GOP launches Operation Stop Barnette

“I think what’s happened is neither Oz nor McCormick have excited anybody,” said John Brabender, a Republican strategist who is a veteran of Pennsylvania campaigns and is not working for a candidate in the Senate primary. “They’ve spent a lot of money and people viewed it as millionaires behaving badly — they were looking for any alternative that they could find.”

Oz and McCormick weren’t the only ones caught off-guard by Barnette’s late surge. Many Republican political consultants at the state and national levels also didn’t see it coming. Though she had been slowly rising in the polls in recent weeks, the release of a Fox News survey Tuesday, showing her in a tight race with Oz and McCormick, confirmed her momentum was undeniable…

Despite panic about Barnette among some top Republicans, officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has declined to get involved in any open-seat primaries this cycle, are publicly keeping their cool. In a political environment favorable to Republicans this year, the group argued there is still no clear evidence Barnette would lose to the Democratic nominee.

“I don’t think anyone can say right now she’s unelectable in the general election, but certainly she’s unvetted, and there are a lot of unknowns,” said a person familiar with the NRSC’s strategy. “We’re not setting our hair on fire.”

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