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Houck Arrest ‘Just the Beginning,’ Pro-Life Protesters Warn

Supporters of anti-abortion activist Mark Houck, taken by FBI agents from his Bucks County home last month, turned out Friday outside the U.S. Attorney’s office to protest his arrest and warn the public:

Houck’s arrest was just the beginning of the Biden administration’s targeting of pro-life Americans.

Houck, 48, of Kinternsville, was charged with violating the federal Freedom of Access of Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) regarding an October 2021 incident outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia. Despite local authorities declining to prosecute, and a private legal action that was also rejected, the Department of Justice chose to arrest Houck and pursue the case.

On Sept. 23, numerous armed FBI agents stormed the Houck’s home, frightening his seven children and wife, Ryan-Marie, even though his lawyers had informed the Department of Justice he was willing to turn himself in, said Peter Breen with the Thomas More Society who represents Houck.

Ashley Garecht, who has prayed outside the clinic in the past, told the 100 or so people who gathered Friday, “Mark has stood in front of that facility for years. He has prayed and counseled often in the face of vile harassment…Sadly this storyline fits all too well in Philadelphia.”

And, she noted, they were just a block away from where President Joe Biden gave his controversial speech about American extremism. Bathed in blood-red lighting and with Marines behind him, Biden spoke ominously about “MAGA forces”  that he called a threat to “the very foundations of our republic” and who are actively working to “undermine democracy itself.” Garecht pointed out Biden included prof-lifers in his remarks as well.

“President Biden made his intentions toward the pro-life community crustal clear in his alarming and malevolent speech in front of Independence Hall,” Garecht said. “Shame on him.”

 

 

In a video message released by the Thomas More Society, Breen echoed the message that Houck’s arrest is part of a larger agenda.

“Right here, right now, this is the first big case from the [Biden administration] DOJ,” Breen said. “Let’s beat the DOJ, beat them soundly in a public case that everyone’s following. And then Lord willing, you’ll have Merrick Garland, the Attorney General of the United States, called in front of Congress, to answer those tough questions: Why did you put the health family in such danger? Why are you prosecuting this peaceful man for what is at worst, a local matter at best to local matter?

“And I hope that at that point we will be finished with our trial and we’ll have gotten a not guilty verdict.”

Prominent anti-abortion activist and Fox commentator Kathy Barnette, a candidate in the GOP U.S. Senate primary earlier this year, told the crowd she thought long and hard about whether she should speak because it might lead to the government targeting her.

“What does it say about a nation who would look at the most innocent people and say, ‘You don’t matter. You don’t count?’ And then weaponize the government to intimidate those who understand that that is a life,” Barnette said.

“It is going to cost us from this point forward to say there is such a thing as truth. And I am going to stand and not cower. Ten years ago it would not have cost us what it will cost now,” she added.

Speaker after speaker called on the crowd to pray and at the end of the hour-long protest, most of those present kneeled on the hard sidewalk and prayed the “Our Father.”  Some of the speakers also told the protesters to be sure to vote in November.

Houck’s mother-in-law, Kathleen McCarthy, who also lives in Bucks County, came to the protest, along with some of Ryan-Marie’s eleven siblings.

Asked by Delaware Valley Journal how the Houck family is handling events, McCarthy said, “I will tell you God’s grace is always sufficient. They are trying to bring back what they have built all their married life, a home filled with peace, strength, and grace. And one day at a time.”

Talk radio Host Dom Giordano reminded the crowd Houck is represented by Brian J. McMonagle, “the number one defense attorney in Philadelphia.” And while this case is about the Houck family, Giordano said he hopes the “FBI agents who don’t agree with this stuff do everything in their power to slow down this weaponization against average Americans exercising their rights.”

Giordano noted the irony of Houck’s home “being raided by the FBI with that amount of force while violence and criminal behavior in Philadelphia is out of control.

“In a way, Mark Houck is doing a service not just for those potential kids at the abortion clinic. He’s doing a service for every one of us here.”

Among the protesters was Terrisa Bukovinac carrying a sign that said she is atheist, progressive, and anti-abortion. A Washington, D.C. resident, she started the nonprofit Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising after heading a similar group in San Francisco.

Many Democrats agree that some restrictions are needed on late-term abortion, she said. “There is a lot of common ground.”

And protester Liz Madden of Radnor said she felt compelled to protest after that township passed an ordinance forbidding police to investigate abortion providers, which could result in another Kermit Gosnell, she said, referring to the infamous Philadelphia abortion provider now serving 30 years in prison for serial murder.

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PA Voters Picking Candidates For U.S. Senate

Pennslyvania’s hotly-contested U.S. Senate race has gotten notice from pundits around the country, but the final decision will be up to voters in places like the Delaware Valley.

The Senate race in particular has gained national attention because the body is now divided 50/50 for each party, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie votes for Democrats.

