News that former President Donald Trump was found guilty on 34 felony indictments of falsifying business records hit the world of Pennsylvania politics hard Thursday evening, inspiring both elation and profanity.

Not surprisingly, the reaction was divided along political lines, with Democrats demanding Republicans abandon Trump, and the GOP insisting the case was proof that Democrats would abuse the justice system to “get Trump.”

“This was a disgrace,” Trump said after the verdict. “I’m a very innocent man. And it’s OK, I’m fighting for our country. We’ll fight ’til the end and we’ll win. Because our country’s gone to hell.”

As soon as the verdict was read, attention turned to the U.S. Senate race, where Democrat Bob Casey is viewed as one of the most at-risk incumbents in the country. Trump carried Pennsylvania in 2016, lost it in 2020, and continues to hold a slim lead in the polls. A strong performance by Trump could hurt Casey’s chances of winning a fourth term.

Republican challenger Dave McCormick immediately released a response that (unexpectedly) featured a quote from an anti-Trump CNN commentator.

“This is a terrible day for America and for trust in our justice system. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said, ‘I doubt the New York indictment would have been brought against a defendant whose name was not Donald Trump.’

“This case should never have been brought in the first place, and this miscarriage of justice is despicable. I look forward to the appeal.”

Casey had not issued a statement as of late Thursday night, though his campaign did send a fundraising email in the wake of the verdict. “We have to keep Donald Trump out of the White House, and the only way to do that is by keeping Pennsylvania blue,” it read. “If Bob Casey loses, Democrats don’t stand a chance. Pennsylvania is the linchpin that will decide both the Senate and the White House this November.”

At the local level, Republicans defended Trump while Democrats denounced him.

“I think it was a travesty of justice. To see these New York politicians, masquerading as prosecutors, go after their political opponents in such a way that I worry for our country,” said Bucks County Republican Chair Pat Poprik. “Our legal system has been abused in the worst way possible. It’s a sad day for our country when the courts are used to bring frivolous charges against your political opponents.”

But Chester County Democratic Party chair Charlotte Valyo released a statement defending the verdict.

“For the first time in history, 12 fellow American citizens were called to do their jury duty in regard to the charged criminal conduct of a former president of the United States. This jury listened to all the evidence and the law to be applied and rendered a decision… Guilty on all 34 counts,” Valyo said.

“In Chester County, character matters. President Biden is a man of character, and we can be truly proud to support him. The verdict was a sweep and our November election will also be a sweep.”

But will the verdict really “sweep” Pennsylvania Democrats to victory?

“At least initially I don’t believe it will have too much of an impact,” veteran political pro Jeff Jubelirer told DVJournal. “In fact, I think it will harden the position of each candidate’s base. For the small percentage of undecided or swing voters, I do believe that the verdict and the continuing focus by the media through the inevitable appeals process and sentencing talk could make an impact and move some support back to President Biden.”

GOP campaign strategist — and occasional candidate — Charlie Gerow agrees.

“The down-ballot races aren’t likely to be affected at all. The elimination of the straight party vote means those races are much more about the individual candidates in each race,” Gerow said.

But Craig Snyder, a longtime political operative who is part of the anti-Trump wing of the GOP, says there could be consequences from the conviction

Noting that “155,000 Pennsylvania Republicans voted for Nikki Haley in our primary – a clear protest against Donald Trump as the nominee,” Craig says “it seems likely now that Trump being a convicted felon will cause more of these folks to either vote for Biden or otherwise not vote for Trump, than would have been the case without the conviction. That could be enough to swing Pennsylvania’s crucial Electoral College votes.”

Some Democrats are trying to force the New York City verdict into Pennsylvania politics. Democrat Malcolm Kenyatta, running for state auditor, released a statement demanding that incumbent Republican Auditor Tim DeFoor denounce Donald Trump immediately.

“The auditor general must be above all else brave. To call our bad actors without fear or favor. If Tim DeFoor had any guts, he would call on Donald Trump to drop out of the race today.”

Several politically active local attorneys expressed their dismay at what they see as an abuse of the legal system that undermines the public trust.

“As a lawyer, I’m disgusted with a very blatant example of prosecutorial misconduct in even bringing the charges in a purely political prosecution against an announced presidential candidate,” said lawyer and writer Christine Flowers. “As a voter, I’m emboldened by this to now announce my vote for Trump, which is a vote against Biden and those who support him, who represent a system that is being misused against political opponents.”

Republican activist and attorney Guy Ciarrocchi told DVJournal, “This verdict changes nothing for most voters. As an attorney, I’m sickened by the weaponization of the justice system, and outraged at the charges having no basis in the law. I’m afraid we’ve opened Pandora’s Box.”

But Gerow says that however angry or elated voters feel today, the fundamentals of the presidential race haven’t changed.

“The Democrats who wanted to chirp about President Trump being a ‘convicted felon’ may well end up being very sorry for what they wanted. There’s a good chance this will backfire on them. President Trump has emerged from this trial in many ways more formidable than he’s ever been. Throughout this ordeal his support has grown.

“Meanwhile, Democrats are still stuck with Joe Biden, which is an increasingly tough sell.”