People who say money isn’t everything might be right, but these wouldn’t be the politicians who pour millions of donated dollars into the coffers of their campaigns. There are paid television ads and billboards, elaborate rallies, fundraising events, timely donations to the right foundations, and a staff that still needs to eat. Every dollar brought in goes right back out.
Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, both vying for GOP Senate seats in Pennsylvania, have respectively spent a cool $12.4 and $11.4 million of other people’s money. But a third candidate who inched up to the starting gate as a relative unknown is also running for the roses, and this one has only spent $137,000, much of which has been her own money.
Her name is Kathy Barnette, and statistically, Oz and McCormick have outspent the candidate by a margin of 358-1. This is Barnette’s first time running for state office so she has no high-powered endorsements to make life easier for her.
Barnette is not just ultra-conservative, the woman is a full-blown red hat-wearing ultra-MAGA kind of lady who has single-handily created a tsunami. With the primaries lingering just around the corner, Oz and McCormick can’t drink enough Pepto. Barnette’s kicking dust in their faces.
Brian Nutt, a Pennsylvania Republican strategist with no horse in this race, has no reasonable explanation for Barnette’s rise to fame. “Barnette’s apparent rise is surprising just because of the lack of notoriety or resources compared to some of the other candidates in that race,” he said.
Barnette is a purist who appeals to the state’s many grassroots voters. She avoids fluff and she stays away from public displays of hostility such as when Oz and McCormick went ballistic on each other in a televised debate.
The two gentleman candidates have been swapping insults. Oz was called a “RINO” while McCormick was accused of being too friendly with China, and blah, blah, blah… This left Republican voters keeping an eye peeled for a calmer and quieter candidate who still backed Donald Trump, and they found it in Barnette.
Steve Bannon, who invited Barnette to appear on his “War Room: Pandemic” podcast, is in awe of the steam she’s been picking up. “Stunning polling coming out last night. … Oz and McCormick combined, I think, Have spent $24 million, combined. $24 million! … And she’s basically in a dead heat.”
In an interview, Barnette said she credits her high polling numbers to her “authenticity.” She said that voters are tired of watching commercial wars on TV where little is accomplished outside of degrading the opposing candidate with maliciousness.
“They’re spending $50 million on ads. That is their campaign,” she said. “Unless there’s some [sic] high-falutin’ press conference or debates or events to go to, it’s overwhelmingly on television. And it’s these plastic, little run-of-the-mill political ads.”
Barnette has experienced something the other two haven’t. Poverty. She knows what it’s like. She was born as a “product of rape,” which she has no bones talking about. She grew up on a pig farm in a house with no insulation, but she overcame the odds.
She’s a veteran, an adjunct professor of corporate finance, and a best-selling author of the book “Nothing to Lose, Everything to gain: Being Black and Conservative in America.”
Chris Mottola, a GOP consultant, confirmed what Republican voters in Pennsylvania are thinking. “With Oz and McCormick just savaging each other, they wind up with high negatives. All of a sudden, you’re like, ‘Well, why not vote for her? I do really like her.’”
All eyes are watching the race. If Barnette wins the nomination, which she stands a good chance of doing, it could change the course of future campaign tactics. Voters know what they want and Barnette is quietly and peacefully giving it to them on a shoestring budget. Even if she doesn’t win this time around, bets are you’ll see her again.