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SELLERS: Could Oz and Mastriano Save Each Other in Pa.?

'I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. ... Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) It’s never easy to read the motives of “Swamp Turtle” Mitch McConnell, currently the most powerful Republican in elected office.

Although he always appears to be playing the long game, nobody else on the field seems to have the playbook—or know whose team he is on.

Could Cocaine Mitch, like the great Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox Eight, be betting against his own party to rig the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections in order to serve some personal objective?

His comments last week criticizing the caliber of GOP senatorial candidates certainly made it seem so.

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“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” he said at Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Florence, Ky. “… Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

AN UNSTEADY FIELD

Despite early hints that the 2022 primary season might be a repudiation of former President Donald Trump—or, at best, a mixed bag—his success rate has proven remarkably strong as party loyals largely reject the ineffective appeasement policies of Establishment RINOs like McConnell.

Nonetheless, several key GOP candidates in battleground states are reported to be lagging or underperforming in the polls—if the polls are to be trusted.

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Nevada’s Adam Laxalt, Arizona’s Blake Masters and Colorado’s Joe O’Dea are among the Trump-endorsed figures who hope to poach blue-occupied seats in the Senate, which is currently split 50–50 with Vice President Kamala Harris providing the tiebreaker vote.

But for every win, the GOP must also play strong defense—and concerns over Rep. Ted Budd’s North Carolina prospects linger, as well as the hopes of incumbent GOP Sens. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Marco Rubio in Florida.

The GOP’s three celebrity candidates have also become high-profile targets: Georgia’s Herschel Walker, Ohio’s JD Vance and Pennsylvania’s Mehmet Oz.

Of the three, only Vance’s campaign currently shows signs of life.

Walker, a former University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner and short-lived NFL great, may be the biggest let-down.

Although hopes were high of reclaiming the seat that Senate stop-gap appointee Kelly Loeffler ceded two years ago to Raphael Warnock to complete the term of the late Johnny Isakson, Walker’s lackluster run has failed to break through the defensive line.

Nonetheless, there is nothing more at stake in Walker’s race than a squandered opportunity, while Vance and Oz are both trying to hold the seats of retiring GOP Sens. Rob Portman and Pat Toomey, respectively.

No candidate looks more like a net-loss in the making than Oz, who currently trails Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman by a margin of 7.5%, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Alarmingly, a Fox News poll taken in July (when Fetterman was recovering from a stroke) showed the former TV quack with a double-digit deficit of 11%.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the GOP’s pro-MAGA pick for Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race, is behind state Attorney General Josh Stein by an average margin of 5.2%.

But by working in tandem, the two Trump endorsees could, theoretically, help drag each other across the finish line.

COMPLEMENTARY CANDIDATES

At a glance, no two candidates in a tag-team situation like Mastriano and Oz could seem more different—and yet their attributes may complement one another.

  • Mastriano is a campaign veteran with a firm grasp on the landscape of Pennsylvania politics, while Oz is so much a political outsider that questions loom as to whether he actually lives in the state.
  • Oz’s biggest attribute, on the other hand, is his mainstream appeal and celebrity—which Mastriano, dismissed in mainstream media as an “election denying” Jan. 6 candidate, could use toburnish his image somewhat.
  • While Mastriano’s views have been painted as tilting right of the GOP party line (following some notable clashes with do-nothing GOP leaders in the state legislature), Oz has faced considerable criticism and suspicion from the right-wing as a RINO who will buckle on issues like abortion and vaccine mandates when the next scamdemic arrives.

It makes great sense for the two to hit the campaign trail together, using their individual cred among various groups of Republicans to vouch for their fellow candidate’s appeal.

That, of course, assumes the clash of personalities wouldn’t spell catastrophe simply by putting them in the same room together.

Yet, even if they go their separate ways, the politically handcuffed odd couple might benefit from each other’s coattails and prove the polls once again false.

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

For the contest between Mastriano and Stein, there is a clear political dividing line that is unlikely to yield many crossover voters.

Their race comes down to voters’ attitudes about fraud in the 2020 election, with Stein having taken a lead role in unconstitutional efforts to rewrite election rules while circumventing the state legislature.

Mastriano subsequently took a lead role in the legislature’s efforts to investigate fraud allegations, but to little avail.

By contrast, the matchup between Oz and Fetterman is largely personality-driven, with Fetterman having cultivated his image as an everyday working-class schlub who happened to stumble into politics, and Oz the exact opposite—a member of the elite Establishment who fell, by pure happenstance, into the post-Trump Republican Party.

On paper, Fetterman is the weaker candidate in every regard except for his populist, common-man appeal.

Politically speaking, he is of the extreme left, although he has tried to downplay his former record of supporting socialism in a bid to appeal to centrists.

His health and personal background both present further liabilities: A recent stroke left him seriously incapacitated, and his parents supported him financially until the age of 50.

Fetterman also would stand a good chance of supplanting McConnell as the ugliest senator in terms of sheer physical appearance.

At 6 feet, 9 inches tall, bald but with a graying chin-beard and a history of morbid obesity (once clocking in at around 400 pounds), the hoodie-wearing candidate looks like he could be a literal ogre.

Oz, by contrast, is a world-renowned health expert with a face made for television and a brand of politics so tepidly inoffensive that both the Right and Left distrust him equally.

WINNER BY DEFAULT?

Although Oz’s primary battle broke down to a tight race between himself and another wealthy Establishment Republican, David McCormick, with Trump’s endorsement likely giving Oz the edge, true conservatives were left out in the cold.

Many threw their weight to Kathy Barnette, whose pro-life viral videos fueled a last-minute surge that left her with 24.7% of the GOP total.

She later vowed that she would never support Oz, and it is not likely that many of her supporters have come to regard him any more favorably.

It is equally unlikely that they’re rushing to return calls from the Trafalgar Group about which candidate they plan to pull the lever for. But barring a last-minute spoiler run by Barnette, that is hardly a question worth asking.

There is little to no chance that they will simply sit out the Nov. 8 election with Mastriano on the ballot, nor that they would pull the lever for Fetterman given the high stakes of the election and the number of negative factors working against him.

Whether he seeks the help of Mastriano, Trump (who plans a rally for the two candidates in Wilkes–Barre on Sept. 3) or any other marquee conservatives, Oz’s mission now should be bringing Barnette’s voters into the fold just enough so that they can hold their noses and vote for him, making him winner by default.

And while “Swamp Turtle” Mitch may still be stuck with the “ugliest Senator” award, his consolation prize for keeping his mouth shut will most likely be the return of his gavel as the new majority leader.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at truthsocial.com/@bensellers.

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