June 17, 2024

microcosm primary

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 13 May 2022WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932A microcosm primaryBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift          WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary is a microcosm of the political forces raging across the nation. The winners will set the stage for the battle between mostly mainstream Democrats and Trumpian Republicans who are running with or without the former president’s endorsement.          Trump’s endorsed candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, did not get a big boost in the polls from Trump’s nod. Voters are skeptical of the celebrity doctor who until recently lived and voted in New Jersey.          Former hedge fund financier, David McCormick, who tried but failed to win Trump’s endorsement, assailed Oz as “a fraud” in a hard-hitting ad campaign. The skirmish between the two men allowed a third candidate in the race to emerge from seemingly nowhere.          Kathy Barnette, a conservative commentator with a thin resume but a powerful personal story, has turned the race into a three-way fight about who is most like Trump and would best represent MAGA in the U.S. Senate.          The leaked opinion from the Supreme Court about overturning Roe v Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion, prompted Barnette to tell her story as the child of rape that her 11-year-old mother bore. She is fiercely anti-abortion and for five years served on the board of a crisis pregnancy center.          Barnette closely aligns herself with state Senator Doug Mastriano, a 2020 election denier who is expected to win the GOP primary for governor. Barnette is described as “ultra-MAGA” and as the race goes into its final days, Republican party officials worry she’s too much of a wild card in a race that could determine control of the Senate.          McCormick, the hedge fund guy, is considered the safest bet for Republicans to hold the seat. A native of Pennsylvania, his wife, Dina Powell, had a high-ranking economic advisory position in the Trump White House before fleeing in apparent horror at the chaos in the West Wing.          The problem with McCormick is that he is standard, rich Republican white bread at a time when voters want celebrity and diversity.          Some of the same dynamics are at play on the Democratic side. Initially, the favorite to win, Rep. Connor Lamb, a veteran, a lawyer, and former prosecutor, flipped a district in 2018 that was traditionally Republican. He was lauded as the kind of candidate that signaled the end of Trump.          But Lamb is behind by double digits in the polls to the former mayor of Braddock, Pa., John Fetterman, a towering figure at 6 foot 8 who dresses like a blue-collar worker, owns guns, and knows how to use them, and likes to show off his tattoos.          He identifies mainly as a populist and his positions line up with the Democratic mainstream.  He is no AOC.          If Democrats can hold the center against whatever variety of Trumpster they’re up against, they have a chance to hold the Senate and maybe even pick up a seat or two or three. The extreme difference today between the two parties and their candidates should make the choice easy for voters.          In 1960, when Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy faced off for the presidency, there was so little difference between the two men that their debates are remembered mostly for an outsized discussion about the strategic importance of two little-known islands off the coast of China, Quemoy and Matsu.           “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them,” George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama, liked to say about the two parties.          That’s no longer the case. The differences today are extreme with one party claiming the last election was stolen while the other party is attempting to field candidates who can appeal to the broad center. The Pennsylvania results will be a significant indicator of what lies ahead.           See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND   


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