to not vote for her. She also came in first in 7 counties, including major vote sources like Montgomery, Lancaster and Berks. Fulton County is the reddest hellhole in the state and the county that gave Trump his highest percentage of votes in 2016 (84.09%) and again in 2020 (85.55%). It is also the least vaccinated county in the state (36%), too dangerous for a normal person to visit without a hazmat suit. (In the last 2 weeks, new COVID cases are up 202%.) Barnette was the winner in that particular little MAGA-paradse with 33%, compared to 28% for Oz and 24% for McCormick.
Let's leave strategy aside for now and ask ourselves if we should root for a candidate because Trump is against them? The temptation is clear... but the answer is no. The Trump endorsement "process" is all about Trump and tells us nothing about anything but Trump himself. There are no criteria other than "loyalty" to Trump and to the Big Lie. In some cases, money changes hands, but his endorsement procedure is certainly not about much else.
In Pennsylvania, Trump backed the slightly less reprehensible candidate because his wife persuaded him that housewives would all run out and vote for him. In Idaho's gubernatorial race, Trump supported the (way) more reprehensible candidate, fascist and domestic terrorism supporter Janice McGeachin because Trump got it in his head that the sitting governor, Brad Little, a hard core conservative, has a bad last name for a politician. So who do you vote for... with Idaho secession not on the ballot?
The day after tomorrow, 3 Confederate states have their primaries-- Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia. Trump has endorsed the hard core conservative incumbent, John Boozman, for Senate in Arkansas, although he's running against Jake Bequette a MAGA fascist recruited by former rising MAGA star Madison Cawthorn. Is their anyone to vote for? Too bad the world's biggest ever sinkhole isn't on the ballot.
If there is one state where Trump went all in recruiting and supporting candidates this cycle, it is Georgia, where he's persuaded himself the hard-right GOP establishment prevented him from winning a second term, something with no basis in reality whatsoever. Trump recruited-- and even grudgingly helped finance-- an opponent to Governor Brian Kemp, hapless former Senator David Perdue, who appears to be getting absolutely trounced. Trump also recruited fascist psychopath Jody Hice to run against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Hice also appears to be losing, although there is likely to be a runoff in this race.
Maya King reported that "Hice, a four-term congressman, was one of the 147 House Republicans who voted against certifying the election results for Biden. He later took part in a White House meeting alongside Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene to try to determine how the election results could be flipped in Trump’s favor. He has claimed, falsely, that Trump would have won in Georgia if the election had been 'fair.' At a meeting with the Atlanta Young Republicans on Thursday, Hice made unsupported claims about 'ballot harvesting,' said he no longer wanted to use Dominion Voting machines and slammed Raffensperger for sending out unsolicited absentee ballots ahead of the last election. The voice of the people had been 'violated' in 2020, he said... Many Republicans declared Raffensperger all but defeated as soon as he announced he would run for re-election, citing Trump’s ire and that of many voters. Raffensperger was censured at a state GOP convention last year. But Trump has been unexpectedly quiet about the race, beyond lumping Raffensperger in with Kemp in statements railing against what he calls the RINOs running the state."
Let's hop over the border to Alabama which has an open-seat Senate race with no good candidates but-- unlike Pennsylvania-- where the winner of the GOP primary is also almost guaranteed a fat life in the U.S. Senate. Trump hasn't endorsed anyone but he did unendorse one candidate, his old pal and fellow MAGA nut, Mo Brooks. I guess Brooks is the worst of the 3 top candidates, all of whom are abysmal. But Trump is against him. So where does that leave you when you sit down with your popcorn in front of the TV to watch the returns Tuesday evening?
The two most recent polls-- last week-- show the race fairly close, though with Katie Britt leading both-- Brooks in second place in one and in third place in the other, albeit in a statistical dead heat. As of May 4 self-funder Michael Durant had "raised" the most, $7,332,880 (92.7% self funded), with Katie Britt at $6,821,637 and Mo Brooks at $2,746,910. Various far right SuperPACs have spent large sums savaging each candidate:
Katie Britt- $3,597,520 (also $6,002,667 in support)
Michael Durant- $3,488,725 (also $4,281,633 in support)
Mo Brooks- $4,084,504 (also $2,766,967 in support)
Trip Gabriel reported on the contours of the race this morning. He wrote that "Two months ago, Representative Mo Brooks, whose hard-right credentials were unblemished, seemed to be imploding in the Alabama Republican Senate race. Under a rain of attack ads, polls showed him falling behind two rivals. Trump humiliated Brooks by rescinding an earlier endorsement. But Brooks has staged a compelling comeback, with recent polling putting him in a statistical tie for the lead in a tight three-candidate race ahead of the primary on Tuesday. In a twist of fate, the Brooks bounce-back appears to be driven by voters who identify as 'Trump Republicans'-- another bit of evidence, after recent primaries from Nebraska to Pennsylvania, that the former president’s political movement may no longer be entirely under his command... In 12 years as an arch-conservative in the House, Brooks has bucked party leadership, which won him no fans among Senate Republican leaders. McConnell and his allies would prefer a different replacement for the open seat of Senator Richard Shelby."
