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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

McCormick Sues Over Undated Mail Ballots In Pennsylvania Senate Primary

(Reuters) - Senate candidate David McCormick has filed a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania court to compel counties to count undated mail-in ballots in his primary race against TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, whom he trails by less than 1,000 votes.

The race between McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, and Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, for the Republican Party nomination is close enough to trigger an automatic recount under Pennsylvania state law.

While McCormick is slightly behind Oz after the May 17 vote, he is well ahead of his opponent in absentee ballots, according to polling firm Edison Research. McCormick has received 45,794 mail-in votes, compared with Oz, who has 32,944.

In a statement, McCormick's campaign said it sued on Monday in Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court "to compel the counties to follow the [Republican-leaning] Third Circuit Court order from last week stating that undated ballots returned on time be counted."

The statement added that the ballots "are postmarked upon arrival to county boards of elections and, therefore, already dated and proven to be timely."

It was not clear how many mail-in ballots lack a handwritten date, and whether counting them could help McCormick or make a recount less likely. State election officials expect to know this week whether a recount will be needed.

Pennsylvania's Department of State, which oversees elections, said it agreed that undated ballots must be counted in the May 17 race, but advised they be "segregated" and "appropriately logged pending litigation."

"A determination on whether the segregated tabulations will be used in certifying elections has not yet been made, given the ongoing litigation," it said.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party said on Twitter that they "absolutely object to the counting of mail-in ballots. Pennsylvania law and our courts have been very clear that undated ballots are not to be counted."

In a statement on Twitter, Oz called McCormick's lawsuit "a tactic that could have long-term harmful consequences for elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis)

McCormick Vote Climbs With Mail Ballots In Pennsylvania, Enraging Trump

A recent run-in with a familiar enemy, mail-in ballots, has left former President Trump intensifying his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate race, which other Republicans, even the candidate he endorsed, Mehmet Oz, have refused to embrace.

After urging Oz to “declare victory” in his party’s too-close-to-call senate race — which Trump did himself in 2020 — the former president has again resorted to questioning the legitimacy of votes that arrived by mail, seething in fury as his candidate’s lead dwindles rapidly.

"Here we go again! In Pennsylvania, they are unable to count the Mail-In Ballots. It is a BIG MESS," Trump wrote on Truth Social, his much-ridiculed social media platform.

Oz still holds a narrow 980 vote lead over his rival, David McCormick, a former hedge fund manager Trump labeled a “Liberal Wall Street Republican.” However, mail-in ballots have appeared to favor McCormick, putting him in proximity with Oz in a race that’s well within the threshold for an automatic recount.

State officials have continued working long hours tallying ballots, including those mailed in. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing in the process — which is the same in every other election.

However, Trump appears to care little about the hardworking Pennsylvanian election officials as he did those in Georgia, Arizona, and other states he accused of engineering and facilitating voter fraud in 2020.

“It’s very reminiscent of what we saw in 2020,” said Al Schmidt, a former Philadelphia city election commissioner. According to the Washington Post, Schmidt faced death threats after Trump tweeted at him in 2020. “It’s an indication that he’s not confident that his candidate is going to win. When it looks like you’re losing, you want to flip the board game over — you’re clearly afraid of the outcome,” Schmidt added.

Pat Toomey, the Republican senator whose retirement has opened the hotly contested seat, voiced his admiration for Oz and McCormick, neither of whom has disseminated Trump’s false fraud claims.

“That’s not the least bit surprising given his history and what we know about Donald Trump,” Toomey said, reacting to Trump’s relentless fraud claims. “It’s much to Mehmet Oz’s credit that he hasn’t adopted that rhetoric and seems to be adhering to what used to be the conventional view that all the legal ballots should be counted.”

Haunted by ghosts of election losses past, Trum, posted Thursday morning on Truth Social: “The Pennsylvania Oz race is ridiculous. How long does it take to count votes. France, same day all paper, had VERIFIED numbers in evening. U.S. is a laughingstock on Elections. Stop FINDING VOTES in PENNSYLVANIA! RIGGED?”

