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Poll shows key GOP primary race is neck and neck

Plus, at least 18 Pa. abortion bills are already pending.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 6, 2022
Primary pulse, post-Roe, uphill battles, rules for thee, campaign checks, tax refund, and the 'Angel of Ashland.' It's Friday. This is PA Post.
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Former President Donald Trump will be in Greensburg today to stump for his pick in Pennsylvania's Republican U.S. Senate primary, Mehmet Oz.

Politico reports Trump's win-record on endorsements has been particularly strong this year, but Oz is polling only two points ahead of his nearest GOP rival, with a large swath (39%) of the electorate still undecided.

In the Democratic primary for the seat, a new Franklin & Marshall College poll of registered Democrats has 53% backing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. His nearest competitor, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D., Pa.), is at 14%.

Twenty-two percent of the Democrats polled are undecided. Half of those with a stated preference say they could still change their mind.

Politico reports a cryptocurrency super PAC is dropping $200,000 on pro-Fetterman ads through May 17 to further his chances. 

In the Republican primary for governor, 20% of the GOP voters polled said they plan to vote for state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), who is followed by Bill McSwain at 12%. Thirty-four percent are still undecided. 

But even among those with a chosen candidate in that race, pollsters found more than half (53%) saying their choice could change.

Trump has yet to make an endorsement in the Republican governor's race. He did, however, issue an anti-endorsement against McSwain.

THE CONTEXT: The same F&M poll found that more than half of the voters surveyed in late April (52%) said they don’t like the way elections are run or administered in Pennsylvania — a significant uptick.

In a similar poll conducted before the 2020 presidential election, just 24% of Pennsylvania voters were similarly dissatisfied.

Election experts tell LNP a steady drip of unsubstantiated fraud claims from Trump and other Republicans is a key reason for the shift

Those who said they are dissatisfied in this latest poll were far more likely to be Republicans (72%) than Democrats (29%). More than half of independents and third-party voters said they don't like the way elections are run.

The AP reports unsubstantiated fraud claims have been common on the Republican campaign trial in this primary. But the tool for mobilizing Republican voters in May could be a liability come November.


"I resent the fact that you want to castigate anyone who went down to Washington D.C. on January 6th as some kind of enemy of the public. That is dangerous. You're talking like an East German there."

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) ending a podcast interview after being asked about his attendance at a recent QAnon-linked rally and the Jan. 6 protest that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol
» A complete guide to the May 17 primary, including how to vote, find your polling place, understand mail-in ballots, and more

» How to make sure your mail ballot is counted in the primary

» A guide to the overlooked race for Pa. lieutenant governor

» Your guide to the Democratic and GOP candidates for governor

» Big donations to GOP guv hopefuls: Who gave and how much?

» See how much cash Josh Shapiro has raised in the governor's race

» More election coverage

Support Spotlight PA's public-service election and voting coverage now.

The magic is real at Philly's Magic Gardens, via @lora_explores. Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
AFTER ROE: There are at least 18 bills directly relating to abortion already pending in the Pennsylvania House or Senate, CNHI reports. If Roe v. Wade is indeed overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, state Rep. Kathy Rapp (R., Warren), majority chair of the House Health Committee, said GOP legislators are prepared to advance "some of the strongest pro-life legislation in the history of our Commonwealth." House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) is among those supporting the push.

IN THE RUNNING: Candidates for all 203 state House and 25 of 50 state Senate seats will go before primary voters on May 17. For many incumbents, the maps produced by the latest round of redistricting mean they've needed to introduce themselves to thousands of potential new constituents, the AP reports. Some incumbents were drawn into head-to-head matchups, others decided not to run, and some veterans are facing challenges positioned as Trump- and COVID-era referendums.

POLLUTION CHECKS: Pennsylvania's conventional oil and gas industry is suing state regulators over a forthcoming rule controlling emissions of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — and other air pollution, the Post-Gazette reports. The suit wants conventional producers excluded from the rule and argues that state law requires they be regulated separately from their unconventional counterparts. The state says the rule would cut methane emissions from conventional wells in half.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland received $15,000 in campaign contributions from individuals and entities linked to a parking services contract that proved to be a massive dud for the financially strapped city, WHYY reports. According to a state-appointed receiver, the parking contract hasn't earned the city a dime of revenue. But WHYY says it has produced timely donations to Kirkland's campaigns for mayor and congress. Kirkland declined comment. 

TAX TIME: Pennsylvania TurboTax users will get a chunk of Intuit's $141 million legal settlement over "misleading" marketing practices, ABC27 reports. An estimated 158,000 Pennsylvanians who used TurboTax's Free Edition in 2016 through 2018 and were told they had to pay to file even though they were eligible to file for free will receive restitution. They can expect approximately $30 for each year they were misled and will automatically receive notices and checks, per ABC27.

'ANGEL OF ASHLAND': Decades before Roe v. Wade, Ashland doctor Robert Spencer performed tens of thousands of abortions for local, out-of-state, and international patients, The Inquirer reports. Dubbed the "Angel of Ashland" by a biographer, Spencer was renowned for his safety and discretion.

SATANIC SUIT: The Satanic Temple says it's preparing to sue a York County school district that banned an "After School Satan Club" last month. The episode inspired an op-ed from state Sen. Mike Regan (R., York), which drew a response from the co-founder of the Satanic Temple.

WAR STREETS: Pittsburgh's quirky Mexican War Streets neighborhood gets its name from two 'Burgh-based regiments that participated in 1845's Mexican American War, WESA reports as part of its "Good Question!" series.

RETURN TRIP: A class ring lost abroad by a U.S. Korean War veteran decades ago was hand-delivered to his surviving relatives by a Dutch army officer who described a complicated game of lost-and-found, via CBS3. 

ATTACK FORCE: If two deer slap fight in the woods of Huntingdon County and no one is around to see it, this is what it looks like.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

This week's theme: Spring things (today's word is an adjective)
Yesterday's answer: Precipitation

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Bonnie R., Michelle T., Don H., Pat B., Susan N.-Z., Starr B., Elaine C., Doris T., George S., Jude M., Kimberly S., Susan D., Dianne K., Elizabeth W., Joyce O., Bill S., David W., Tish M., James B., and Irene R.
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