In the Republican Senate race, which for months appeared to be a duel between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick, a hedge fund CEO, a third candidate broke through into striking distance of winning: Kathy Barnette, an author and conservative commentator.

Dr. Mehmet Oz

The Emerson College poll released over the weekend, showed Oz at 28 percent support, followed by Barnette with 24 percent, and McCormick with 21 percent. However, 15 percent were undecided. Those voters were asked who they are leaning towards. With their support allocated, Oz jumped to 32 percent, followed by Barnette with 27 percent and McCormick with 26 percent. Since last month’s Pennsylvania GOP poll, Oz gained 10 points, Barnette has gained 12 points and McCormick has lost two points.

Jim Geraghty, senior political correspondent for the National Review told the Delaware Valley Journal podcast that it may have been Trump’s endorsement of Oz that opened the door for Barnette to surge.

“A lot of Trump fans are like ‘Er, no,’” said Geraghty. The “Mehmet Oz endorsement is a bridge too far for Trump’s base…The Trump endorsement clearly has a limit to it.”

However, now that Barnette is gaining traction, she’s also become a target. Oz and McCormick have been duking it out with attack ads on the airwaves for months.

“The knives are out,” she told Delaware Valley Journal in a recent interview. “They are scared and mad.” Oz and McCormick have spent many millions more on their campaigns than her paltry $1.7 million. Although she recently attracted a deep-pocketed PAC, the Club for Growth, that is also running ads on her behalf.

Meanwhile,  the other candidates are also campaigning nonstop across the state.

“Dr. Oz is in a position to win because he’s the only conservative outsider in this race,” said Casey Contres, campaign manager. “President Trump endorsed Dr. Oz because he knows that Pennsylvanians want someone that will fight back at the woke mob and put forth solutions that will get the government out of their way.”

Rep. Craig Williams and Dave McCormick, Republican Senate candidate.

McCormick said, “I’m a battle-tested conservative, Army veteran, successful businessman, and Pennsylvania job creator who knows what it takes to revive our economy, restore our conservative values, secure our border, and solve the problems facing Pennsylvanians.”

He called his opponents “unqualified and concerning.”

Others running on the Republican side include Montgomery County developer Jeff Bartos, former ambassador Carla Sands, and Sean Gale and George Bochetto, both lawyers—all poll at single digits.

The Democrat candidates have also seen some drama also in recent days, but for a different reason. Frontrunner Lt. Gov. John Fetterman suffered a stroke but he is expected to be recover. Also, running for Senate are Congressman Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

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Barnette Is In The Fight of Her Political Life as Primary Day Nears

Kathy Barnette is in the fight for her political life. And she knows it.

“The knives are out,” she told Delaware Valley Journal Friday. “They are scared and mad.”

Since advancing into a three-way tie in the GOP’s U.S. Senate primary, the Huntington Valley resident has been the target of a barrage of negative attacks and commentary. An article in the Washington Examiner that asked who Barnette was unleashed a floodgate of what her GOP critics call “vetting.”

In response, Barnette took to local radio to answer questions about her hometown in Alabama, her military experience, and her previous employment. She even posted pictures of her military discharge papers on Twitter.

An author and conservative commentator, Barnette is active in the pro-life movement and homeschooled her two children.

She has also made controversial statements in the past that some Republicans fear could cost the party a winnable Senate seat in November’s general election. They point to articles she wrote attacking what she called “the homosexual AGENDA,” and tweets many consider Islamophobic — including calls to ban Islam from the United States and suggesting that former President Barack Obama was a Muslim.

In response, Barnette pointed out the Muslim-related tweets were from 2015 or 2016, at a time when Obama allowed large numbers of Syrian refugees into the country.  She said the FBI director acknowledged there was no way to determine the background or views of those refugees.

“I am not against Muslims or any individual,” she said.  “I am against radical Islamic terrorism. Clearly, not all Muslims are radical.”

Her critics took short tweets where “clearly not all the thoughts are complete sentences, taking half of what is being written and adding a narrative,” said Barnette.

As for tweets that seemed homophobic or against transsexuals, Barnette said those were also not “whole thoughts.” However, she said, she is against teaching young children in kindergarten through third grade about sexual matters and she opposes girls competing in sports against biological males.

“They are just taking a portion of what I said,” Barnette added. “I would never be cruel to anyone.”

She is particularly incensed that Fox radio and television host Sean Hannity has joined the attacks. He interviewed her either on radio or television about seven times, she said, and never asked her about her military record. But now that Hannity is supporting Dr. Mehmet Oz, he is attacking her, she said.

“His horse in the race is not going to win, so he’s going after me,” Barnette said.

Hannity could not immediately be reached for comment.

Barnette also pushed back on heavily-edited videos claiming to show she is a racist who does not like White people and that she supports the Black Lives Matter organization. She says the opposite is true.

