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Jan. 6 connection binds Pennsylvania Republicans (in a bad way)

In Pennsylvania, a Republican candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, and Senate were all in the nation's capital for Jan. 6, 2021.


Over the course of the last 16 months, many Americans have seen images of right-wing radicals who were in Washington, D.C., for Jan. 6. What much of the public may not fully appreciate, however, is that some of those images captured Republicans who are now seeking powerful government offices.

Take Kathy Barnette, for example. The NBC affiliate in Philadelphia reported:

One of the leading candidates in a tight Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania can be seen marching with a large group of people in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021 in photos that emerged this weekend. Kathy Barnette ... is marching among a crowd of former President Trump’s supporters, including at least one member of a violent, far-right group called the Proud Boys, according to two photos that have been verified by NBC News.

This coincides with an overnight CNN report on Barnette saying last year that she was bringing three buses of “pissed off patriots” for Trump’s pre-riot rally, calling it “our 1776 moment.”

The far-right Senate candidate didn’t deny the accuracy of these reports, though Barnette’s campaign said in a written statement that she didn’t enter the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and doesn’t have any connections to the Proud Boys.

In other words, the public is expected to believe that the Senate hopeful may have been among violent extremists as part of her election-denial activism, but we should take comfort in knowing that Barnette isn’t directly associated with the radicals she marched alongside.

As it turns out, she’s not alone. While Barnette may be the only leading Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania who was in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, in Pennsylvania's Republican gubernatorial race, the frontrunner, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, was there, too.

A Washington Post report noted over the weekend, “He has said he attended Trump’s speech at the Ellipse, and videos show him among a crowd moving toward the Capitol as another man removes a bike rack blocking the sidewalk. Mastriano has said he respected police lines and that he and his wife departed when it became clear the event was no longer peaceful.”

But wait, there’s more. Let’s not forget about Teddy Daniels, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania, who’s been endorsed by Mastriano and Barnette. The Post’s report added that Daniels, about 90 minutes after the Capitol was breached, “posted to Twitter a 12-second video clip of a crowd thronging what appears to be the Capitol’s east plaza. ‘I’m here. God bless our patriots,’ he wrote.”

Daniels later claimed that he didn’t enter the Capitol building.

In case this weren’t quite enough, NBC News reported yesterday that Grant Clarkson, a staffer with Mastriano’s gubernatorial campaign, was not only at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he also “appeared to smile and laugh as rioters smashed media equipment on Capitol grounds.”

Asked why he was smiling as he watched while journalists’ equipment was destroyed, Clarkson told NBC News yesterday, “I, uh, don’t recall smashing any cameras.”

The Republican staffer added, “I didn’t go inside. That’s the only thing I will tell you is that I didn’t go inside.”

What’s less clear is whether any of these revelations will help or hurt their respective campaigns. Primary Day in Pennsylvania is today. Watch this space.