“Slowly but surely, conservatives are figuring out I’m the only conservative in this race,” Brooks said in an interview. He called Durant “a John McCain-type of Republican” and Britt “a Mitch McConnell-establishment, open-borders, cheap-foreign-labor, special-interest-group Republican.”
A poker-faced former prosecutor, Brooks nonetheless seemed to savor, at a couple of campaign appearances on Friday, his comeback from March, when he was polling in the teens and Trump abandoned him. The former president accused Brooks of having gone “woke” because he had urged a crowd, months earlier, to put the 2020 election “behind you.”
Brooks, 68, “is the least woke person in the state of Alabama,” said Terry Lathan, a former chair of the Alabama Republican Party, who is a co-chair of the Brooks campaign.
In style and experience, there are strong differences between the stolid Brooks and the energetic Britt, a lawyer whose first digital ad featured her marriage to Wesley Britt, a former University of Alabama football star-- no small credential in a state where the other senator, Tommy Tuberville, is a former Auburn University football coach. Britt, 40, presents herself as a committed social conservative. Campaign ads feature her calling to get “kids and God back in the classroom” and, while striding through a girls’ locker room, accusing “crazy liberals” of wanting to let boys in.
A poll on Thursday for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television showed likely voters who identified as “traditional conservative Republicans” favored Britt and Durant over Brooks.
But Brooks won the support of a plurality of voters who identified as “Trump Republicans”-- 35 percent, up from 26 percent in an earlier survey.
...The anti-tax Club for Growth, which supports Brooks, has spent $6 million in the state on ads, including one barraging Britt-- the former head of an Alabama business group-- as “really a lobbyist” who supported a state gas tax increase. One ad flashes a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. in 2021-- back when his father still liked Brooks-- calling Britt “the Alabama Liz Cheney.”
The share of voters with a favorable view of Britt dropped six points in the recent Alabama Daily News poll, compared with a survey in early May.
Brooks, already a known quantity, better withstood attacks and is slightly above water in terms of favorable and unfavorable opinions with voters.
...It is Durant, a former Army pilot who figured in the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia, who seems most battered-- and most upset-- by the blasts of negativity on the airwaves. In March, he was leading in polls. Now he is struggling to make it into a runoff, after being accused of weakness on gun rights and fighting off a false claim that he doesn’t live in Alabama.
In politics, “the only thing that matters is how much money you’ve got and how low you’re willing to go,” he said with disgust on Friday. “It’s very, very disturbing. I hope it will backfire.” [Reminder: he's the delusional multimillion dollar self-funder.]
Brooks’s time in the barrel took place in the spring. A super PAC favoring Britt, Alabama’s Future, dredged up clips of the congressman disparaging Trump in 2016. “I don’t think you can trust Donald Trump with anything he says,” Brooks said back then. Another outside group, calling itself No More Mo, ran an ad in the Florida media market that includes Mar-a-Lago, which blared that Brooks was “a proven loser” and “Trump deserves winners.”
Trump withdrew his endorsement of Brooks shortly after.
His stated reason was that Brooks had gone wobbly on election denialism by urging voters to focus on future races. Brooks revealed in response that Trump had pressed him for months after Jan. 6 to illegally “rescind” the 2020 election and to remove President Biden, and that he told Trump it was impossible under the Constitution.
Despite the Trumpian snub, Brooks continues to falsely maintain that the election was stolen from the former president, a view widely held by Alabama Republicans.
On May 12, Brooks was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the violence on Jan. 6, 2021. On that date, Brooks, wearing body armor, had asked the roiling crowd of Trump supporters gathered near the White House, “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?” Cheers erupted. He went on: “Will you fight for America?” Not long after, the protest became a riot and the Capitol was breached.