Nebraska pig farmer Jim Pillen is the stark-raving mad far right ideologue who won the GOP nomination-- tantamount to the election-- for the Nebraska gubernatorial race. No one is further right than he is... but at least he isn't a serial groper and at least he didn't help plan the Jan 6 coup. Yep, Trump's millionaire psychopath candidate Charles Herbster lost last night.
Jim Pillen- 88,569 (33.9%)
Charles Herbster- 79,068 (30.2%)
Brett Lindstrom- 67,375 (25.8%)
Theresa Thibodeau- 15,861 (6.1%)
Lindstrom is a mainstream conservative. The other 3 are part of the "new GOP"-- basically a fascist party. Nice that Trump lost; not nice that Pillen won.
Next Tuesday there are primaries in North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania, as well as in Idaho and Kentucky. Everyone is asking what last night's results in Nebraska say about the May 17 races. I'd say not much at all. Dr. Oz has been counting on Trump's odd endorsement of him and Herbster's defeat shows that Trump's endorsement isn't necessarily enough. In fact, the media has been buzzing about another Trumpist candidate-- far to the right of Oz-- who Trump overlooked, Kathy Barnette.
Barnette, a crackpot, has been considered an also-ran who would come in behind front-runners out-of-state oligarchs Oz and McCormick. But the Real Clear Politics spread now shows her beating McCormick and catching up with Oz, the Trump-endorsed candidate:
Memet Oz- 23.3%
Kathy Barnette- 21.0%
David McCormick- 20.3%
Carla Sands- 6.7%
Jeff Bartos- 6.3%
CNN reported this morning that Barnette is firmly in the mix headed down the home stretch, with her supporters saying Trump made a mistake when he backed Oz. Dan Merica wrote that when Señor Trumpanzee endorsed Oz, "it opened a pathway for Barnette to run further to the right, and more in line with the 'MAGA movement' than any of her primary opponents. 'As much as people support Trump, hey, he ain't God,' said Gary Smith, chair for the Constitutional Republicans of Western Pennsylvania in Jefferson County who personally plans to vote for Barnette. 'He made a mistake. I think it is one of the worst mistakes he has made in his endorsements because Oz is everything we are not.' Smith added: 'This is Trump country. A year later, all the signs are still up. ... But I would say right now, 90 some percent of our group is probably going to vote for her.'"
This week, 3 proto-fascist groups came in heavily for Barnette, the Susan B. Anthony List SuperPAC, Club for Growth and CatholicVote. In fact, this morning, the NY Times' Shane Goldmacher reported that Club for Growth is spending $2 million on TV ads boosting Barnette's shoestring campaign. As of the April 27 reporting deadline Barnette was barely a blip on the fundraising radar:
Dave McCormick (R)- $15,915,575- 69.1% self-funded
John Fetterman (D)- $15,876,594
Mehmet Oz (R)- $15,071,813- 80% self-funded
Conor Lamb (D)- $6,069,256
Carla Sands (R)- $4,641,698- 84% self-funded
Jeff Bartos (R)- $2,213,745
Malcolm Kenyatta (D)- $1,894,227
Kathy Barnette (R)- $1,731,937
Meanwhile massive amounts of money has been spent by independent groups, particularly $17,993,544 against Oz, $4,260,064 against McCormick, $3,065,441 in favor of McCormick and $852,867 in favor of Oz. Four shady Republican SuperPACs have been responsible for all this money-- Honor Pennsylvania (more an arm of McCormick's campaign than a legitimate independent group-- $17,190,605), American Leadership Action ($4,505,864), Pennsylvania Conservative Fund ($3,408,830) and Jobs For Our Future PAC ($2,200,892).
Goldmacher pointed out that the ads Club for Growth is buying are costing "more than 10 times what Barnette’s campaign had spent in total on television to date." That's still dwarfed by the money being spent on ads on behalf of Oz and McCormick this week.
The most radical gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, neo-fascist Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, the primary frontrunner (and November sure loser), has endorsed Barnette and she has reciprocated and the two extremists have been campaigning together.
[S]he has run an unabashedly hard-right campaign, attacking her better-funded rivals as “globalists” on the debate stage and questioning their commitment to gun rights and the anti-abortion movement.
“I am the byproduct of a rape,” she said in one debate, challenging Oz about his past positions on abortion. “My mother was 11 years old when I was conceived. My father was 21. I was not just a lump of cells.”
The Club for Growth has not formally endorsed Barnette, which makes the group’s late intervention all the more politically intriguing. The group did not respond to requests for comment.
The group noisily sparred with Trump in the Ohio Senate primary. The Club for Growth, which backed Josh Mandel, continued to attack J.D. Vance, the eventual winner, even after Vance won Trump’s endorsement.
Its continued assault on Vance angered both Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., who attacked the Club for Growth on the campaign trail. And Vance made clear he was still bitter about all the attacks, calling out the Club by name in his victory speech even as he praised his rivals for their efforts.
The Club for Growth and Trump are allied in another Senate race next Tuesday, in North Carolina, where both are backing Representative Ted Budd against former Gov. Pat McCrory.
Merica wrote that Barnette "has routinely accused Oz and McCormick of being fake conservatives who, to win a Senate seat, moved to Pennsylvania for the primary. Both top Republicans have roundly been accused of being carpetbaggers: Oz, until recently, lived in New Jersey, and McCormick used to reside in Connecticut. The strategy has clearly gotten under their skin-- especially Oz. At a March forum, Barnette was persistent in her attacks of Oz, charging that the race was 'not a talk show' and that Pennsylvania voters 'need people who understand what the issues are and who don't simply sit in a room, learn our talking points, and then come back and parrot them to us.' She went on to argue that Oz spent his entire career trying to be a 'liberal working beside Oprah and Michelle Obama.' Oz erupted at the comment, given the rules of the forum stipulated candidates were not supposed to attack each other. Oz, trying to turn the situation on Barnette, used his closing to ask, 'You should all ask yourselves, why is everyone attacking me?' Barnette, undeterred, interrupted: 'Because you are a liberal.'"
It's that combativeness-- something that many Trump supporters associate with the former President-- that has won over many of Pennsylvania's most conservative voters, along with the desire to show up.
"She came across as the real deal," said Donna DePue, vice president of the Wyoming County Council of Republican Women, a group Barnette spoke to in late April.
Barnette's campaign, her supporters say, has exposed a lack of base excitement for either Oz or McCormick, an issue that was exacerbated by Trump's decision to-- wrongfully, in their eyes-- back the TV doctor.