Kathy Barnette, a Republican former U.S. Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, hinted on Monday at possibly supporting primary winner Mehmet Oz, something she previously refused to do. 

An Army Reserve veteran, political commentator, and former adjunct finance professor who lives in Huntingdon Valley – a Montgomery County town neighboring Bryn Athyn where Oz lives – Barnette earlier balked at voting for the celebrity surgeon. On Primary Election Day, May 17, the eventual third-place finisher declared she had “no intentions of supporting globalists,” referring to Oz and fellow top-tier candidate Dave McCormick.

It became apparent after election night last month that either Oz or McCormick would win the nomination by a whisker as counties took several days to count absentee votes. McCormick conceded to Oz last week.

In her five-minute video message, Barnette never said explicitly whether she would cast a vote for Oz, never mind whether she would campaign for him. Throughout her oration, she kept coming back to one theme regarding herself and her supporters: their “voices matter.” 

“I specifically believe that the voices of those over 330,000-plus Pennsylvanians who came out and voted for me, I believe their voice matters,” the former candidate said. “These particular people, they defied the establishment, they defied what some of the influencers within our party [were] telling them to do. They even defied [former President Donald] Trump himself in order to come out and vote for me and I believe that their voices matter.” 

Trump endorsed Oz in early April. After polling showed Barnette gaining traction in May, the former president and some of his allies like Fox News host Sean Hannity sharply criticized the insurgent candidate. 

Whether she is willing to treat such criticisms and differences with Oz as bygones remains to be seen. Barnette stated in her video recording that she expects the nominee to make a formidable effort to win the Keystone State in November. Nothing less, she said, would win the support of “those particular people who came out and voted for me or the ones who came out and voted for any of the other candidates….”

Only once did Barnette mention any onus she or her own backers may have to contribute to an Oz victory. 

“Trump gave Oz this primary win,” she said. “But I do not believe that Trump alone is going to give Oz the general win. And as a result, Oz is going to have to do the hard work of campaigning for himself. It’s going to take a village. All of us – myself included – are going to have to come out and support him, but I believe it is his responsibility to make sure that he earns that support.”

Barnette suggested that her willingness to back him will depend on whether his policy vision ultimately reflects the conservatism that motivated her own supporters to vote for her on May 17. 

“My fidelity is to the over 330,000 Pennsylvanians who came out and voted for me and to them alone,” she declared. “I owe no one anything and I have no interest in just giving anything to anyone. No one certainly gave anything to me; I had to go out there and earn it.”

Oz will face Lt. Governor John Fetterman (D) in the general election in November. They are competing to succeed retiring Senator Pat Toomey (R) who has served since 2011.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kathy Barnette” by Kathy Barnette for Senate. Photo “Dr. Mehmet Oz” by Dr. Mehmet Oz. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Martin Falbisoner. CC BY-SA 3.0.