(The Hill) – Club for Growth Action is endorsing Kathy Barnette in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary and providing air support for her in the final days before the May 17 nominating contest.
The super PAC, one of the most influential outside players in Republican primaries, announced its support for Barnette, a conservative commentator and former House candidate, on Wednesday as it launched a new television ad highlighting her biography. The buy is worth some $2 million, according to AdImpact, which tracks and analyzes political ad spending.
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“Democrats are serious when they say ‘fundamentally change this country,’ and by ‘fundamentally change’ they mean screw it up real good,” Barnette says in the ad. “This is about the survival of our nation and we need people who understand that.”
Club for Growth Action’s decision to wade into the Pennsylvania Senate race for Barnette marks the latest high-profile instance of the group breaking with former President Trump, who has already endorsed celebrity physician Mehmet Oz in the GOP primary.
The group once opposed Trump only to closely align itself with him during his presidency. And while Trump and the Club for Growth are still on the same page in places like North Carolina, where both are supporting Rep. Ted Budd’s (R-N.C.) bid for the Republican Senate nomination, there have been other instances of tension.
Club for Growth Action was a major backer of former Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s Senate campaign, putting it at odds with Trump, who endorsed author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the race. Vance won the GOP nomination last week.
The group’s support for Barnette, however, also comes as Barnette makes a last-minute surge in the polls, despite being heavily outspent in the primary.
Recent polls show Barnette surpassing former hedge fund CEO David McCormick in the Senate primary and only narrowly trailing Oz.
A Fox News poll of 1,001 Pennsylvania Republican voters found Oz with 22%, McCormick with 20%, and Barnette with 19% support in the May 17 primary.
Similarly, a recent Trafalgar poll has Oz leading with 24.5%, followed by Barnette at 23.2% and McCormick at 21.6%, all within the poll’s 2.99% margin of error.