Two of the last three days were arguably some of the most important in the Pennsylvania Republican statewide primaries this cycle. We finally had the big name debates we’ve been waiting for with the Senate and gubernatorial races; the top five candidates in the Senate race debated on Monday, while the top four in the gubernatorial race debated last night.
Surprisingly, the gubernatorial debate was the less chaotic of the two. This was mainly because of multiple nonsensical exchanges between Carla Sands and Kathy Barnette on Monday night. But both debates cleared up the noise for me and hopefully for many other PA GOP voters.
Who Cannot be The Nominees
Firstly, it’s very clear to me who should not be the nominees for our state party in 2022. Kathy Barnette in the Senate debate and Doug Mastriano in the gubernatorial debate each had the worst performances in those debates. They came off the least prepared and worst of all, neither seemed ready to deal with attacks from the other candidates.
That’s very concerning for any candidate, but especially for these two candidates in Barnette and Mastriano. Both have leaned to the fringes of the right wing and have statements that are easy for Democrats to go after in a general election. If they can’t show up to the 6 o’clock card for the primary, they certainly won’t be ready for primetime come the general.
Barnette easily got drug down by attacks from Sands and never bounced back. She became unfocused for the last 45 minutes of the debate and gave the least clear answers on key policy. Mastriano was more of the same last night. Bill McSwain went after him early, and Mastriano seemed to lose some of his composure. He started talking fast to answer every question, to the point where it was hard for me to understand his point and even what he was saying. Mastriano also lacked legitimate policy answers, mostly going off topic and attacking what others have done instead of proposing a solution to the issue. There’s also the fact that Mastriano recently appeared at an event that suggested there would be executions regarding the 2020 election and that 9/11 was a false flag event in an opening video. Mastriano said last night he didn’t know what that group stood for, but he accepted an award from them the same night, which is itself disqualifying in my eyes.
When faced against Josh Shapiro, and yes, even John Fetterman, who we should not underestimate, these two won’t cut it. We need candidates who will show up in prime time and who can win. Mastriano and Barnette and to a certain extent, Carla Sands are not those candidates. Pennsylvania Republicans would be making a massive mistake to have either of these three as nominees and it cannot happen.
Who I’m Voting For and Who I Think Should be the Nominees
I have not hid my support for Dave McCormick for Senate online and in statements. I will be voting for him on May 17th. However, I was decently impressed with Mehmet Oz’s debate performance on Monday. He was stiff and seemed uncomfortable at some points, but he didn’t fall apart and he gave actual policy answers. And considering he was the most attacked candidate on stage, he didn’t do a bad job of pushing back on most of those attacks.
But for Governor, this primary is even more important. As I’ve already said, Dough Mastriano cannot be the Republican nominee in this race. He is the only one of the frontrunners who would be very likely to lose the general election. With that in mind and after a better than expected debate performance, I came down to two candidates. Lou Barletta and Dave White. Looking at policy, I know I agree with White a bit more. But polling is important. And crucially, Mastriano is close to the top in most polling. That, to me, is the crucial battle in this primary. And that is why on May 17th I will be casting my ballot for Lou Barletta to be the Republican nominee for Governor in Pennsylvania.
Lou impressed me last night, as many of the concerns I had with him didn’t show up. He was calm in his tone, didn’t get rattled and gave out clear policy throughout the hour. That gives me the confidence he can be a strong nominee and one who can deliver the Governors mansion back to Republicans in Pennsylvania.
I also want to give a shout-out to the LG primary and say I’m voting for Jeff Coleman in that race. He’s best prepared and would be an excellent running mate for Lou. Consolidating that race is also crucial, especially after Teddy Daniels has found himself in domestic abuse trouble again. He cannot be the nominee either, as he would act as an anchor in this year.