“I am hiding nothing,” said Barnette, who noted she has been campaigning for 13 months for the nomination to the Senate and during that time she was largely ignored by much of the media. She also ran for Congress in 2020.

What changed is that she is now in a statistical dead heat with Oz and Dave McCormick, a hedge fund CEO. Both men have spent millions on the race, and their Super PACs have spent even more running attack ads, according to Barnette.

“They are scared and mad,” said Barnette. “They spent over $60 million.” Oz and McCormick, who Barnette refers to as “carpetbaggers” who moved to Pennsylvania from other states to run for office, participated in very few debates or forums while she has traveled the state attending all of them.

Barnette, who is running as an outspoken Trump supporter, was hit with one of the former president’s now-infamous anti-endorsements on Thursday. “Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats.”

“She has many things in her past, which have not been properly explained or vetted, but if she is able to do so, she will have a wonderful future in the Republican Party—and I will be behind her all the way,” Trump said.

“I don’t expect (Trump) to retract his endorsement of Oz,” said Barnette. And her response to Trump’s statement?

“I look forward to working with the president come Wednesday,” she said.

And Barnette has since picked up the endorsements of the Club for Growth and the Susan B. Anthony List, two major players in Republican politics.

As for Oz and McCormick, “I chose to focus on Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanians and they chose to focus on each other,” she said.

“This is politics,” said Barnette about the last-minute attacks against her. “This is the reason why good people don’t go into politics. Look at what they’re doing.”

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At Campaign HQ, Volunteers Stand By Barnette Amid Barrage of Attacks

Now that Huntingdon Valley resident Kathy Barnette is in a three-way statistical tie with Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, she is facing stiff criticism over her background, some social media posts, and doubts about her military career.

The feisty Barnette, who wrote a memoir about growing up poor in Alabama as the result of her mother being raped at age 11, is fighting back. And her DelVal volunteers have her back.

Glenside resident Ed Boyd said he has supported Barnette since “the first time I saw her speak.” He volunteered for Barnette when she ran for Congress in 2020 against Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery County) and is still a strong supporter.

“She brings a message the Republican Party needs to hear,” said Boyd. “Her life story is inspirational. She’s a solid conservative. She’s not somebody trying to buy the nomination. She spent a fraction of the money the two big-money guys (Oz and McCormick) did.”

“It’s a grassroots kind of thing,” said Boyd. “She had to have a ground game strategy. A lot of America First people like her. She’s not a RINO (Republican in Name Only).”

Boxes of Kathy Barnette palms cards to hand out to voters at the polls.

Asked about criticism over anti-Muslim tweets some consider hate speech and issues surrounding her military record, Boyd said the negativity was due to Barnette’s success. Barnette has since tweeted pictures of her military discharge papers.

Other reports say Barnette made disparaging remarks about homosexuals and transgender people.

“Whenever you’re going with somebody looking to rock the boat, you’re going to get that,” he said. “That guy (McCormick) is a hedge fund manager. The other guy (Oz) is an entertainer who was saying very different stuff a couple of years ago. He talks a good game.”

“We’re not just fighting Democrats,” Boyd said. “We’re taking shots from both sides.” Barnette is “not one of them. As she says, she is one of us.”

“You can’t buy a grassroots effort,” Boyd added. “You can only earn it.”

Oz has spent some $11 million and he has former Trump’s endorsement, while McCormick spent a similar amount. Their commercials have dominated Philadelphia television for months. Barnette, meanwhile, spent only about $1.6 million. Although in the last few days the Club for Growth has given her campaign an infusion of cash.

Kristin Baile shows how the frugal campaign recycles signs from Barnette’s 2020 run for Congress.

Kristin Baile of Plymouth Meeting was volunteering at Barnette’s campaign headquarters, filling boxes with Barnette palm cards to be shipped all over the state to hand out to undecided voters at polling places.

“I think she’s winning,” said Baile. “I don’t know who is putting out the attack ads, who is cutting and pasting attack ads. But I think the message is clear: she’s winning.”

Baile supports Barnette “because I know Kathy Barnette,” she said. “She’s not a politician. She is authentic. She is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I tell her she is truth wrapped in charm. She is a genuine person.”

Bryn Athyn resident Cheryl Wille was also working at Barnette headquarters. She said she supports Barnette because she is “passionate. She is a true conservative, and you can see that she is very sincere and honest. She has integrity. She stands for my values.”

As for the attacks, Wille said, “Politics gets dirty, doesn’t it? I believe Kathy’s story. You know it to be true when she speaks it.”

“It’s just terrible that they make up stories at this point in the campaign,” said Wille.  Wille said she had no idea who was trashing Barnette.

As for Barnette versus her well-funded competitors, “It’s an absolute David versus Goliath story,” said Baile.

Philadelphia residents Carmella Maribella and her husband, Charles, came in with a box of palm cards packed and ready to go.

Barnette is “living the American dream,” said Maribella. “I watched the debates. I loved what she said. I’m pro-life, and of them all, I believe she has the most integrity. I can’t stand what they’re doing to her right now.”

