Who in Their Right Mind Would Label Kathy Barnette a ‘Woke Republican’?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News AM, when I came across this item about an ad attacking Kathy Barnette, a super-Trumpy candidate in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary.

USA Freedom Fund, which is funded, at least in part, by Club for Growth Action, has a new ad running in Pittsburgh slamming Kathy Barnette for being a “woke Republican” who wants to build a statue of former President Barack Obama. This is ironic since Barnette has a long history of attacking Obama, including repeated false accusations that he’s a Muslim.

What the hell, Doc – are we totally through the looking glass at this point?

– GOPsmacked

Dear GOPsmacked,

We’re not just through the looking glass, we’re deep into Queen of Hearts Off With Their Heads territory.

That’s what’s going on in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary right now. Medical fraud Mehmet Oz (the Doc, of all people, should know) and MAGA fraud Dave McCormick have spent a combined $28 million on ads blowtorching one another, as WHYY’s Katie Meyer has reported.

[McCormick] has raised nearly $16 million — $11 million was a loan from himself — and spent more than $14 million, chiefly on big ad buys.

That doesn’t count money from Honor Pennsylvania, a super PAC spending on McCormick’s behalf — primarily funding ads attacking Oz. The PAC has spent more than $11 million . . .

[Oz has] loaned himself more than $12 million, and he’s pulled in another $3 million or so from donors. He’s also supported by a PAC, American Leadership Action, that has spent nearly $3.5 million to oppose McCormick.

Also like McCormick, Oz has spent around $14 million, primarily on ads.

It’s a campaign classic: 1) Candidate A spends all his time telling voters Candidate B is a bum. 2) Candidate B returns the favor. 3) Voters believe them both and turn to Candidate C. (See Carol Moseley Braun’s improbable 1992 U.S. Senate victory in Illinois for further details.)

Candidate C in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate race is Kathy Barnette, “a conservative Christian commentator with a history of advocating, among other things, that the U.S. reject Muslim immigrants and that abortion be completely banned. She’s also a high-profile proponent of baseless voter fraud theories, and is running to the right of the rest of the field,” according to Meyer.

Beyond that, Barnette is surging in the polls, despite having spent a paltry $137,000 on campaign ads so far and despite Donald Trump’s endorsement of Oz. New York Times reporter Jennifer Medina captured the current dynamic in this piece.

Many voters said they were choosing who they believed would carry out Mr. Trump’s ideals, even if they and the former president disagreed on who could best accomplish that. And interviews showed how effectively Ms. Barnette, who has never held public office, had used her life story as a poor, Black child of the South to connect with white working-class voters in western Pennsylvania. At events and in her ads, Ms. Barnette often invokes the phrase “I am you.”

Other conservatives, however, are attacking Barnette. The super PAC USA Freedom Fund is running this ad accusing her of being a “woke Republican” for proposing a statue of Barack Obama in D.C.

PolitiFact has labeled the ad “mostly true.”

[USA Freedom Fund] claimed “Kathy Barnette wants to build a statue of Barack Obama right next to the one of Abraham Lincoln on Capitol Hill.”

Barnette said she did propose a statue of Obama and his family, but she never voted for him, or backed his policies. Her idea was to use three statues to show how far Black people have come since the time of slavery.

The statement is accurate but needs clarification. We rate this claim Mostly True.

But the “woke Republican” label is a joke, given Barnette’s anti-Muslim, homophobic, Big Lie track record.

Seriously

Why Did Josh Mandel Go to Someone Even Less Likable Than Himself for a Senate Primary Endorsement?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News AM, when I came across this item.

Well, he doesn’t have Donald Trump’s endorsement, but Josh Mandel has a new spot with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who urges Ohio voters to send the former Buckeye State treasurer to the Senate. Mandel is seeking the GOP nomination for the Ohio Senate seat. The spot is running statewide.

Wait, what? 

Josh Mandel, a candidate too creepy for Trump, went to Ted Cruz, a politician too creepy for his entire life, for an endorsement?

How does that work, Doc?

– Buckeyed

Dear Buckeyed,

First, let’s establish the mala fides of the fulsome twosome: Here are the search results for Josh Mandel gutter and the search results for Ted Cruz hated.

As for the despicable in support of the deplorable . . .

You might ask, why would Mandel tout an endorsement from a universally reviled politician? This Associated Press piece by Jill Colvin and Julie Carr Smyth might provide a clue.

Josh Mandel runs Ohio GOP Senate campaign ‘through churches’

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (AP) — Before digging into his six-egg omelet at a bustling northeast Ohio diner, Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel stopped to bow his head.

