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ULTRA MAGA Roundup – The Republican Referendum

Republicans are heading out to vote across the country in primaries today. When the polls close, the GOP will get a good look at how far President Trump’s endorsement goes. Pennsylvania, North Caroline, and Oregon will give the first hints at the Republican frontline in the November Election as they look for a red wave to sweep them back into power.

The Hill: Primary night- All eyes on Pennsylvania

By: Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver; May 16, 2022

It’s primary night in America, and all eyes are on a spate of GOP contests that could determine the future of the Senate in November and former President Trump’s impact on the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. 

Chief among the states to watch is Pennsylvania, which features the event of the evening: a rough-and-tumble Senate GOP primary among Mehmet Oz, Kathy Barnette and David McCormick, all of whom have a shot at victory. According to strategists and the latest polling, Oz is considered the slight favorite, but Barnette’s late charge has changed the calculus and thrown a fresh sense of uncertainty into what will be the final result. 

“Oz with a slim lead, but he’s by no means out of the woods,” one Keystone State-based GOP operative told the Morning Report on Monday, adding that the worst-case scenario involves Barnette and state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), the Trump-endorsed candidate for governor, emerging victorious and handing Democrats a lifeline in November. “With Barnette and Mastriano at the top of the ticket, every seat in Pennsylvania is more up for grabs.” 

In the last two weeks, the lion’s share of scrutiny has fallen on Barnette as she has surged amid the two-way ad war between Oz and McCormick. NBC News on Monday unearthed photos that showed Barnette marching with members of the Proud Boys on Jan. 6. A number of those individuals were later arrested for breaking into the Capitol and attacking police officers.

“She may have peaked a little too early,” one GOP operative told the Morning Report. “She had floated under the radar for so long that no one attacked her. Now that some of her negatives are coming out, some are less inclined to support [her].”

In his final pitch to voters, Trump on Monday recorded a robocall intended to boost Oz and criticize Barnette and McCormick, saying that the latter two “are not candidates who put America first” (The Washington Post).

Across the aisle, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is expected to win handily in the state’s Senate Democratic primary over Rep. Conor Lamb (Pa.). Fetterman announced on Sunday that he suffered a minor stroke on Friday and has been off the campaign trail.

Voters will also take to the polls in North Carolina and determine the future of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) after a never-ending string of unflattering stories and questionable remarks turned his race into a competitive one (NBC News). 

Cawthorn is facing an eight-way primary tonight, including a challenge from state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who has earned the support of Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and other influential figures in the Tar Heel State. However, if Cawthorn holds on, it might be because of Trump’s help, as the former president on Monday reiterated his endorsement for the 26-year-old lawmaker, saying that the incumbent has made “foolish mistakes, which I don’t believe he’ll make again” (The Wall Street Journal).

“Let’s give Madison a second chance!” he added.

Outside of today’s primary contests, there was some major political news emanating from the Supreme Court on Monday as justices sided with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that caps loan repayments to candidates at $250,000. In 2018, Cruz loaned his campaign $260,000 and was suing to be able to recoup the additional $10,000. 

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the provision “burdens core political speech without proper justification.” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in dissent that the decision “greenlights all the sordid bargains Congress thought right to stop” with the 2002 law, adding that it “can only bring this country’s political system into further disrepute.” The Biden administration had defended it on an anti-corruption basis (The Associated Press). 

Photo by Jeff Swensen via Getty Images

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