A woman wears a t-shirt falsely claiming that former U.S. President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, after a presentation to the Surry County board of commissioners by several individuals that aimed to cast doubt on election integrity, urging the commi
A woman wears a t-shirt falsely claiming that former U.S. President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, after a presentation to the Surry County board of commissioners by several individuals that aimed to cast doubt on election integrity, urging the commission to replace existing voting machines with purely paper ballots, in Dobson, North Carolina, U. Reuters / JONATHAN DRAKE

Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano, who has amplified former U.S. President Donald Trump's false claims of 2020 voter fraud, won the state's Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, setting up a high-profile clash against Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro in November's midterm elections.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania's critical U.S. Senate race, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman won the Democratic nomination despite having been hospitalized since Friday after suffering a stroke.

Fetterman, a progressive Democrat whose victory over centrist U.S. congressman Conor Lamb came just hours after he had a pacemaker implanted to address the irregular heart rhythms that caused the stroke, has said doctors expect a full recovery.

The Republican senatorial primary in Pennsylvania remained too close to call, with TV wellness celebrity Mehmet Oz - endorsed by Trump - vying for the party's nomination against former hedge fund executive David McCormick and conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette.

"If you'll allow me to be brutally honest for a second, 2022 is going to be hard year for Democrats," the tattooed, goateed Fetterman, who prefers shorts and hoodies to suits, said in an fundraising email to supporters. "A typical Democrat running a typical campaign isn't going to win."

In North Carolina, U.S. Representative Ted Budd, also backed by Trump, won the Republican Senate nomination on Tuesday, while Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn appeared in danger of losing his seat after a series of scandals.

The Pennsylvania and North Carolina Senate races are two of the most important contests in the Nov. 8 elections, as President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats fight to retain their slim majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate. Both seats are currently held by retiring Republican senators.

Budd, who beat former Governor Pat McCrory, will face Democratic former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who easily won her party's nomination in the race to succeed Senator Richard Burr.

Meanwhile, Cawthorn, a staunch Trump ally, was struggling to fend off a challenge in a House primary from state Senator Chuck Edwards. With nearly 95% of the expected vote tallied, Edwards had 33.5% to Cawthorn's 31.7%, according to Edison Research.

Cawthorn, at 26 the House's youngest member, has angered his party's leaders with a string of embarrassing episodes, including claiming that conservative leaders invited him to a cocaine-fueled orgy, attempting twice to bring a gun onto a plane and having a video surface that showed him nude and gyrating against someone.


Republicans are well positioned to regain control of the House, which could enable them to frustrate Biden's legislative agenda. Biden's public approval rating is at 42%, with 50% of Americans disapproving of his performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday.

Democrats have a better chance of keeping control of the Senate, currently split 50-50 between the parties with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.

In Pennsylvania, Trump endorsed Mastriano, whose rise, along with that of Barnette, has worried some establishment Republicans that the duo could prove too extreme for voters in the general election.

Mastriano, who was present outside the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters attacked it on Jan. 6, 2021, played a significant role in the Trump campaign's failed effort to overturn Pennsylvania's 2020 presidential results based on false claims of voter fraud. Mastriano also has said he would pursue a statewide abortion ban after a leaked draft opinion showed the Supreme Court is poised to overturn its landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Shapiro, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, has vowed to protect abortion rights. He said on Tuesday that he was isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19.

Barnette, seeking to become Pennsylvania's first Black U.S. senator, has called her rivals insufficiently conservative. She was photographed marching toward the Capitol on the day of the riot alongside members of the extremist Proud Boys group shortly before a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building in a failed bid to overturn his 2020 election loss.

Barnette's campaign told NBC she did not take part in or condone the destruction of property and has no connection to the Proud Boys.

The final outcome of the Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate primary may not be known tonight. Officials said voters requested 908,000 absentee or mail-in ballots. State law prevents these from being processed until Election Day.

With 40% of the expected vote tallied, McCormick was leading with 32% of the vote, Oz 32% and Barnette 23%, according to Edison Research.

Trump has endorsed more than 150 candidates as he tries to solidify his status as his party's kingmaker, though his picks have not always prevailed. His support helped author J.D. Vance win the Ohio Senate primary, but his favored candidate lost in Nebraska's gubernatorial race last week.

Primary elections were also taking place on Tuesday in Kentucky, Oregon and Idaho, where incumbent Republican Governor Brad Little faced Trump-backed primary challenger Janice McGeachin, the state's lieutenant governor.