Open Senate seats in neighboring states Ohio and Pennsylvania are creating political frenzies among Republicans in both. If Ohio's hapless Democrats nominate the Chuck Schumer-handpicked candidate, uninspiring centrist Tim Ryan, the GOP primary winner can start the redecorating process for his or her new Capitol Hill office. Schumer is trying the same kind of thing in Pennsylvania-- with right of center corporate shill Conor Lamb, but failing. Still, Republicans in the Keystone State, like Ohio Republicans, are in battling each other the way fratricidal wars often go: to the death. So far the Ohio and Pennsylvania Republican Party primaries are the two dirtiest and ugliest electoral battles in the nation's 2022 cycle.
Yesterday, CNN reported that hedge-fund fake-MAGA David McCormick is accusing TV-doctor and fake-MAGA Mehmet Oz or being loyal to Turkey first not America first or, at least, of split loyalties, while Oz accuses McCormick of being in bed with China. At this rate, by the May 17 primary neither of the incredibly mediocre candidates will be electable and also ran Jeff Bartos could slip into the nomination, exactly what the Democrats are hoping happens.
Both candidates have flooded the airwaves with television ads in the first weeks of their campaigns, spending a combined more than $10 million to overwhelm primary voters with their messages. Super PACs supporting Republican candidates have chipped in an additional $3 million total. And another Republican candidate, former US ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands, has also spent more than $2 million on ads so far.
...[H]anging over the whole primary is the contest over who can appeal most to the pro-Trump Republican voters. That's forced candidates to try to align-- or in some cases, realign-- themselves with the GOP base on issues like the validity of the 2020 election and being tough on China.
...[N]egative ads indicate where the primary is headed. Groups supporting McCormick have already hit Oz with claims he is a "Hollywood liberal" who supported Obamacare, while the Oz campaign aired an ad warning voters about McCormick's financial investments in China to the sound of a banging gong.
"McCormick: China's friend, not ours," said the ad's narrator.
Asked to respond to the ad, a spokeswoman for McCormick's campaign called into question his opponent's own loyalties.
"Mehmet Oz-- citizen of Turkey, creature of Hollywood-- has spent the last 20 years making his fortune from syndicating his show in China, enriching itself through censorship and CCP propaganda," said Jess Szymanski, referring to the Chinese Communist Party. "While Mehmet has been silent on China until he needed to knock down Dave's credentials, Dave was serving our country and standing up to the CCP."
Syzmanski continued, "How can he claim to be America First when he has dual loyalties?"
Brittany Yanick, Oz's spokeswoman, called that a "disgusting attack."
"He maintains his dual citizenship to oversee the care of mother, who has Alzheimer's," Yanick said. "McCormick knows this and the attack on a son standing with his mother has no place in public discourse. McCormick should be ashamed of himself."
Looking to benefit from the crossfire are the other Republicans running-- including Sands and Jeff Bartos, the party's 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor. Bartos has made his background-- and Oz and McCormick's recent moves back to the state from the greater New York City area, where Oz produced his TV show and McCormick ran his hedge fund-- a primary issue, helping him win some straw polls of party activists.
Bartos told CNN that his "grassroots army" will help him defeat his deep pocket opponents, whom he calls "political tourists" compared to himself, "the only lifelong Pennsylvanian in the race."
"They're running around the state. They're taking Instagram photos and little videos. They're almost, if you will, collecting a scrapbook of where they're visiting," said Bartos. "I've been traveling the state for five years. I've been actually on Main Street, sleeves rolled up, trying to save small businesses."
Charlie Dent, the former Pennsylvania congressman and a CNN contributor, said the "big battle" between the three "self-funders"-- McCormick, Oz and Sands-- "might make it easier for Bartos to break through a little bit."
One dividing line in GOP primaries across the country is whether the candidates embrace Trump's false claim that Democrats stole the 2020 election through widespread fraud. Trump has endorsed candidates from local offices to the US Senate who have undermined faith in Biden's victory.
While all the Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidates run on what they perceive as Biden's failed record on nearly everything, they haven't all firmly acknowledged his election was valid. Bartos told CNN, "I believe Joe Biden won Pennsylvania and won the presidency."
But Oz and McCormick have so far dodged the question, saying that Biden is president without explicitly stating that he was legitimately elected.