Baile interjected, “She’s going to fight for us.”

Charles Maribella said Barnette is anti-establishment and “she’s not afraid to call them out.”

Carmella Maribella said video of Barnette that appears to show her praising Black Lives Matter was “chopped and edited.”

When that was done to former President Trump, “it was the left.” Now it’s “other Republicans,” said Charles Maribella.

“It’s not about politics,” said Baile. “It’s about Kathy. She gives us a voice.”

Wille said a message purportedly from Trump saying Barnette would not be able to win the general election is wrong.

“I don’t believe it,” she said. “I believe Kathy is the best candidate to beat (Lt. Gov. John) Fetterman (the presumed Democratic nominee) in the fall … She had Democrats changing their party to vote for her.”

Meanwhile, Barnette’s campaign manager Bob Gillie said, “The main thing is, all the mud that’s going on is not fully in context.  Kathy knows this mud is being slung. It just shows we’re over the target. Kathy is running a positive campaign. No matter what mud is slung we’re pressing forward.”

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Would Barnette’s Pro-Life Views Help or Hurt Her in November?

With Kathy Barnette now in second place in two recent polls of Pennsylvania Republican voters for the U.S. Senate race, would her strict, no exceptions stand on abortion be a hindrance in the general election?

Both Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is in the lead, and Dave McCormick, the hedge fund CEO who is in third place, are also pro-life but would make an exception for the life of the mother.

And at the other end of the spectrum, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is the likely Democratic nominee, wants to guarantee a woman’s right to choose all the way through the ninth month of pregnancy. Indeed, Fetterman has called the right to an abortion “sacred” and would do away with the Senate filibuster to pass a pro-abortion law.

“Let’s be clear: The right to an abortion is sacred,” Fetterman tweeted. “Democrats have to act quickly – get rid of the filibuster to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act + finally codify Roe into law. We cannot afford to wait.”

Abortion has dominated the headlines lately because of a leaked draft of a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision that would likely overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that found women had a right to an abortion. If the high court does reverse Roe, it would throw the issue back to the state legislatures to decide.

 

Temple University Political Science Department Chair Robin Kolodny said that the polls’ margin of error shows a “statistical dead heat” between Barnette, Oz, and McCormick.

A Real Clear Politics has Oz at 25, Barnette at 23, and McCormick at 22. A Trafalgar Group poll shows Oz at 24.5, Barnette at 23.2, and McCormick at 21.6.

“As with so much in elections, the winner will be the one who mobilizes best over the next week. This is generally a lot harder in midterm years,” said Kolodny.

“However, since she has been campaigning with (gubernatorial candidate) Doug Mastriano and his lead is much more commanding, that could help her,” said Kolodny. “I don’t think her stance on abortion is going to be that much different from the Republican nominee’s position, so I don’t think this would be a particular concern in the fall campaign should she get the nomination. Whatever candidate gets the nomination should expect everything in their record to be fair game. We know less about Barnette than the other two front runners, so who knows?”

“If Barnette was to win the nomination her position on abortion would be a drag on her chances,” said Christopher Borick, professor of political science and director of Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion. “In terms of public opinion, her abortion stance is not shared by a large majority of voters in Pennsylvania. The issue could tip a portion of swing voters away from her, and bring some Democratic-leaning voters to the polls who otherwise may not be energized in this cycle.”

Barnette’s life story is the basis of her pro-life beliefs.

Her mother was 11 years old when she was raped leading to Barnette’s birth.

“I’m the byproduct of rape,” Barnette tweeted. “My mother was 11 when I was conceived. In the world the left desires, I would never have been born. We need leaders with a steady hand to direct our nation through these difficult discussions.”

And this, Pennsylvania political insiders tell DVJournal, is the wildcard. “How does Fetterman attack her on abortion when she has a personal story like that,” one political operative who declined to speak on the record said. “She’s a Black woman who has the abortion issue as part of her biography. Fetterman’s a big, bald White guy who’s already got an issue with Black voters. How does he handle this in a debate without looking bad?”

In 2013, Fetterman chased a Black jogger and pulled a shotgun, mistakenly believing the man had been involved in a shooting.

Tom Stevens, president of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, also believes her views will help Barnette in the general election.

“It will help, rather than hurt Kathy Barnette in the general election,” Stevens said.  “Most of Pennsylvania does not believe that abortion is ‘sacred,’ although many think abortion should be limited but legal.   Kathy is a strong candidate, and as people vote on the other issues, her platform will carry her.”
Kathy’s own story of having a mom who was raped and despite it kept her pregnancy and gave birth to Kathy is a testament to the power of pro life conviction in the face of extremely difficult circumstances.  Kathy has said that if she had been aborted, her own children would not have been born, and all her achievements would not have been reached.

