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PA GOP Senate Primary Too Close to Call; Rep Madison Cawthorn Loses NC Primary; Doug Mastriano Wins GOP Nomination In PA Governor's Race; Buffalo Killer Shared Murder Plot With Social Media Viewers. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are tracking $6 a gallon gas is now the average in one state. And it may be soon coming to you.

Thank you for joining us, everyone. It's still a nail biter in Pennsylvania right now. The Republican Senate primary there is too close to call. A razor thin margin at the moment separating Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick. Thousands of votes need to be counted.

And state law might force an automatic recount. In the Democratic Senate, it was a wild day but for a different reason. Lieutenant governor John Fetterman easily secured the nomination but from the hospital room, still recovering from suffering a stroke just days ago.

And in the governor's race there, a controversial state senator, Doug Mastriano, he's also a leading voice pushing Trump's election lies, a man who attended the rally that led to the Capitol insurrection and also now the man who won the Republican nomination for the governor's race there.

He will now face Pennsylvania's attorney general Josh Shapiro in the general election. A lot going on in Pennsylvania. So let's go there. CNN's Athena Jones is starting us off live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with more on this deadlocked Senate race.

What's the latest that you're picking up?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You mentioned, we're talking about the two leading candidates trading the lead back and forth. In the wee hours of last night. A lot to be determined. Could be very close causing a recount. There's a problem though because a lot of votes still need to come in counties across the state.

This is one of those counties, Lancaster County, where we learned early yesterday that about 22,000 mail-in ballots were misprinted with the wrong code. So they could not be scanned by the machines.

Here you see a room full of county staffers, election volunteers, election officials, who are remarking these ballots in teams of three, including observers, so that they can be rescanned and counted. As of two hours ago, they had about 15,000 ballots left to go through

this process. I just got an update. They've gone through 10 percent of that, 1,500 ballots in the last couple of hours.

And I should mention that there are also party observers here from each party. Campaigns can have their own representatives. We've been getting constant updates as to how long they think it will take before they know the result in the county.

I spoke with the head of the board of elections, who said that it may not be until Friday. They may be able to finish as soon as tomorrow. Today, they expect to go until 6:00 or 7:00 PM. They may stay a little later until they're very close to being finished.

And of course, they're scanning off in batches in these machines behind me. Sean (ph) will show you the machines behind me. They scan in batches so they don't have to wait until the end of the day to scan them.

But three times as many people are here in this room during this process as there were yesterday. So that's why some hope we could get an answer sooner than Friday. We'll be giving you updates as much as we can through the day.

And as for who wins this race, whether it's Dr. Mehmet Oz or Dave McCormick, they'll face lieutenant governor Fetterman in this race, hospitalized for a stroke and had a pacemaker put in. We heard from his wife, Gisele Fetterman, this morning.


GISELE FETTERMAN, PENNSYLVANIA SECOND LADY: I actually spoke with President Biden last night and passed the message. I told him, I'm sorry, President, but he's sleeping right now. We had a great call last night. Heard from many other leaders in D.C. and everyone is excited to move on to Washington November.


JONES: That is from Gisele Fetterman and we'll be watching the process all day, the chair of the board, said most important things are integrity, veracity and transparency. That's why we're here, able to observe and it's pretty exciting watching this happen. Kate.

BOLDUAN: You can hear how busy it is, the buzz around you, Athena. Great to have you there in the room.

Let's move now to North Carolina, where Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn was defeated last night, voters denying him a second term, the youngest member of Congress. He has Trump's backing but he also appears to have had just too many scandals following him to the ballot box. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live in Henderson, North Carolina, for us this hour. Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, and perhaps the biggest if you want to call it, scandal that Madison Cawthorn had didn't make news outside of this district. It was when redistricting maps were drawn in the state legislature.

They switched things up, Madison Cawthorn left this district for one closer to Charlotte and then when the court threw those out, he came back to the 11th. That's the moment when Chuck Edwards, the state senator for the area, got into the race, because it was an open seat.