Naturally, Trump’s bogus claims, which have no basis in fact, mirror the false allegations he made before, during, and after Election Day in 2020.

According to MSNBC's Steve Kornacki, Oz is still on track to score big in mail-in ballots because he’s fairing better in Lancaster County’s mail-in voting, which has the biggest stack of uncounted GOP mail-in ballots.

Fox Primes Viewers For ‘Election Fraud’ Chaos In Pennsylvania

Fox News prime-time host Sean Hannity is priming his audience to see election fraud in any defeat for Dr. Mehmet Oz, his favored candidate who currently leads the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania with two percent of votes outstanding. If the fast-closing hedge funder Dave McCormick takes the lead and the Oz camp claims the election has been stolen, it could set up a potentially explosive proxy war with Hannity’s colleague Laura Ingraham, whose Fox program favors McCormick and has suggested he is likely to prevail when all the votes are counted.

The GOP primary was a chaotic slugfest that split Fox’s slate of pro-GOP hosts in an unusually public way. Hannity was Oz’s most prominent supporter, reportedly securing the support of former President Donald Trump and using his program to endorse the TV personality, give him a regular platform, and target the challenge from right-wing commentator and Fox & Friends regular Kathy Barnette. Ingraham, meanwhile, used her Fox program (which airs in the hour following Hannity’s) to promote McCormick, criticize Oz, and defend Barnette.

Tuesday’s election is currently too close to call, with Oz holding a roughly 1,200-vote lead over McCormick, 31. percent to 31.1 percent, according to the Associated Press. McCormick has gained ground as officials continue counting ballots, and the election appears headed to a recount.

Trump, Hannity, and the bulk of Hannity’s Fox and right-wing media colleagues dishonestly sought to delegitimize the 2020 election results when mail-in ballots helped President Joe Biden win key states. Their cynical attempt to subvert the vote and terminate the American republic led inexorably to January 6, 2021, when a riotous mob of Trump supporters sacked the U.S. Capitol as they sought to thwart the peaceful transition of power.

Hannity and Trump are now deploying the same playbook in Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Oz should declare victory,” Trump suggested on his social media site Wednesday morning. “It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find.’”

A few hours later, Hannity similarly baselessly raised the prospect of election fraud on his nationally syndicated radio show.



Hannity similarly portrayed the election as a done deal on his Fox show that night.

“I've been crunching numbers all day. I've been talking to people all day. I've been checking county websites all day. And I have my belief that, worst case scenario, this comes out in Oz's favor,” Hannity told his guest, the pollster Matt Towery.

Towery agreed with Hannity’s analysis, saying, “There aren't enough votes here to make this a reversal in who's leading. It could take it down more, maybe even to 600, but I don't think it can change the lead."

And Oz himself appeared and took Trump’s advice, telling Hannity’s audience, “This election is ours.”

Hannity viewers who kept watching after the program ended received a very different message from Ingraham’s show.

The analyst Ingraham hosted to discuss the race, Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito, said that based on the outstanding ballots, “If you ask me tonight whose campaign I would want to be in, it would probably be McCormick’s.”

And then McCormick himself came on and, at Ingraham’s urging, disputed Oz’s claim that he had won.


As the midterm elections approach, Trump and Hannity have learned to expect no negative consequences for convincing their fans to believe outlandish lies about rigged elections. Trump remains the head of the Republican Party, while Hannity retains his dual role at Fox and as a GOP operative. Their impulse to treat any electoral defeat as fraudulent now risks chaos for the GOP in Pennsylvania and on Fox’s airwaves – and sets the stage for a similar, dangerous play for the White House in 2024.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Kathy Barnette Blames Everybody Else For Her Muslim-Baiting Tweets

Kathy Barnette, a Trumpist conspiracy-peddling Republican candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race who has been rising through the ranks, speeding even past big-spending rivals, is facing waves of criticism and public backlash for her past anti-Muslim tweets.