Barnette, an author and Fox News commentator, has talked extensively about her life from a childhood of poverty, serving 10 years in the Army Reserve, completing college, and then working in finance.

A Huntingdon Valley resident, she is married with two children. In 2020, Barnette ran for Congress against incumbent Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery).

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New Poll Shows Barnette Surging In GOP U.S. Senate Primary

A week before Pennsylvania Republicans pick their U.S. Senate nominee, a new poll shows Kathy Barnette surging into second place and in a virtual three-way tie for the lead.

The poll, conducted by GOP polling firm Trafalgar Group, gives Dr. Mehmet Oz a narrow lead at 24.5 percent, Barnett just behind at 23.2 percent, and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick at 21.6 percent — all within the poll’s margin of error.

The rest of the field — Delaware Valley businessman Jeff Bartos, former Ambassador Carla Sands, Montgomery County attorney Joe Gale, and Philadelphia attorney George Bochetto — is well behind in single digits.

The Trafalgar Group is rated by the data analysts at FiveThirtyEight.com as one of the most accurate polling firms in the country.

For weeks, Oz and McCormick have kept up a barrage of negative ads targeting each other, largely ignoring the rest of the field. Strategists say that has opened a path for a third candidate like Barnette, who has been unscathed by the attacks, to emerge as an alternative.

“The poll certainly shows building momentum for Barnette, which is important going into Election Day,” said GOP political pundit Charlie O’Neill. “However, it’s hard to get a full picture of what this means with just topline totals. Is Barnette taking votes away from Oz or McCormick? Is she converting previously undecided voters? With three candidates all within the margin of error, it appears we’ve moved from a two-way to a three-way race. It’s anyone’s game, but hard to predict the electorate or understand what is surging Barnette with just topline numbers.”

The poll also found 15 percent of GOP primary voters remain undecided.

In an email to supporters Monday morning, Barnette noted this poll has her within the margin of error for first place.

“Every bit of our hard work is paying off. Now it is time to hammer this message home and move on to defeating John Fetterman in the fall,” she said. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is leading the other Democratic candidates by a wide margin.

“Mehmet and Dave have spent $60 million attacking each other and promoting themselves,” Barnette tweeted Friday. “I’ve spent less than $2 million and am within 1.7 percent of first place, a statistical tie. Wait until you see what I’ll do to Fetterman.”

Oz still has the advantage of former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, who held a rally Friday evening near Pittsburgh for Oz.

Barnette is an author and Fox News commentator who ran for Congress against U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) in 2020.

“I believe that the American family is the main focus of our campaign,” Barnette said during a debate hosted by the Delaware Valley Journal in March.  “If it’s good for the American family, I want to work on legislation that benefits them.”

Barnette’s personal story resonates with many voters. She grew up in extreme poverty in Alabama. Her mother was raped at the age of 11, resulting in her birth. Barnette’s grandparents raised her. She joined the Army Reserve, obtained a college degree, and eventually worked in corporate finance. Barnette, 50, also homeschooled her two children for six years.

“It’s clear Pennsylvanians want a battle-tested, true Pennsylvania conservative in the Senate. Dave McCormick is that candidate and will be the next U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania,” said Jess Szymanski, McCormick campaign spokesperson, when asked to comment on Barnette’s surge.

“The grassroots support and momentum is on Dr. Oz’s side with new endorsements rolling in and we are working hard to get his America First message out to Pennsylvania voters,” said Brittany Yanick, a spokeswoman for Oz. “Anyone who supports President Trump and his America First agenda knows that Dr. Oz will champion this. Dr. Oz is the best candidate to beat the Democrats in November, unlike liberal McCormick. As President Trump stated on Friday night, Dave McCormick is a 100 percent certified RINO, China-First candidate who will represent special interest groups, not Pennsylvanians.”

Meanwhile, Barnette believes she is the best one to reach voters in November.

“This campaign isn’t about me. It’s about us taking back our nation,” Barnette told the Delaware Valley Journal in a previous interview.  She contends her focus is on the American people and the “freedom to live our lives the way we want.” And she claims she isn’t just speaking for the Republican Party but for all Americans.

“It’s not a campaign. It’s a movement,” Barnette said.

 

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Republican Senate Candidates Spar at Monday Night’s Debate

The ongoing slugfest between TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick dominated the Republican Senate debate held Monday evening.

Former Ambassador Carla Sands also skirmished with conservative activist Kathy Barnette, feuding over which candidate is the most MAGA. And former Lt. Gov. candidate Jeff Bartos did his best to portray the two frontrunners, McCormick and Oz, as “political tourists,” who came to Pennsylvania to run for office.

With a 50-50 U.S. Senate in the balance, Pennsylvania’s Senate race has gained national attention.

The candidates agreed on most of the larger issues, such as all claiming to be pro-life, wanting lower taxes and fewer regulations, and vowing to unleash America’s energy dominance. Because their positions are so similar, voters may choose based on personal style and their perceived ability to defeat the Democratic nominee — likely to be Lt. Gov. John Fetterman — in November.

