'Ultra-MAGA' frame gains traction for Democrats: The Note

Republicans may have helped Democrats put some meat on the "ultra-MAGA" bone.

May 20, 2022, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It looks like Democrats won't be campaigning on the economy or the stock market -- or baby-formula distribution for that matter.

But Republicans this week may have helped Democrats put some meat on the "ultra-MAGA" bones that President Joe Biden is favoring when it comes to midterm framing. Next week is likely to bring more GOP nominees who make similar campaign messaging make sense for the party in power.

The Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, is a 2020 election denier who was at Jan. 6 rally and played a key role in legal and legislative efforts to try to overturn the election. His Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, is labeling him a "dangerous extremist" who is "anti-democracy."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano gives a victory speech at his election-night party at The Orchards on May 17, 2022 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano gives a victory speech at his election-night party at The Orchards on May 17, 2022 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump has already injected election conspiracy theories into the state's Senate primary, which is almost certainly headed to a recount. Trump's candidate, Mehmet Oz, may or may not prevail, but all of the major candidates in that race sought to play up their connections to Trump.

Next week brings what could be even bigger tests of Trumpism and the appeal of the "big lie." Trump is working to defeat both Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in races that could linger into the summer if candidates don't crack 50%.

Texas' runoffs are also next week. Attorney General Ken Paxton – another leader in efforts to overturn the 2020 election – is squaring off to keep his job against Land Commissioner George P. Bush; Trump is with Paxton, but, again, both men want to be known as Trumpist candidates.

Still ahead this summer are hearings by the Jan. 6 committee that could implicate more GOP lawmakers and officeholders, as well as a looming Supreme Court decision widely expected to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Every week is bringing more external events contributing to a hostile political environment for Biden and the Democratic Party. But every week for a while now has also helped them underscore the stakes of the choices ahead in November.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed what could become the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country, banning the procedure at the point of conception.

The bill employs similar tactics to Texas' restrictive anti-abortion legislation, calling for residents to enforce it by bringing suits against people who perform, undergo, or aid a person seeking an abortion.

"Today's ban which encourages bounty hunters to sue their neighbors or strangers for accessing abortion care at any stage of pregnancy is a reversal of history happening in front of our eyes," said Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, on Thursday. "Once signed, abortion will be illegal in Oklahoma full stop."

PHOTO: Abortion-rights supporters rally at the State Capitol, May 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
Abortion-rights supporters rally at the State Capitol, May 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki/AP

If Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the legislation into law, it could be interpreted as his effort to fulfill his earlier pledge to make Oklahoma "the most pro-life state in the country."

This, in addition to the looming Supreme Court decision expected to overturn the landmark abortion decision in Roe v. Wade has sparked outrage from those who support access. The news came as Vice President Kamala Harris addressed abortion providers.

"A ban that would outlaw abortion from the moment of fertilization. Think about that for a second. From the moment of fertilization. It's outrageous, and it's just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country," Harris said of the Oklahoma bill.

If the legislation goes into effect, it won't only impact Oklahomans. Texans have been seeking abortions in the state following the passage of the six-week abortion ban. Now future patients may have to travel even farther to in search of abortion care.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The margin of votes separating Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary is shrinking, and so is the number of outstanding votes. As officials continue to count ballots across the state, the outcome of the election is once again putting the processing of mail ballots in the spotlight.

As of Thursday, there were about 38,000 mail and absentee ballots that were yet to be counted, according to the secretary of state's office. Although the vast majority were Democratic ballots -- 8,700 belong to Republicans -- those votes will weigh into deciding which candidate ultimately comes out on top.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump, speaks at a campaign rally in Greensburg, Pa., on May 6, 2022.
Former President Donald Trump, speaks at a campaign rally in Greensburg, Pa., on May 6, 2022.
Gene J. Puskar/AP, FILE

The prospect of the remaining tally appears to be giving the McCormick campaign confidence despite the ​likelihood of a looming automatic recount. Amid the fallout from Tuesday's primary, a senior campaign official laid out a few factors the team believes will work in McCormick's favor including his lead in absentee ballots, as well as his odds with military voters whose overseas ballots can be accepted as late as Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Oz campaign says it believes its candidate's lead is already insurmountable regardless of existing tight margins.

The opposite situation is playing out across the aisle. Despite there being 29,000 Democratic ballots yet to be counted, the days after the primary only cemented Lt. Gov. John Fetterman's decisive win. The Democratic candidate for Senate now heads into the general election having won each of the state's 67 counties.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

7. That's the percentage-point lead that the center-left Australian Labor Party has over the Coalition, a political alliance of conservative-leaning political parties led by the Liberal Party, in two-party preference polling, according to The Poll Bludger's average of recent surveys run by elections analyst William Bowe. Recent polls have shown a tightening race, as FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley writes, but as long as the ALP is able to maintain a roughly three-point lead over the Coalition, it should be enough to give it a majority -- something it hasn't had in nine years. Read more from Geoffrey on Australia's upcoming election.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning on Start Here begins with Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux describing Oklahoma's restrictive abortion bill. And, ABC's Rebecca Jarvis explains the stock market turmoil and possibility of a bear market. Then, ABC's Martha Raddatz reports on submariners training for nuclear warfare. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Monday for the latest.

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