Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette has called for banning Islam in America and said LGBTQ people 'lead with their sexual preference'

Pennsylvania US Senate candidate Kathy Barnette at a campaign event in Newton, PA on May 11, 2022.
Pennsylvania US Senate candidate Kathy Barnette at a campaign event in Newton, PA on May 11, 2022.Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
  • Conservative commentator Kathy Barnette is surging in Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary.

  • But Barnette, who could snag the party's nomination, has a history of Islamophobic and homophobic remarks.

  • Until now, the primary had been a head-to-head between Trump-endorsed Dr. Oz and David McCormick.

Kathy Barnette, a largely-unknown Pennsylvania Senate candidate, has been surging in support among Republican voters in recent polls with just days to go until next Tuesday's primary election.

But a review of the conservative commentator's public statements, including on social media, reveals a candidate with a history of Islamophobic and homophobic positions that may imperil Republicans' general election chances in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Over the last several years, Barnette has called for the banning of Islam in America, falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama is Muslim, voiced support for a business owner who posted a "No Gays Allowed" sign in his front window, and declared that "homosexuals LEAD with their sexual preference" and should "leave [the] immorality in the bedroom."

Many of her tweets appear to link to Facebook posts that have since been deleted. Barnette's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider asking whether she still holds these views.

Highlighting the angst Barnette has caused among the GOP, former President Donald Trump criticized Barnette's candidacy in a Thursday afternoon statement.

"Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats," Trump said. "She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted, but if she is able to do so, she will have a wonderful future in the Republican Party—and I will be behind her all the way."

The first-time candidate's polling surge came in the days since the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade is likely to be overturned by the high court in the coming weeks; Barnette released an emotionally-gripping ad highlighting the fact that she was born as a result of rape in order to bolster her anti-abortion message.

Until recently, the primary had been a hotly-contested head-to-head battle between former hedge fund manager David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who's garnered the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

But as Insider's Jake Lahut recently reported from a Trump rally near Pittsburgh, there are signs that Republican voters in Pennsylvania have grown weary of the barrage of primary ads on the local airwaves and are not taking Trump's cues when it comes to supporting Oz.

Oz was even met with boos upon his introduction at the rally. But Barnette could bring an even greater world of headaches to the GOP.

Richard Grenell, a former Trump White House official who's backing Oz in the race, has also sought to highlight her past statements — including those in support of racial justice — as he argues that she will cost Republicans the election should she become the nominee.

Grenell shared a video from an anonymous YouTube account called "MAGA Moms" compiling various statements by Barnette calling attention to "white racism" and speaking about the need to "dismantle privilege and classism in America today."

In addition to past social media comments, Barnette has faced questions about her residency in Pennsylvania; she lived in Virginia as recently as 2018, according to her own book. She has also refused to turn over documents that would provide more information about her military service, even as her campaign website says she "served her country proudly for 10 years in the Armed Forces Reserves."

Barnette has been endorsed by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, the Club for Growth, and the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

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