The TAKE with Rick Klein
The next seven days could be the most consequential stretch of the peak season — especially for Republicans, who face a string of Senate races where endorsements from President Donald Trump raise concerns about the types of candidates the party will propose this year.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters will go through a wild Senate GOP race. Trump’s choice of Dr. Mehmet Oz for the Senate has opened up an unlikely lead on Kathy Barnette, a black veteran with an inspiring personal history but a long history of controversial statements and actions — including revealing on Monday that she last marched with protesters to the Capitol on Jan. 6 .
Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks to supporters during a campaign halt in Ellijay, Georgia May 14, 2022.
Even before that race is played, Republican concerns extend to Tuesday’s primary in Georgia. Trump’s support of Herschel Walker for the Senate leaves him in a dominant position in a campaign in which he has avoided debates with GOP rivals entirely – while largely refusing to discuss allegations of domestic violence, physical threats to women and stalking.
“There’s a pattern of distracting, procrastinating, running, hiding, turning,” Gary Black, the Georgia commissioner of agriculture and Walker’s top-polled Republican challenger, told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff for a story aired on Tuesday’s Nightline ‘ is broadcast. “This is unacceptable for service in the United States Senate. In my opinion, most Georgians will agree with that.”
Lt. gov. Geoff Duncan, R-Ga., told Nightline that Walker needs to deal with issues from his past ahead of next Tuesday’s primary: “If he doesn’t do that, I think it’s going to be a tough day in Georgia when we get to the November elections, and unfortunately we’re going to send another Democrat to represent us as a US Senator.”
Walker and his campaign insist that he healed all past transgressions and took responsibility for them. In a statement to ABC News, his campaign called bringing up old allegations “an obvious political success” and said Walker addressed his past in a book he wrote and in a 2008 interview with Woodruff.
Unlike races in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, most of the national Republican establishment has chosen not to oppose Trump in the Georgia Senate race. Walker’s fame and affiliation with Trump led many to believe he would be a strong candidate to unite the party against Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.
Trump has taken a particular interest in Georgia, which he lost in November 2020 and where he continues to falsely claim the election was stolen from him. Many Republicans haven’t forgotten either — or how Trump’s false claims may have dampened turnout enough that the GOP lost both Senate seats in the January 2021 runoff.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
In the wake of the racially motivated rampage at a Buffalo grocery store, many have called for the normalization of the once marginal idea of white “replacement theory.”
The conspiracy theory is rooted in the claim that there is a plot to reduce white influence through demographic change and immigration by outnumbering them. It was the subject of the alleged Buffalo gunman’s 180-page document, which espoused racist and anti-Semitic ideologies. All 10 victims killed in the rampage were black.
While there is a well-documented history of threats and acts of racial violence in this country that have coincided with people of color’s quest for and seizure of political power, the intensity of this theory in the dark corners of the internet has increased in recent years.
Police officers secure the crime scene following a shooting at the TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, NY May 15, 2022.
Some far-right lawmakers have used threads of theory to bolster their bases. Some conservative media outlets have also acted with similar rhetoric. An Associated Press-NORC poll found that 42% of Republicans believe in the conspiracy.
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik got heated Monday over a Facebook ad on her campaign page that accused Democrats of trying to amnesty undocumented immigrants to “overthrow our current electorate.” In a statement, an advisor to Stefanik called the criticism a “new disgusting low point for the left.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., appeared earlier this year at a conference hosted by white nationalist groups, a move drawing criticism from lawmakers and groups on both sides of the aisle became.
“The GOP leadership of the House of Representatives has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends far worse,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. “@GOP leaders must abandon and reject these views and those who hold them.”
Cheney’s rebuke comes as law enforcement officials are investigating the Buffalo shooting as a hate crime and Homeland Security officials are warning that domestic violent extremists may be capitalizing on abortion and immigration debates to incite violence.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
After a tumultuous final stretch of the campaign trail, Pennsylvanians head to the polls on Tuesday amid an evolving Senate primary landscape after being beaten by Lt. gov. John Fetterman’s stroke and the ongoing three-way battle between Dr. Mehmet Oz, Kathy Barnette and Dave McCormick have experienced.
Barnette’s growing profile continues to reveal details of past actions that could pose hurdles if she were to become a candidate for the general election. ABC News has verified two videos of Barnette marching towards the Capitol on Jan. 6, but no images are known to suggest Barnette breached the Capitol. The videos were brought to light by independent researcher Chad Loder on Twitter.
A still from video streamed Jan. 6 shows Republican Senate candidate from Pennsylvania Kathy Barnette attending the Jan. 6, 2021 march in Washington.
ABC News reached out to Barnette’s campaign for comment but received no response. The campaign told NBC News, which also corroborated Loder’s research, that “Kathy was in DC supporting President Trump and demanding election accountability. Any claim that she participated in or assisted in the destruction of property is intentionally false. She has no affiliation with the Proud Boys.”
In an interview with Breitbart Radio on Monday, Barnette said she would not support Oz or McCormick if they win, adding, “I have no intention of supporting globalists.”
Meanwhile, across the aisle, Democrats face the unknown factor of how Fetterman’s health scare might affect turnout. On Monday, his campaign announced that the lieutenant governor would not be attending his election night event in Pittsburgh and would instead continue his recovery in the hospital. His wife, Gisele Fetterman, is said to moderate election evening events.
NUMBER OF THE DAY powered by FiveThirtyEight
52 That’s the percentage of Americans who said their number one concern was inflation in the first FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll. In partnership with Ipsos, FiveThirtyEight will conduct six polls by Election Day, polling the same group using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel. Read more from FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley and Holly Fuong on what Americans think about inflation and how it’s impacted their lives.
ABC News’ Start Here Podcast. Tuesday morning on Start Here begins with updates on the Buffalo convenience store shootings and the broader context of the “surrogate theory.” ABC’s Pierre Thomas and Homeland Security expert John Cohen describe new details. Then ABC’s Matt Gutman reports on the motive behind the California church shooting. And ABC’s Rachel Scott explains the key developments in Pennsylvania. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as your interest for the hottest political analysis of the day.
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest information.