Oz repeatedly touted his endorsement from former President Donald Trump as he parried McCormick’s barbs, and he returned Trump’s endorsement with his loyalty. For example, while some Republicans are concerned that Trump’s obsession with re-litigating the 2020 election will hurt the party this fall, Oz doubled down. “I have discussed it with President Trump and we cannot move on” from the 2020 election issue, he said.

Bartos and Barnette both bashed McCormick and Oz as late-comers who moved to the state to run for the open Senate seat.

“When these carpetbaggers lose, you will never see them again,” said Barnette. “And if they should win, you will never see them again.” Voters “want someone who doesn’t just parachute into our state.”

McCormick said he grew up in Bloomsburg, where his family ran a Christmas tree farm that he still owns, then went to West Point and served in the Gulf War. Oz pointed to his University of Pennsylvania education and said he grew up near Kennett Square, albeit in Delaware.

Bartos said he is a “proud Pennsylvanian” who was raised in Berks County. He promised to fight for Pennsylvanians and pointed out that he started a nonprofit group to keep small businesses afloat during the COVID pandemic.

Sands, who grew up in Camp Hill and spent much of her adult life in Atlanta and California, said she spent about half her life here working as a “third-generation chiropractic doctor with my father.” She served as the ambassador to Denmark for the Trump administration and now runs an investment business founded by her late husband.

The candidates also criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the economy and promised to do better if voters sent them to Washington.

“Democrats have decided to weaponize climate change and create a war against energy,” said Barnette.

“I’m running to save Main Street Pennsylvania,” said Bartos. “The number one way to do it is to unleash Pennsylvania’s energy industry. We are sitting on two Saudi Arabia’s worth of natural gas…You cannot save Main Street Pennsylvania if you can’t find Main Street Pennsylvania.”

Sands said Pennsylvania needs an “Operation Warp Speed” for energy.

McCormick said he created 600 jobs at his company in Pittsburgh and agreed with the others that the state needs its energy jobs unleashed. He noted Oz called for a ban on fracking in an article on Oct. 13, 2014.

“Dishonest Dave is at it again,” Oz said. “I know exactly how to manage our energy issues…As a professor, scientist, and someone who understands a little about the actual energy infrastructure, there is no way the Green New Deal is going to provide us with what the Democrats promise. It’s a lie like so much about what they said about COVID.”

McCormick said Oz constantly repeats Trump’s endorsement because “he can’t run on his own record.”

“What’s true is that he’s flip-flopped on every major issue in this campaign,” said McCormick.

On Trump’s claims that he, and not Biden, actually won the 2020 election, Oz called the allegations “serious.”

“Under the cover of COVID, there’s been draconian changes to our voting laws by Democratic leadership, and they have blocked appropriate reviews of some of those decisions. We have to be serious about what happened in 2020, and we won’t be able to address that until we win the House and the Senate,” Oz said.

Bartos said, “Unfortunately, Joe Biden is the president. As a result of his lack of leadership, we have chaos in Russia, an illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, we have chaos in the Middle East, we have an ascendant Iran, an ascendant China, we have an economy in disarray, we have runaway inflation. And this is on the heels of every Democrat running. Every Democrat running this year is going to have to answer for the lockdowns, shutdowns, lives ripped apart. So the 2020 election was a catalyst for what we’re seeing now.”

Sands said documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie “2000 Mules” is about how the 2020 election was stolen and that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said it was stolen by the directed funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“When you take the oath to protect this country, the thing you’re protecting is the right to vote,” said McCormick. “And we have a tragedy here that most Republican voters in Pennsylvania don’t believe in the integrity of the election.”

The reasons include mail-in voting, the lack of security for ballot boxes, oversight at the precincts, and money that’s come in from Zuckerberg.

“And we have the fact that the Hunter Biden laptop story was suppressed,” said McCormick. “We’ve got to fix this. And the most important thing (is) voter I.D. We’ve got to have voter I.D.”

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Four GOP Senate Candidates Debate in Western PA

Four Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate faced off in a debate Wednesday evening in western Pennsylvania.

Kathy Barnette, an author and Fox commentator; Jeff Bartos, a Montgomery County businessman; Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto; and Elk County deputy sheriff and business owner Martin Rosenfeld fielded questions at the event in New Castle. The seat, being vacated by incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, has been called one of the most likely to flip to the Democrats.

Candidates Dr. Mehmet Oz and Carla Sands, a former ambassador, did not attend. Oz’s spokesman said he had another commitment. And hedge fund CEO David McCormick entered the race on Thursday.

Rosenfeld said he would not support any bills that limit 2nd Amendment rights or impair the economy, including gas, coal and agriculture.

