Laughlintown, PA — Army veteran and handyman Michael Testa, 51, is driving a minivan with a sticker labeled “Trump Won.”
He recently stood in the rain and mud for hours to attend Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania rally. He called himself a “conspiracy realist” and said he was one of the millions who believed the 2020 elections were stolen by the former president.
But when he was sitting on the front porch of Laughlintown, a small autonomous district in Westmoreland County, on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, where the Melon family once owned, he decided on Tuesday a candidate to vote for a Republican Senator in Pennsylvania. did not. He is worried about helping Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor supported by Mr. Trump.
“Even if it’s Trump, just because one person says that doesn’t mean he’s doing anything,” Testa said.
Like other Republican primaries across the country, Senate races in Pennsylvania test how strong Mr. Trump’s grip is against the party. But unlike other primaries this year, the Pennsylvania Senate suddenly shifted its focus to something else — a case study of whether the movement created by Mr. Trump is under his control.
In interviews with more than 20 Republican voters in western Pennsylvania, many repeated Mr. Testa’s ambiguity and uncertainty about Dr. Oz. state. These Republicans, including Testa, will instead vote for or are considering voting for far-right writer Kathy Barnette, a conservative media commentator who has surged to vote on a small budget. Stated.
In races that could determine Senate domination, we find that many Republicans in the state are deeply devoted to Mr. Trump, but at the same time, he is less dependent on his guidance. Trumpism is bigger than Trump, as Mr. Burnett himself put it on the road to the campaign.
Many voters said they and the former president chose those who believed they would carry out Mr. Trump’s ideals, even if they disagreed on who could best achieve it. And the interview shows how Barnett, who had never been in public office, effectively used her life story as a poor black child in the South to connect with voters in the white working class in western Pennsylvania. Was shown. At events and advertisements, Mr. Burnett often evokes the phrase “I am you.”
Many voters who said they were planning to vote for Mr. Burnett said they had a hard time remembering her name and supported “that black woman.”People who said she was voting for her said she was unaware of her history or she was unaware Homosexual disgust When Anti-Islam View. But her strong anti-abortion belief-Mr. Burnett calls herself a “by-product of rape” -was an important part of her appeal to white conservatives.
“I like what she represents,” said Dolores Murozinski, 83, who was immediately impressed when he first saw Mr. Burnett on the Christian television network. “She is nonsense and real.”
Understanding Pennsylvania Primary Elections
The important Swing State will remain primary on May 17, with major US Senate and Governor races taking place.
A few years ago, Mr. Rozinski and his daughter, Janey Mrozinski, a 62-year-old physiotherapist, watched Dr. Oz on television and praised him. Now, Elder Murozinsky said, “He doesn’t look real.”
“I don’t even know if he really lives in Pennsylvania,” she said, referring to Dr. Oz’s long history of life and voting in New Jersey. “He’s more like Hollywood than here and I’m not impressed.”
Her daughter added, “He seems to have done a facelift.” Meanwhile, former hedge fund executive and primary hedge fund David McCormick simply said, “Too many, I’m proud of myself.”
In many respects, voting for the Senate is as much a credibility dispute as any ideological or policy debate. Over the last few months, each of the key candidates has been working closely with Mr. Trump in an attempt to promote conservative qualifications. In a fierce battle between Dr. Oz, Mr. Burnett, and Mr. McCormick’s key candidates, all three worked hard to establish themselves as true MAGA warriors.
Some voters are clearly determined which one they believe is more authentic. But others have still decided.
A quick glance at John Alzberger’s Car Body Shop along Highway 8 in Butler County reveals his political trends. The “Let’s Go Brandon” flag pops out of the store’s marquee, and playing card tools cover a large wall near the entrance. When a customer asked him to bring Burnett’s lawn signout to the fore, he didn’t hesitate to agree. Still, the signs were just signs. He said he was undecided and was considering voting for either Mr. Burnett or Dr. Oz.
“She’s 100 percent on our side — closing the border, a professional life,” said 68-year-old Artzberger, Barnette. “If she gets it, she’ll benefit the people.” Like many other Republicans in Butler County, Alzberger looks down on Dr. Oz’s previous attention. increase.
“But again, Trump was also in the spotlight, and he really got to be with us,” he said. “Because I changed, he may have changed too.”
In Laughlintown, Westmoreland County, it takes about 10 steps from the entrance of Mr. Testa’s old craftsman to the entrance of the next small brick church. That short distance gives a glimpse of the Republican identity crisis.
Jonathan Huddleston, 48, Minister of Laughlin Town Christian Church, calls himself a Republican who never has Trump, but is partly committed to the party to “help vote for Wakko.” Continue to do. He is also undecided — he is considering voting for McCormick, who tried to win Trump’s support but failed.
“I want to help the world’s Romneys, rational leaders, and the people who first attracted me,” Huddleston said. “Now I’m looking for such a person. All other voices are drowning them.”
Some Republican voters said they tried to eliminate the flood of TV attack ads from McCormick and Dr. Oz, who each spent millions of dollars in the race. The opposition to Oz and McCormick’s ads seemed to benefit Mr. Burnett, who spends less than $ 200,000 on the campaign.
Understanding the 2022 midterm elections
Why are these midterms so important? This year’s race could pass on the balance of power in Congress to the Republicans and interfere with the agenda for the second half of President Biden’s term. They also test the role of former President Donald Trump as Republican champion. Here’s what you need to know:
70-year-old Ginny Gezel, who lives in Greensburg, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, said:
In 2020, registered Republican Gsell voted for President Biden after being convinced by his liberal daughter. But she said she was disappointed with his time at the White House. She will vote for the Republican primary on Tuesday, but it hasn’t been decided yet. She said she would decide by deciding who she thought was the most sincere.
“People should go to Washington to take care of the priorities of ordinary people, rather than taking care of themselves, becoming richer or more famous,” Gsell said. Told.
In downtown Butler, a working-class city north of Pittsburgh, 34-year-old waitress Britney Mihan said that two of her most important issues were “guns and weeds, two that usually don’t come together.” I said that.
“It was never sold in a Republican vote,” Mihan said, citing her commitment to uphold both gun rights and abortion rights. “I want a real person, not someone at that level, but someone who is just in contact as a human,” she added.
“When people disagree, we just have to listen to each other,” said Mr. Meehan, a shared sentiment of Laughlin Town Minister Huddleston.
“I want to be honest and respectful, but is that really impossible now?” Mr. Huddleston said one recent afternoon sitting in a church pew.
He thinks of voters like his neighbor, Mr. Testa, and wonders what happens to a moderate Republican like himself. The two knew each other, but did not talk directly about politics. He noticed a lot of bumper stickers on his neighbor. One of them wrote, “I vowed to protect from foreign and domestic.” He wondered what that meant. But for now, he said, “I don’t feel like asking his neighbor.”