Kathy Barnette is a political commentator and author running for the Pennsylvania Senate as a social conservative and “America First” supporter.
This is Barnette’s first run for the Senate, although she ran unsuccessfully for the US House of Representatives in 2020. Recent polls show she’s gaining momentum ahead of the May 17 primary, and she could emerge as the third candidate in the top flight alongside the ultra-wealthy frontrunners, David McCormick and Mehmet Oz, who are flooding the airwaves with ads.
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Barnette, 50, grew up on a pig farm in Alabama without running water and was the first person in her family to graduate from college. She served in the US Army Reserves and worked in the financial industry, then became a regular commentator for Fox News during the Obama administration.
In early 2020, Barnette published her book, Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: Being Black and Conservative in America It is about her “Journey from the Plantation of the Democrats”.
That same year, she ran for Congress in the 4th District of Pennsylvania in the suburbs of Philadelphia and was unopposed in the primary. Incumbent Democratic MP Madeleine Dean won the general election by a margin of 19 points.
Barnette then embarked on a vain search for voter fraud, which made her a prominent figure in the national vote-resistance movement. During a recent debate, she said there had been “legal fraud” and “irregularities” in 2020, but she “never said” she won her election.
There is no evidence of any significant cheating in the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential election or in Barnette’s race.
Operating on the premise that Democrats are trying to “fundamentally transform the nation,” Barnette often delves into culture war issues that have become national flashpoints. Their campaign website includes a section on “Critical Race Theory,” a graduate academic field of study about how race factors flow into American institutions that has become a catch-all for how race is taught in schools. She calls it “Neo Jim Crow nonsense.”
She says the country’s most important issue is the integrity of the elections and she strongly opposes coronavirus-related mandates.
Barnette is opposed to abortion, a position she says was shaped by the fact that she was a “by-product of rape” when her mother was 11.
She says she supports a “merit-based” immigration system and that people who enter the United States “through fraud” should be prevented from gaining legal status.
Barnette’s most prominent support came early in her campaign from Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser well known on the pro-Trump right, who urged the former president to use the military to overthrow the 2020 election. (After the election, former President Donald Trump pardoned Flynn, who in 2017 pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian ambassador.)
She was also joined by Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) and State Sen. Cris Dush (R., Jefferson), who are chairing the committee conducting a partisan investigation into Pennsylvania’s 2020 election.
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Among her staunchest supporters is State Senator Doug Mastriano, one of the Republican frontrunners for governor of Pennsylvania. Barnette and Mastriano often fight together.
Trump has endorsed Oz, but Barnette says she still wears the MAGA mantle and often invokes “America First.” She has left the door open to backing either Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president in 2024.
“MAGA does not belong to President Trump,” she said during a recent debate. “MAGA, although he coined the word, it belongs to the people. Our values have never shifted to President Trump’s values. It was President Trump who changed and aligned with our values.”