“Bless our food, our time, our conversation, in Jesus’ name,” said Pastor J.C. Church, who joined Mandel after a campaign event at a local church. ”Amen.”

The scene encapsulated Mandel’s campaign strategy as he competes in a crowded field of Republican contenders ahead of Ohio’s May 3 primary. He is a Jewish candidate who makes no secret of his faith, but who is centering his campaign around evangelical churches as he tries to win over religious, conservative voters.

(A six-egg omelet? If that’s not the Christiaan Barnard Special, the Doc doesn’t know what is.)

There’s no doubt Cruz is popular with evangelicals, but Mandel might want to consider a little Cruz control after the Texas solon attacked a high-profile opponent of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill on his latest podcast, as the redoubtable Bess Levin detailed in Vanity Fair.

Senator Ted Cruz . . . recently suggested that because Disney decided to speak out against the bigoted Florida legislation—after receiving backlash from its employees for initially refusing to do so—it’s obviously going to introduce NC-17 story lines to its children’s programming.

In an extremely weird set of remarks, even for him, the Texas lawmaker opined at a live recording of his podcast, Verdict With Ted Cruz: “I think there are people who are misguided, trying to drive, you know, Disney stepping in, saying, you know, in every episode now they’re gonna have, you know, Mickey and Pluto going at it. Like, really? It’s just like, come on guys, these are kids, and you know, you could always shift to Cinemax if you want that.

And that’s not even Mandel’s biggest problem. The Cruz endorsement clearly falls within the knife-to-a-gunfight category, as this new spot from opponent JD Vance illustrates.

Donald Trump’s endorsement has helped Vance reopen the money spigots from his sugar daddy, Peter Thiel – the tech  billionaire who bankrolled Vance early, then ghosted him – as Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reported.

Vance parlays Trump endorsement into new Thiel money

Ohio Republican J.D. Vance is cashing in on his endorsement from former President Donald Trump with a major new super PAC donation from billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel.

Thiel has donated $3.5 million to Protect Ohio Values, the super PAC backing Vance, according to a person familiar with the contribution — part of a broader tranche of money that has come in to support the Senate candidate after last week’s Trump endorsement, which shook up a crowded and competitive race for the GOP nomination.

(For those of you keeping score at home, both Vance and Mandel have felt compelled to run ads proclaiming “I’m not a racist,” which pretty much speaks for itself. A third candidate – Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons – conveniently rounds out the primary’s racism trifecta.)

Here’s where the race stood, according to Real Clear Politics, as of April 14th.

We’ll soon see if a Trump endorsement is the right prescription for getting JD Vance over the hump. The Ohio primary is May 3rd.

How Can You Tell If Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is Lying in Her Campaign Ads?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads.

There I was, minding my own business and scrolling through Punchbowl News AM when I came across this item in the newsletter’s Tally section, which tracks the latest 2022 campaign ads.

Arkansas GOP gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders compares the White House press corps to her unruly children and takes a shot at CNN in her latest ad.

“As White House press secretary, I had to say no. A lot,” Sanders says in the ad. “Being a mom to young kids was the perfect training.”

Sanders also pledges to oppose President Joe Biden’s “radical” agenda and advocates for “good schools, lower taxes and higher-paying jobs.” Huckabee Sanders will very likely be the next governor of Arkansas, so we’re keeping a close eye on how she positions herself.

To be honest, Doc, I didn’t know much of anything about Huckabee Sanders, but when I Googled her, this 2019 Vanity Fair piece by Bess Levin – headline: “As Sarah Sanders Signs Off, A Look Back At Her Biggest Lies” – popped up. Here’s a representative sample.

So I gotta ask, Doc – how do we know if Huckabee Sanders is lying in her campaign ads?

– Huckaboo

Dear Huckaboo,

It’s tempting, of course, to answer your question, “because her lips are moving.” At least that was the case when Huckabee Sanders was the mouthpiece for the Capo di Tutti Liars, Donald J. Trump, as you astutely noted.

But let’s take a step back and look at her latest TV spot.

Here’s the funny thing: Huckabee Sanders compares the White House press corps to a bunch of rambunctious kids, but in reality it’s she who fits the age-old juvenile stereotype: Kids who lie about what they’ve done to avoid the consequences.

She even lies about lying, as Scott Martelle noted in this 2019 Los Angeles Times op-ed.

Soup to nuts graf:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has never found a fact she couldn’t twist, denied Friday morning that there’s a culture of lying at the White House.

The Doc’s diagnosis: Caveat videntium when it comes to any Sarah Hucksterbee Sanders ad in her quest for the Arkansas corner office.