GALLAGHER: And after that, things just started unraveling for the freshman congressman, with the scandals, the run-ins with law enforcement, the two pending misdemeanor charges and really making enemies within his own party, especially here in the state.

The most powerful Republican gathering behind Chuck Edwards, including U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, a super PAC connected to him dropped six figures on this race with attack ads highlighting all of Cawthorn's deficiencies.

People in this district felt he was he was absent, chasing the limelight. Last night, Cawthorn did call and concede the race to Chuck Edwards. Chuck spoke about that at his victory party.


CHUCK EDWARDS (R-NC), HOUSE PRIMARY WINNER: Just as I expected, he was -- he presented himself in a very classy and humble way and offered his support to our campaign in absolutely any way that we could use him. And I'm extremely, extremely pleased that we're able to end this contest on that note.



GALLAGHER: But he didn't exactly talk about the race, Trump himself. He did do a last minute get out the vote push on his social platform. Other Trump endorsed candidates like Bo Heinz (ph) in the 13th district and U.S. Senate Republican candidate now Ted Budd won their races but apparently too much for Madison Cawthorn to overcome here in the 11th, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much for that.

Joining me right now, CNN senior political correspondent, the host of "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY," Abby Phillip and CNN political commentator, former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent.

Let's start in Pennsylvania first.

What does a statewide recount do in a place where some elected Republicans pushed so hard for so long with election fraud accusations in the last election?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think it raises the possibility that one of the candidates could decide to make an issue out of the recount. But I will say that, if you listen to the two leading candidates,

McCormick and Oz, last night in their remarks to their supporters, both of them, dare I say, did the right thing. They said we are waiting for votes to be counted.

We won't know the results tonight and we're going to wait and see how that goes. And for the time being, I think they should be taken at their word. They both have an interest in making sure that their supporters understand that the votes that will come in need to be counted.

And I think it would be a mistake to cast doubt on that at an early stage. The McCormick camp is probably more confident that the mail-in vote is going to favor him. But I think both campaigns right now are not going down that road. We'll see if their supporters follow their lead.

BOLDUAN: Charlie, you know these areas better than anyone. It's too close to call. You say that's not a surprise.


CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We knew this was going to be a tight race. These two guys spent the last few months just beating the daylights out of each other.

But Oz's negatives were higher than McCormick's. The negatives stuck more on Oz than McCormick, interestingly enough. But we also anticipated a third lane opening up. What we didn't anticipate is that Kathy Barnette would be the one to fill that lane.

BOLDUAN: Do you think, did it kind of narrow then in the, like, last minutes of the race?

DENT: Yes, over the last five days. I've never seen such a pummeling of a candidate as I saw Kathy Barnette. So camped down her late surge, a little bit. You could feel that. Pennsylvania Republicans' concerns were a double nightmare scenario, Doug Mastriano becoming the gubernatorial nominee and Barnette as a Senate nominee, basically throwing away two really important races.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about Doug Mastriano. He won the Republican nomination of the governor's race. You wrote to my producer, this is the nightmare scenario.

Why, Charlie?

DENT: Because I think there are very few Republicans in Pennsylvania, at least in leadership decisions, who believe that Mastriano could win a general election. And I don't see how it can happen.

What's even more interesting, too, is I don't think Doug Mastriano could win a race with Josh Shapiro with the state Senate Republican caucus. He is just not that popular. Very extreme.

BOLDUAN: Wait, really? DENT: Yes, the disdain for him is quite high among his colleagues. And the bigger problem for Mastriano, though, is his reckless, incendiary behavior, comments about the last election being stolen. And he's carried on in ways that are kind of frightening.

And I think with suburban voters in particular, he's going to drive away a lot of swing voting Republicans and independents in the eastern part of the state especially, Philadelphia (INAUDIBLE) Counties and Lehigh Valley and elsewhere. So I don't know how he puts together a winning coalition.

BOLDUAN: So interesting.

Abby, counter to maybe, possibly potentially, what Charlie is laying out.


BOLDUAN: Is Mastriano really a liability?

