Pennsylvania GOP reaps what Trump sows: The Note

Election conspiracies could be even more consequential in 2024.

May 19, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The advice from former President Donald Trump was as unsolicited as it was unwelcome to Republicans in Pennsylvania looking to bring the party together after a searing primary.

But in reality, many of those seeking office this year have been almost literally asking for it.

Trump's call for Mehmet Oz to "declare victory" to make it "much harder for them to cheat" cited no evidence and left unclear who "them" might be. Thousands of legally cast votes – including from members of the military serving overseas – have yet to be counted, and a recount is likely to be triggered under state law.

PHOTO: Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks at a rally in Greensburg, Pa., May 6, 2022.
Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks at a rally in Greensburg, Pa., May 6, 2022.
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images, FILE

Oz hasn't taken Trump's advice, and none of the candidates have raised questions about the validity of votes not yet counted. But during their campaigns, all the major Republican candidates for statewide office in Pennsylvania landed somewhere on the spectrum between emphasizing "election integrity" and outright claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, despite any proof of fraud.

Another Senate candidate who surged late in the race, Kathy Barnette, was at the Jan. 6 rally before the U.S. Capitol riots and footage unearthed this week showed her marching toward the Capitol that day, though she said she didn't participate in violence. Barnette has yet to concede defeat despite trailing far behind Oz and Dave McCormick; she said on the eve of the primary that she wouldn't endorse Oz or McCormick if either won because, in her words, "I have no intentions of supporting globalists."

No one is questioning the fact that state Sen. Doug Mastriano sailed to the Republican nomination for governor, powered in part by Trump's endorsement. Mastriano himself was also at the Jan. 6 rally — but also said he didn't join the insurrection. He did lead legal and state legislative efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and would be empowered to choose Pennsylvania's next secretary of state if he wins the race for governor.

Next week brings more races, notably in Georgia and Texas, where pro-Trump candidates have endorsed lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 race. Those issues are clearly relevant in 2022 – and could be even more consequential in 2024.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

A draft of new congressional maps in New York released this week is already shaking up midterm races and now former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a congressional bid.

"Our neighborhoods need help as we recover from Covid. Our nation needs help as democracy is threatened and working people struggle. I am ready to serve to continue the fight against inequality," de Blasio wrote in a tweet announcing an exploratory committee for the new 10th congressional district which would now include his Brooklyn neighborhood.

PHOTO: In this April 3, 2022, file photo, Chirlane McCray and Bill de Blasio pose at the opening night of the new musical "Paradise Square" on Broadway at The Barrymore Theater in New York.
In this April 3, 2022, file photo, Chirlane McCray and Bill de Blasio pose at the opening night of the new musical "Paradise Square" on Broadway at The Barrymore Theater in New York.
Bruce Glikas/Getty Images, FILE

That seat, currently occupied by Rep. Jerry Nadler, would have to be vacated by the veteran congressman, as his Upper East Side home would now be a part of the 12th district. Some believe de Blasio would have a good shot at victory in the new NY-10.

"He can run on two issues, which is 'I'll stop the guns and I'll fight for choice,'" Hank Sheinkopf, a New York political consultant, told ABC News. "He's got large, large numbers of people who listen to him and voted for him in the past in that district today."

Nadler could face Rep. Carolyn Maloney in a member-on-member matchup caused by the map's new boundaries.

The move comes after de Blasio opted not to launch a gubernatorial bid following his two-term tenure as mayor of New York City.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

While the results of one of Pennsylvania's primary contests could take weeks to finalize, the outcome of elections in Texas, the first state to vote in 2022, will be tied up in less than a week.

The national reckoning over the draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade looms over the runoff for Texas' 28th Congressional District where moderate incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar is facing off for a second time against progressive, Jessica Cisneros. While the race was already contentious before news of the draft made headlines, the issue of abortion is taking center stage in the last days of the campaign given Cuellar's voting record as the sole anti-abortion Democrat in the House.

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday's runoff, Cisneros -- who has the backing of high-profile progressives like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley -- called on Democratic House leaders to revoke their endorsements of Cuellar due to his anti-abortion stance. The stakes are high -- a primary loss for a longtime incumbent in one of the nation's most conservative states would be a stunning upset and would signal that abortion access is a top issue for voters.

PHOTO: Rep. Henry Cuellar speaks during a campaign event, on May 4, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas.
Rep. Henry Cuellar speaks during a campaign event, on May 4, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP

Across the aisle, Republicans will once again test out whether Trump's endorsement is enough to carry a controversial candidate across the finish line in the runoff for Texas attorney general. During a recent rally in Austin, Texas, Trump reaffirmed his support for incumbent Ken Paxton, calling him "a fighter like no other," despite Paxton being the subject of a series of allegations tied to state and federal investigations.

His opponent, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, lost out on Trump's endorsement, which he sought despite his family's opposition to the former president's policies. Despite his family's deep ties to Texas politics, Bush is facing a hurdle as he attempts to distance himself from being seen as too much of a centrist for the current political climate within his party.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

50. That's the percentage of abortion patients who used contraception in the month they became pregnant per a report from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports legal abortion. And as FiveThirtyEight's Maggie Koerth and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux write, many women could be left with an unintended pregnancy if the Supreme Court does decide to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the constitutional right to abortion, this term. Read more from Maggie and Amelia on why birth control hasn't made abortion obsolete.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Thursday morning with ABC's Anne Flaherty on the latest COVID-19 surge. Then, ABC's Ian Pannell reports from Ukraine on the fall of Mariupol as two countries attempt to join NATO. And, ABC News contributor Christine Brennan details U.S. Soccer equalizing pay in new contracts.


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