The GOP primary in Ohio has turned even more toxic. Thursday night, one of the candidates, sleazy rich car salesman Bernie Moreno-- who had already self-funded to the tune of $3,750,000 and spent $4,715,168 (more than any other candidate other than fellow also-ran Mike Gibbons) and had bought endorsements from Kellyanne Conway and Katrina Pierson-- dropped out of the race, after Trump told him to. Moreno says he'll support whomever Trump decides to endorse. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that "Trump issued a statement praising Moreno, his campaign effort and his 'wonderful family.' Moreno’s daughter and campaign manager, Emily Moreno, is a former Trump political aide, and is engaged to Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who is running for Congress for a Cleveland-area seat. 'His decision will help ensure the MAGA Ticket wins BIG, as it is all over the Country,' Trump said in his statement."
There are 5 Republicans left who had raised over a million dollars by the end of 2021:
Mike Gibbons- $12,146,527
Matt Dolan- $10,851,390
Jane Timken- $6,918,958
Josh Mandel- $2,116,005
JD Vance- $1,607,587
(Most Vance and Mandel money is being collected by legally-questionable SuperPACs and those numbers don't show up in these totals.)
The primary has been mostly (90%) an attempt to get Trump's endorsement, since all of the candidates seem to agree that Republican primary voters in Ohio have an average IQ of 70 and will vote for whomever Trump tells them to vote for. And the Daily Beast addressed that this morning-- not the pathetic state of Ohio GOP voters' lack of intelligence, but the reasons why Trump hasn't endorsed yet. The most MAGA-crazed candidate is Josh Mandel, who has also been leading in nearly every poll, most of which are corrupted Republican firms that report results they are paid to report. There have been no legitimate polls in the race so far. The most recent poll (Feb 2)-- commissioned by Mandel's campaign-- is from WPA Intelligence:
Asawin Suebsaeng and Jackie Kucinich reported that the competition for Trump's endorsement is Hunger Games-esque but that Señor Trumpanzee "has steadfastly refused to pick a favorite and intervene in the intra-party battle, even though the candidates-- including the once-clear frontrunner Josh Mandel-- have campaigned as if they were overtly simpering parodies of Trumpism." Vance's sponsor, Nazi billionaire Peter Thiel, who put $10 million into Vance's campaign and has offered Trump a million dollars for an endorsement for his weak candidate. Many people who know Trump and how he makes his 100% narcissistic decisions, assume Trump will eventually accept Thiel's offer, but...
There are a few key reasons why the twice-impeached former president hasn’t yet endorsed [the trans-obsessed] Mandel or anybody else in that race. One reason for the hold-up is that Trump-- who has long been addicted to dishing tabloid-style gossip and dirt-- has for months told people close to him that he thinks Mandel is a charisma-free weirdo and dork, according to three sources who’ve spoken to Trump about Mandel and the Ohio contest since last year.
In recent months, these sources said, the onetime leader of the free world has even spent an inordinate amount of time gossiping with a large array of advisers and close associates about unconfirmed details of Mandel’s sex life. Trump has privately regurgitated, often in disgust, a wide range of unverified, often completely unvetted, and lurid rumors about the MAGA candidate.
The salacious gossip has frequently found its way to Mar-a-Lago [thanks in great part to Thiel], and wherever else Trump and his political orbit roam, because Republicans opposed to Mandel have actively pushed rumors to Trump, Ohio political circles, and reporters at major news outlets, the sources independently said.
“The [former] president has used the term ‘fucking weird’ to describe Josh Mandel more than once, when I have spoken to him about” Mandel, one of the people said. “He has talked about [Mandel] and sex in the same sentence more times than I would have liked to hear.”
The other two sources, both of whom requested anonymity in order to talk about private discussions, corroborated accounts of the ex-president’s newly acquired interest in the alleged details of Mandel’s sex life or personal ongoings. Those sources relayed that Trump had also told them some combination of the following:
Mandel doesn’t have the right “visuals” or “look,” and could come off poorly on TV. Having met with and talked to Mandel, Trump felt there was just something about Mandel and his personality that rubbed him the wrong way. Also, the former president and current leader of the Republican Party has sensed a conspicuous dearth of “charisma” coming from this particular GOP Senate hopeful.
Thiel has already bought an endorsement for Vance from loud-mouthed and influential QAnon Republican Marjorie Traitor Greene, which usually means Madison Cawthorn, sex trafficker Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert can't be far behind.