Pennsylvania made headlines in Tuesday’s primaries. These are six takeaways from the state and other races from the night:
Tight Senate primary in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania continued counting ballots in its Republican Senate primary Wednesday morning, where Mehmet Oz, the celebrity heart surgeon endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and retired hedge fund executive David McCormick are locked in a neck-and-neck battle. The final outcome could be delayed in part by a printing error in Lancaster County that officials there said left about 22,000 ballots unable to be read by scanners.
Conservative Kathy Barnette ran as a Trump heir, seizing on grassroots Republican antipathy toward Oz. And though Barnette is third in the race as the last ballots are counted, she appears to have sapped the celebrity doctor of needed votes.
It’s a dynamic unique to Republican primaries: Trump is such an all-consuming force in the GOP that when the Trump-endorsed candidate and those looking to take Trumpism even further aren’t the same person, it gives space to a less Trump-inspired candidate like McCormick.
And it’s a significant reason that the race remains too close to call.
An election denier could have power over Pennsylvania’s 2024 election
In state Sen. Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania Republicans have nominated for governor a leading voice advancing Trump’s lies about election fraud — raising the possibility that someone who already attempted to overturn voters’ will in 2020 would have power over the election machinery of one of the nation’s most important presidential battleground states in 2024.
The Trump-endorsed Mastriano will face Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has consistently defended Pennsylvania’s election process and 2020 results, in the race to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
The burned bridges of Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina
Despite a late assist from Trump, Rep. Madison Cawthorn could not survive his series of scandals — or the GOP’s efforts to turn him into an example for other far-right figures. He was ousted from his western North Carolina congressional seat by state Sen. Chuck Edwards.
The tactics behind the scorched-earth approach of Cawthorn’s intra-party critics were key to his defeat. Sen. Thom Tillis and other top North Carolina Republicans didn’t just vocally denounce Cawthorn — they identified and rallied around a single opponent in the eight-candidate field.
What it means to be a top Democratic recruit is changing
On Tuesday night, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a 6-foot, 8-inch, bald, tattooed former mayor known for wearing shorts and hoodies, ran away with the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. In North Carolina, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley largely won the primary field and could become her the state’s first Black senator.
Their wins are part of a change within the Democratic Party, where what constituted a good recruit in cycles past meant someone who looked a lot more like the people Fetterman and Beasley beat.
Far-right Idaho gubernatorial candidate falls flat
Idaho Gov. Brad Little easily fended off an effort to unseat him by his own lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin.
Outside groups get modest return on big Democratic House primary bet
Outside groups showered moderate Democratic candidates in spending ahead of races in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Oregon in a bid to overrun progressive outsiders and blunt the left’s recent momentum in House primaries.
But with almost all the votes in, the returns on those investments appear to be mixed. A pair of targeted progressive candidates in North Carolina lost badly, while Summer Lee, a state representative from Pennsylvania vying to become the first Black woman elected to Congress from the commonwealth, was in a tight race with her moderate rival in Pittsburgh’s 12th District.
The implications of Tuesday’s results will also weigh on next week’s blockbuster runoff in Texas, where Jessica Cisneros is trying to unseat moderate incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar, another big-time beneficiary of outside money organizations.
Read the full report here.
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