Race for GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania coming down to wire

The polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Primary Day in Pennsylvania sees heated contests
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Pennsylvania's hotly contested primaries for governor and U.S. Senate will be decided.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The last full day of campaigning in Pennsylvania's hotly contested primaries for governor and U.S. Senate began Monday with a top Senate candidate in the hospital and establishment Republicans trying to stave off victories by candidates they worry will be unelectable in the fall.

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. Click here to find your polling place.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is leading in polls and fundraising in the Democratic Party's primary for U.S. Senate, remained in the hospital Monday after suffering a stroke right before the weekend.

His campaign said he won't appear at Tuesday's election night party in Pittsburgh, though Fetterman said Sunday that he is feeling better, expected to make a full recovery and will resume campaigning after getting some rest.

Meanwhile, new attack ads are airing against late-surging Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Barnette as many in the Republican Party establishment have begun trying to consolidate their support to prevent Doug Mastriano from winning the party's gubernatorial nomination in the presidential battleground state.

Some Republicans fear Barnette and Mastriano are too polarizing to beat Democratic opponents in a general election. Barnette and Mastriano have campaigned together, endorsed each other and promoted conspiracy theories, including former President Donald Trump's lies that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 election.

They also have spent a fraction of the money that some of their rivals have.

On Monday, photos surfaced apparently showing Barnette marching with members of the Proud Boys on January 6.

ABC News has verified the images that were first shared by an independent researcher and reached out to Barnette, but has not received a response.

She denied any connection to the Proud Boys to another network.

Muhlenberg College political science professor Christopher Borick says there is no indication the release of those photos will hurt Barnette in Tuesday's primary.

"A lot of Republicans that might not be very happy with the choices of McCormick and Oz started to look elsewhere, and elsewhere has pointed them in the direction of Kathy Barnette," said Borick, speaking about frontrunners Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick.

Oz and McCormick have spent a lot of time and money, nearly $30 million combined, tearing each other down. And it apparently worked.

SEE ALSO: Hear from the candidates running for governor and Senate in the 2022 Pennsylvania primary

Barnette seized on that opportunity while spending a fraction of what Oz and McCormick poured into this race.

Borick says a three candidate dead-heat primary for a high-profile race in Pennsylvania is pretty rare.

"In places like Pennsylvania, where it's hard to do retail politics given the size of the state, the expense of the media markets, we just don't have a lot of examples of candidates like her emerging at this stage of the race," he said.

Borick also doesn't believe news of Fetterman's stroke will hurt his chances of winning.

"It seems like folks like Conor Lamb or Malcolm Kenyatta never got the type of traction to be really competitive in this race. So, I would be surprised if Fetterman doesn't hang on in that race," he says.

In the governor's race, an organization that has reported spending about $13 million to boost Republican candidate Bill McSwain, a lawyer who was Donald Trump's appointee for U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, switched its allegiance to former congressman Lou Barletta barely two days before polls close.

Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, a business advocacy group whose political action committees are conduits for cash from billionaire Jeffrey Yass, said it believes Barletta has the best chance to beat Mastriano. The group is now calling on McSwain to drop out and endorse Barletta.

Mastriano, newly endorsed by Trump, belittled efforts by Republicans to defeat him and characterizes Democrats, including President Joe Biden, as far-left radicals.

"The swamp struck back, but they struck and they failed, they missed, and Donald Trump came in in the midst of their conspiring with each other's swamp-like creatures and endorsed me and cut the legs out from underneath them," Mastriano said in an interview Monday with the Light of Liberty podcast.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.