PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) – With less than a week until the Pennsylvania Senate primary election, Kathy Barnette is surging both in the polls and in critics with more establishment Republicans.
As her popularity rises, so do questions surrounding her background and whether she’s ready to be a U.S. Senator.
Pennsylvania State Representative Frank Ryan released a lengthy statement on Wednesday and reiterated concerns Thursday that Barnette’s military background has not been thoroughly vetted.
“Some of the stuff didn’t make sense in terms of details and when I tried to find details, I couldn’t find any details,” said Ryan.
Barnette’s campaign website says “she served her country proudly for ten years in the Armed Forces Reserves, where she was accepted into Officer Candidacy School.”
The Washington Examiner released a set of questions posed to Barnette’s campaign, including where she went to Officer Candidacy School, and were told that Barnette “keeps her early life as private as possible.”
A new online ad and website popped up from “American Leadership Action” labeling her “Crazy Kathy Barnette, Pennsylvania’s Wackiest Senate Candidate” with clips of Barnette discussing “white racism”
Open Secrets shows the group is a pro-Oz Super PAC that has spent $4.5 million against Republican candidates and only $250,000 in support of a candidate. Search data appears to show the website used to be an anti-McCormick platform, claiming “in January 2003, David McCormick eliminated 50 Pittsburgh jobs. Soon thereafter, McCormick created 100 new jobs in Asia.”
And on Thursday former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz, said Barnette “has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted.”
In an interview with abc27’s Dennis Owens late Thursday afternoon, Barnette said she doesn’t “have any bones that are gonna fall out of my closet.”
Barnette says she’s wanted to be vetted, but the media didn’t pay enough attention to her early in the race when she was finishing third behind Oz and McCormick. A WHTM/Emerson College Polling/The Hill Pennsylvania primary poll released on April 7 had Barnette six to seven points behind Oz and McCormick and tied with Jeff Bartos and Carla Sands
When asked about her military credentials, Barnette said she served in the Army Reserves in Alabama and Missouri from 1990 to 2000. An Alabama National Guard spokesman confirmed Barnette served there from 1993 to 98.
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Rep. Ryan, who served in the Marines for 30 years, said there are too many questions about Barnette that need to be answered by Republicans now or else they’ll be exploited by Democrats in November.
“Kathy is a really nice person,” said Ryan. “But I don’t want this to surface in September, October, November and then we all have egg on our face because no one asked the question.”
Barnette added that there was a misunderstanding between the Washington Examiner reporter and her lean and mean campaign staff. She says she’s done everything she can to get her name out there before May 17.
“I have done nothing wrong and I refuse to receive that or to apologize for anything. I’m unapologetic. I have been here. I have been trying to knock down people’s doors to get in, to have them to talk to me. And people just shut me out. They didn’t want to talk to me. I’ve been instead of doing this vetting five days before the election, I’ve been in a statistical tie for first place for four weeks. I’m I keep saying that it’s not my fault. It’s theirs.”
Unlike Oz and McCormick, Barnette has spent less than $2 million in a race where the airwaves have been dominated by other candidates.
“What do you think they’re going to do with your money when they get to D.C.,” asked Barnette. “Do you think they’re going to become fiscal conservatives? I don’t think so.”
On Wednesday Barnette was endorsed by the super PAC “Club for Growth Action,” which launched a $2 million ad buy supporting her. She’s also been endorsed by Senator Joni Ernst, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, and Michael Flynn.
Barnette’s website has years of Fox News interviews where she’s recognized as a “Radio Show Host.”
Pennsylvania’s Senate election is May 17.
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