On Sunday, in an interview with Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream, after bobbing and weaving on questions probing her military service, Barnette tried to downplay the gravity of Islamophobic tweets that she had penned.

“If you love freedom, Islam must NOT be allowed to thrive under any condition,” Barnette declared in a 2014 tweet. However, her anti-Muslim rant didn’t end there. Her later tweets would hone in on an even bigger target: former President Barack Obama.

"Obama is a Muslim. Doing Muslim like THINGS!" Barnette tweeted in 2016, pushing false claims about the former president’s faith. Referencing the Iran nuclear deal, Barnette targeted Obama, a devout Christian, again later that year in another tweet. "Obama would NEVER lie or evade the American people. He's a Muslim, errrr, American."

When Bream pressed Barnette about the anti-Islam tweets, the GOP Senate candidate took a leaf from the GOP playbook and blamed others for her actions. She lobbed the blame for her social media rant on Obama and Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country.

"Let me just say in almost all of those tweets...especially when you look at the timeframe we were living in, at that particular time, we had the Obama administration bringing in a lot of Syrian refugees at that time,” Barnette told Bream.

Barnette also tried to pass off the resurfacing of her old tweets as a political attack that showed how desperate her opponents are.

“I can’t provide a lot of context because, again, it’s almost ten years ago. That’s how far they have to go back to find anything on me,” she said.

The media was also to blame, according to Barnette. “I have not embellished on my record,” she said. “I have been running this race now for about 13 months, and if you listen to the mainstream media, you would think I crawled from under a rock yesterday.”

In 2020, after losing her first run at Congress by an eye-popping 19 percentage points, Barnette became a willing mouthpiece for former President Trump’s bogus claims of widespread voter fraud, particularly in the votes that were cast by mail.

"I even secured more votes than the president, showing that my American message had a crossover effect," she fumed after her stinging loss to the Democratic Incumbent, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA).

"I have no idea how we as Americans have allowed the greatest nation to become the equivalent of having elections as the equivalent of Afghanistan with progressive liberals looking a whole lot like the Taliban,” Barnette had added.

After an unsuccessful blame-game attempt, Barnette distanced herself from her past tweets, which she called “incomplete thoughts.”

“At that time, I was hosting a show called ‘Truth Exchange’ and I would have all kinds of ideas and was leaning in to helping the public begin to have those conversations, and so those were some of the — that’s the context around a lot of those tweets,” Barnette said during the Fox interview.

“The overwhelming majority of the tweets that are now being presented are not even full thoughts. They’re not even full sentences and yet people take it and they begin to build their own narrative around it,” she added.

Trump has assailed Barnette, calling her unvetted and unelectable, according to the New York Times. “Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the general election against the radical left Democrats,” Trump said in a statement.

Battlecry Of Republican Primary Rumbles: 'You're Soft On China!'

With most conservative candidates in primary races across the country pledging allegiance to former President Trump and disseminating his Big Lie, what is a Republican candidate to do to get ahead? Why, just accuse their Republican opponent of having ties to China, of course!

Spurious, misleading, and even exaggerated accusations of connections with China are a source of anxiety for Republicans in the 2022 races, while campaign strategists and candidates have labeled such allegations a “prime attack in a Republican primary,” according to the Washington Post.

Incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — who is running against four other candidates in the Peach State primary, chief among them former Senator David Perdue — ran a TV spot accusing hisTrump-backed rival Perdue of outsourcing jobs to China before becoming a senator.

"Millionaire David Perdue got rich sending jobs to China," the narrator in Kemp’s ad claimed. The ad used a clip of Perdue in his days before the Senate, when he said, "I lived over there. I’ve been dealing with China for over 30 years," and another clip from a Georgia Public Broadcasting interview where Perdue claimed, “We outsourced every single product that we sold in our stores."