Kathy Barnette at the first GOP Senate debate

President Joe Biden spoke about “a winter of death” from COVID, but Pennsylvania ranks number four in overdose deaths and murders have spiked to record numbers in Philadelphia, Barnette said.

“Critical Race Theory is being taught in our schools, and our nation is more divided than we have ever been in our life,” Barnette said. “Our borders are open. We should be talking about economics…Our nation is in trouble and we all know it. We all know there is something fundamentally wrong with how our nation is being governed…The America that allowed a little black girl who grew up on a pig farm to climb the economic ladder–that America is fast coming to a close.”

Bartos said, “Being a lifelong Pennsylvanian is a distinguishing characteristic in this campaign for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania. And now, with the four of here, I think I can add, finding Lawrence County and showing up for you is another distinguishing characteristic…” Bartos is running because Main Street Pennsylvania is “being crushed” by record-high inflation, mandates and crime waves.

“Our number one export is our children,” he said. “It should be energy, but it is our children who are fleeing our commonwealth for better opportunities elsewhere.”

Jeff Bartos

As a child, Bochetto lived in an orphanage and “grew up fast.” He appreciates our democracy that allows people to become successful “no matter where they come from.”

Rosenfeld’s priorities would be to get people working again and impose term limits for elected officials. And he’d like to see immigrants properly vetted.

“Every state is a border state, and we have immigrants unlawfully transported into our state under cover of darkness,” said Barnette. And as for foreign affairs, “China is our number one threat. We hear Joe Biden and (Secretary of State Anthony) Blinken telling us they are just another competitor. They are not. They are our number one enemy…They just entered an unholy alliance with Russia…They smell weakness, not just in the White House but in our legislative branch as well.”

Bartos said, “We need to win this seat to hold and take back the United States Senate and make sure the filibuster survives the threat imposed right now. This seat could decide whether “disastrous legislation (Democrat-sponsored voting bills) sees the light of day…Rest assured, every Democrat running for this seat will blow up the filibuster on day one.”

He called for funding for school choice and an amendment to ensure that only American citizens are allowed to vote in U.S. elections, citing 800,000 noncitizens now being permitted to vote in New York City.

Bochetto agreed but said none of those objectives would be accomplished if something is not done about rampant crime.

George Bochetto

“We can’t worry about the filibuster with people out there who want to kill us,” he said. He said progressive district attorneys are not upholding their oaths of office. “We can’t worry about growing Main Street if millions of thugs are looting stores…The priority has to be a return of sanity to our public safety…We have to get rid of these mayors…and these liberal, left-wing, crazy policies and get back to our core values.”

Asked about draft methane regulations that will add billions to energy costs, Bochetto said we were energy independent under President Trump. Biden took office and shut down the Keystone Pipeline.

“Shutting down our ability to go for the gas that we have under our feet,” he said. “We have the richest deposits right here in Pennsylvania…The people that are here can actually make this county energy independent. Instead, we have a radical, misguided president who believes everything has to be judged by his radical climate change plans…You cannot shut down the American economy.”

Bartos said Pennsylvania is “sitting on a Saudi Arabia’s worth of natural gas.”

“All of the businesses in all 67 counties benefit from downstream production,” said Bartos. Any senator from Pennsylvania has a “critical duty” to fight for the state’s energy industry, he said.

“How many of you know that Joe Biden is not king?” Barnette asked. While “Democrats do what Democrats do,” the current elected Republicans “are allowing Joe Biden with a phone and a pen…to just make up edits as he goes.”

And people are not investing money into drilling new oil and gas wells because “Joe Biden has created a very hostile environment in the energy industry.”

Martin Rosenfeld

Rosenfeld said, “Elk County is one of the largest methane producers in Pennsylvania. We supply New York City with all of their methane gas. The fight to get those gas wells back on line, they weren’t just shut down by President Biden. They were also shut down by our governor, Wolf. And that’s where the four of us are so strong, to get Pennsylvania back online and supporting our governor candidates…The fight is against our government. It’s not against our people.”

Asked if the U.S. should participate in the Olympics in China and if China should be allowed to purchase thousands of acres of American farmland, Rosenfeld said that was not a positive development and recommended boycotts. As far as the Olympics, “we need to stand up and win.”

“China is our number one threat,” said Barnette. And China and Russia are in “an unholy union.”

“These people are not playing with us,” she said. “It is bigger than beef. It is much bigger than the Olympics. China as a superpower is not going to be so conciliatory, as benevolent as America has been.” She is concerned about shipping in the South China Sea and a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which produces 93 percent of our semiconductors.

Trump awakened the U.S. to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party, Bartos said. Jobs that were chipped from the U.S. to China are now “powering” its economy and those jobs need to be brought back to Pennsylvania.

Bochetto does not support banning our athletes from competing in the Chinese Olympics. He pointed to the example of Jesse Owens who was in the Olympics (in Berlin before World War II) when “we had another existential threat to this world.”

“And he did more good for our country and our image by being there and showing the worth of an American than by not being there…what we need is real strength on China,” he said.

 

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Philly Lawyer George Bochetto Joins GOP Race for U.S. Senate

Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, who was the Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner from 1995 to 2002, did not pull any punches against his opponents during a recent interview about his decision to enter the crowded GOP U.S. Senate primary race.

The well-known local attorney is joining a field that includes a celebrity doctor, a former ambassador, a wealthy hedge fund executive, a Montgomery County businessman, and a Fox News commentator—and that’s just on the Republican side. Another large group has also lined up seeking the Democratic nomination.

Bochetto, 69, called Dr. Mehmet Oz “an individual who has gotten rich off selling magic coffee beans to little old ladies on daytime TV.”

Bochetto is putting up $1 million of his own money to launch his campaign. He says he will have enough money to “get my message out.”

“I don’t need to raise $30 million to run a primary campaign,” he said. “And if Oz and (David) McCormick and (Carla) Sands think they can just buy the election, they ought to go talk to Mike Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg, one of the wealthiest men in America, spent millions in a failed bid to win the Democratic presidential primary in 2020.

Bochetto most recently garnered headlines for his defense in court of Philadelphia’s Christopher Columbus statue from those would like to tear it down. He said one reason he is running is to prevent the country from falling to left-wing “woke” mobs.

“I’m all for an Indigenous People’s Day but not canceling Christopher Columbus Day to do it,” said Bochetto. “Why can’t we do both? We have St. Paddy’s Day.”

“I’m running to stand up to these crazy movements that are really tearing down the values and the cultures of our country,” he said.

“The woke mob and the left are truly taking this country on a disastrous course,” said Bochetto. For example, “The murder rates are sky high. We have George Soros-backed DAs who refuse to carry out their oaths of office.”

And since President Joe Biden took office, inflation has gotten out of control.

“Inflation hurts the middle class the most,” he said. “They’re the ones who have to go to the grocery store and buy their food. They’re the ones who have to pay for their own fuel at the filling station. They’re the ones who have to do their own home repairs and pay for them. And the skyrocketing inflation hurts them the most.”

“If we can get a Republican-controlled Senate we can start passing sensible legislation as a group,” he said. “We can start rejecting all these inflationary spending policies that the Biden administration and the Democrats are currently engaged in. Their solution to how to pay for $3.5 trillion in giveaways is to just print more money. Printing more money is highly inflationary. Paying people to stay home instead of working is highly counterproductive, highly inflationary. These are policies that must be rejected,” Bochetto said.

“And we’re only going to reject them if we elect people like myself to go to Washington and take control of the situation and make sure our fundamental values and our fundamental principles of American government are implemented.”

Asked about foreign policy, Bochetto said, “China absolutely represents the greatest existential threat to the United States. And we cannot be electing anybody to the Senate from Pennsylvania who is business partner with the Chinese Communist Party,” (a swipe at McCormick, who has been CEO of Bridgewater Associates, which has investments in Chinese businesses).

Temple University Professor Robin Kolodny, who chairs the political science department, said the large field of candidates with no decisive frontrunner tends to draw more people into the fray.

“As of now, our window for candidates to file petitions to get on the ballot (2,000 signatures) opens on February 15 and closes March 8,” she said. “It is one thing to put out a press release saying you are running.  It is another thing to have all the paperwork in by March 8. Candidates who do not win a major party nomination will still be able to petition to get on the ballot for November as an independent.”

A December poll found Oz 10 points ahead of Fox News commentator Kathy Barnette, who was in second place. However, that poll, by the Trafalgar Group, showed nearly 51 percent of Republican primary voters were undecided.

Kolodny pointed out the last time Republican voters nominated a celebrity it did not end well in the general election. That was in 2006, when Ed Rendell beat Pittsburgh Steelers football legend Lynn Swan and was re-elected governor, with 60 percent of the vote to Swan’s 40 percent.

“Here’s the issue with non-political celebrities: Are those who know them also consistent voters?  It turned out not to be that way for Lynn Swann who invested heavily in advertising on ESPN,” said Kolodny.

Local lawyer and pundit Christine Flowers praised Bochetto.

“Having grown up in the Philadelphia legal community and surrounded, as a child, by legendary lawyers (including my own father Ted Flowers), I have an instinctual sense of what greatness in the profession means,” Flowers said. “To me, there are very few living Philadelphia attorneys who are worthy of the title ‘Philadelphia Lawyer’ in the tradition of Andrew Hamilton, but I have no hesitation in saying that George Bochetto is one of them.

“He took on the City of Philadelphia with its bigoted crusade to silence the Italian American community and rob us of our history, in Columbus,” said Flowers. “He took on all of those who believe that certain cultures and communities can be silenced, at a time when silencing is a popular tactic. And he has been extremely successful. George Bochetto is everything a Philadelphia lawyer should be, and once was.”

 

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