Because you remember, Donald Trump was also seen as unelectable in many places all the way up until he was elected. I mean, Democrats seem to want this match-up between Mastriano and Josh Shapiro.

Could this be a case of be careful what you wish for?

PHILLIP: Look, I think you're right on all of those fronts. Look, Democrats really do think this is their best-case scenario. I talk to a White House official yesterday, who described Mastriano as the founder of the ultra MAGA.

And remember, President Biden has been launching this campaign to label Republicans as ultra MAGA because what the Democrats' data is saying is that that is a negative for voters, for the gettable voters in a swing state like Pennsylvania.

But one thing that is potentially working in Mastriano's favor is look at what happened in the Republican governor primary versus what happened in the Republican Senate primary.

Mastriano, actually without the help of Trump, before Trump even endorsed, was basically able to lock up the Republican base, lock up the MAGA base, and consolidate those voters in a way that, on the Senate side, you did not see Oz doing, even with Trump's endorsement. You did not see Barnette doing. You did not see McCormick doing.

And so he has a little bit of a leg up in that he already, on his own, I think, sends a message to the MAGA wing of the Republican Party that I am one of you.

And whether that is enough to actually win a state like Pennsylvania, that is actually a very purple state, I think that's why Democrats are confident, is because Pennsylvania historically has not been a deep red state.

And he has to make a pivot to some extent if he's going to be competitive in a general election.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about North Carolina, as Dianne Gallagher was kind of laying out what happened there with Madison Cawthorn.

Of all the surprising things, one might be just the fact that Cawthorn actually conceded. And it seemed relatively quickly. It's less surprising maybe that he lost but the fact that he accepted it, it is, I mean, is it too much, if I say this as a statement, about the viability of election fraud claims post-2020?

PHILLIP: Well, you know, there's so much going on in that Cawthorn race.


PHILLIP: It was surprising to a lot of people that he conceded as early as he did. And I don't really know that it was a determination based on whether he thought that he could make a claim that the whole thing was rigged.

I mean, at the end of the day, there has to be -- I mean, I think there has to be some basis to do, to make that claim, although there are plenty of these people making these thing up from whole cloth.

Madison Cawthorn has been through the wringer, beat up in an almost unprecedented way by the Republican establishment. I think by last night it was clear this thing was over. His own constituents basically said, we don't want you anymore.

And it's -- I don't know that there were any grounds for him to cry fraud even in a scenario like that.

BOLDUAN: Right. We haven't had a political conversation with so much going on between the lines of what you're talking about in quite some time. Artful as always. Great to see you, Abby.

Great to see you, Charlie.

Much more to come.

So Charlie, stay close. It's all about Pennsylvania right now.

Pennsylvania secretary of state will actually be joining us live in just minutes to talk about the potential of this recounting process, where this is going from here, how quickly this will or won't wrap up.

Also ahead for us, the disturbing new details of what the alleged gunman did minutes before carrying out that racist attack in New York. The incoming lieutenant governor joining us next.





BOLDUAN: There are disturbing new details coming out today from the investigation into the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. The man suspected of shooting and killing 10 people and wounding three others created an online chat room on the Discord app.

And then he invited people to read about the attack that he planned just 30 minutes before carrying it out. CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Buffalo for us this hour with more.

Omar, can you tell us more about these new details?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. We knew he was using Discord as a planning diary for this attack leading up to this shooting. And it showed that he had been here to the Tops supermarket back on March 8th, essentially doing recon.

But wasn't necessarily known was who was actually seeing these messages. And we heard from Discord or a spokesperson for Discord who said it was 30 minutes before this attack began on Saturday that a small group of people were not only invited but joined what was previously a private server.

Now as for the messages that were posted on that server, it showed that it was back on March 8th that this shooter made that initial roughly 200-mile journey from where he lived to here in Buffalo.

It detailed that he went to this supermarket, not just once but three times, at 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm on that particular day, making notes of what he was seeing, particularly, the amount of Black people versus white people in that store.

Making note that he wanted to come to this particular zip code because of the higher proportion of Black people here. And he also mapped out the grocery store down to the aisles and the exits. And it also touched on what his plans were as far as timing goes.

He initially wanted to do it a week later, kept delaying. He's pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder but is expected to be in court tomorrow, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Omar, thank you very much. So many new details coming out every day and more horrific, one after another.

Joining me for more, incoming lieutenant governor of New York, Lieutenant governor designate, still member of Congress, Antonio Delgado.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate it. This is clearly a focus now of the investigation, this new detail that the suspect invited a group of people to join his chat to see his attack plans just about 30 minutes prior to the attack.

If people had knowledge of his plan ahead of time, what do you think should happen to them?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR DESIGNATE ANTONIO DELGADO (D-NY): If people had knowledge of his plan, they should be held to account. It's an ongoing investigation that I think should be robustly looked into, no question about it.

We're talking about somebody here who meticulously and cunningly, with great evil and hate in their hearts, decided to take the lives of innocents in a way that is beyond description. It pains the heart.

I was with the president yesterday in Buffalo, and with Governor Hochul. I met with a number of elected officials and clergy as well as members of the family members who are grieving, grieving real loss.

The type of loss you really can't process and, yet, here we are, trying our very best to do just that. And it's incumbent upon us not only he's held to account but anybody who had a hand in this or knowledge of it and had been in a position to do something about it.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned you were there when the president met with the families in Buffalo. And when he spoke afterward, it was an emotional speech when he made his public remarks. I want to play what the president had to say about white supremacists.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we've see the mass shootings in Charlottesville, South Carolina; El Paso, Texas; Pittsburgh; last year in Atlanta; this week in Dallas, Texas; and now in Buffalo, in Buffalo, New York.

White supremacy is a poison. It's a poison --


BIDEN: -- running through our -- it really is -- running through our body politic. And it's been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.


BOLDUAN: Very strong words from the president. This is the reason, he says, that he ran for president.

But this hate still exists, these hate crimes, I mean, they're still happening.

Do you think the president has failed in his effort so far to take this on, in seeing what happened in Buffalo?

DELGADO: I think what we as a country have struggled to do, as a country for a very long time, is to really confront that poison that he articulated. We have to really grapple with the fact that this poison has been with us since the country's inception.

When you're talking about the legitimacy rendered in the Constitution, the three-fifths compromise, when you talk about the black hoax (ph) that followed the Emancipation Proclamation and the Jim Crow segregation laws and the red line that occurred in the 1930s to 1960s which created, in effect, the so-called ghettos;

when you're talking about the war on crime and the war on drugs, mass incarceration in the '90s, this poison has been with us for a very long time across different administrations and across generations.

And while we have certainly done a lot of work as a country to address some of these realities, some of these challenges, we still have a lot more work to do -- a lot.

BOLDUAN: That's for sure. Lieutenant Governor Designate, thank you for coming on. I really appreciate your time.

DELGADO: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary is still too close to call. It could be headed to a recount.

How likely is that at this point?

Up next, I'm going to talk to Pennsylvania's secretary of state, who has got a lot on her shoulders now. We'll be right back.





BOLDUAN: The Republican Senate race in Pennsylvania is a nail biter and likely headed to automatic recount as of this moment. A razor thin margin, you can see it right there, separating TV doctor Mehmet Oz as well as David McCormick.

CNN has learned that 22,000 mail-in ballots in Lancaster County are being recounted by hand. The issue there, there was a misprint. They couldn't be properly scanned into the machines.

But let's get the latest from the person who knows. Leigh Chapman, acting secretary of state for Pennsylvania.

Secretary of state, thank you very much for being here.

How many ballots at this moment are left to be counted?

LEIGH CHAPMAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE, PENNSYLVANIA: You know, there's still quite a few ballots that are left to be counted in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We will have an official return completed in the next few days.

And every county will be reporting their unofficial returns by next Tuesday. So we will have a sense very soon as far as how many mail-in ballots are yet to be counted.

BOLDUAN: Do you have a sense of how many counties have counting left to do?