Kemp’s communications director touted the effectiveness of the China ad in a statement to the Post. “We tested a number of hits, and that was the best-polling one — the outsourcing to China.” Tying Perdue to China has become central to the incumbent governor’s paid advertising and messaging.

Invoking China is a crucial strategy in the Pennsylvania primary, too. Candidate Mehmet Oz, whom Trump is backing, has accused opponent David McCormick of carrying out business deals with China. McCormick struck back, as one would expect, alleging that Oz made bank from dealings with Chinese state TV and patronized products made in China.

In a blistering attack last Friday night, Trump accused McCormick of being a “liberal Wall Street Republican” who has managed money for China. “I don’t know David well, and he may be a nice guy, but he’s not MAGA,” the former president added.

A pollster who has worked for Trump and is polling in many 2022 primaries told the Post that tough talk on US-China relations, even far-fetched claims, is all the rage in this year’s Republican primary debates because that’s what Republican voters want to hear.

“If you coddle China, or you are soft on China, that makes you not so much America first and not so tough,” pollster Tony Fabrizio said. “Being tagged as soft on China is not a good thing. Trump focused and catalyzed some of it. But China has been seen as the primary world foe for at least the last decade or more.”

Fabrizio also spoke of a poll he conducted earlier this year which showed that Republicans consider China a bigger threat to national security than Russia, even after Russia’s missile bombardment of Ukraine has claimed thousands of civilian lives.

Two years of battling the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with Trump’s litany of anti-China messaging, has increased the Republican voters' negative perception of China. In March, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs conducted a poll that found that 75 percent of Republicans considered Beijing’s development a “critical threat” to the interests of the United States of America, up from 67 percent in 2020 and 42 percent in 2018, according to the Washington Post.

Last year, Trump’s team ran a poll to ascertain the former president’s most effective messages and found that the former president’s supporters love his attacks on China.

An informal adviser for Trump, Michael Pillsbury, weighed in on this seismic perception shift. “It is something quite new — Republicans used to be the business of party and free trade,” Pillsbury told the Washington Post. “And I remember during the early considerations of President Trump — putting heavy tariffs on China — there were voices within the White House and within the party that this goes against Republican traditions.”

“The current mood toward China,” Pillsbury added, “is darker than it has been in decades in the United States.”

Republican Candidates Vilifying Fauci To Excite Their Base Voters

In a Republican Party dependent on ginning up its base's rage, the villain of choice has become President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who now often supplants GOP archenemy and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

As the New York Times reports, "Fire Fauci" became the inaugural ad for Jane Timken last fall as she launched her bid to win Ohio's open Senate seat. Wackadoodle celebrity doc Mehmet Oz, who's running for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat, doesn't want to debate his opponents—he wants to debate Fauci. And Wisconsin Democrat-turned-Republican Kevin Nicholson, who's running for governor, said Fauci "should be fired and referred to prosecutors.”

In Fauci, many Republicans see an amalgam of favorite conservative resentments.

“Populism is essentially anti: anti-establishment, anti-expertise, anti-intellectual and anti-media,” GOP strategist Whit Ayres told the Times. Fauci, he added, “is an establishment expert intellectual who is in the media.”

But while demonizing Fauci could whip up the GOP base, the strategy could just as easily haunt Republicans in the general election, as Ayres noted.

However, another GOP strategist, John Feehery, argued that anger at Fauci over lockdowns was an issue that could cross party lines with voters desperate to move on from the pandemic.

But it wouldn't be the first time Republicans fixated on a base strategy that saddles them in the general election. One big question is whether the pandemic will still have the resonance it does today.

The strong and steady U.S. recovery is starting to suggest that the nation's economy has moved beyond the reaches of the highly unpredictable pandemic. Some Democratic officials are also ending pandemic restrictions that had been in place for months on end. Democratic governors in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware have all laid out timelines for ending statewide mask mandates in schools and elsewhere.

So while Republicans fixate on Fauci and the pandemic, Democrats are working to move the nation beyond its clutches.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos