Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is projected to defeat Republican Mehmet Oz in the state’s marquee Senate race, delivering a crucial win for Democrats.
NBC News and Fox News called the race.
Fetterman’s victory comes after the race became a jump ball in the final weeks, with Oz having narrowed the gap in polling after a frenetic surge in the final two months. He will replace the retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
The sitting lieutenant governor, who won his first statewide office in 2018, powered his way through the Democratic primary field, winning with 58 percent support — more than double the total received by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), the second-place finisher who won 26 percent.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania comes after a dramatic end to the race that was narrowing in its final weeks. (Associated Press)
However, that was the last easy part of the campaign, as Fetterman suffered a stroke only days before the primary, which he says almost killed him and left him on the sidelines for months as he tried to recuperate. The Democratic nominee did not appear at a campaign rally until early August.
His health remained an issue and a constant talking point throughout the final months of the campaign. Fetterman’s campaign only agreed to a single debate that took place on Oct. 25 — weeks after mail-in ballots were sent out across the state. Nevertheless, Fetterman’s campaign declined to release his full medical records, having only released a letter from a cardiologist who examined him in June and another one from his primary care physician in mid-October. The latter report declared that Fetterman “has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”
Most alarming for Democrats, Fetterman struggled mightily in the Oct. 25 debate in Harrisburg against Oz. He spoke haltingly and was unable to articulate many of his points in a coherent fashion, especially in minutelong or 15- and 30-second soundbites.
Fetterman’s performance against his Republican opponent Mehmet Oz in their October debate left many Democrats worried about the state of the race. (The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
However, the attacks on Oz ended up sticking with enough voters to put Fetterman over the top.
“It’s official. I will be the next U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. We bet on the people of Pennsylvania – and you didn’t let us down and I won’t let you down. Thank you,” Fetterman wrote on Twitter.
Fetterman’s camp for months panned Oz for having not lived in the Keystone State for a long time. While hosting his show, Oz lived full time in New Jersey.
Fetterman and Democrats also attacked Oz for promoting dubious medical products and questionable views on his show.
Those messages came while Republicans launched a steady stream of anti-Fetterman ads centered on rising crime in the Keystone State. Among Fetterman’s few responsibilities as lieutenant governor was his position atop the Board of Pardons, where he voted to give clemency to a number of convicted criminals, including for second-degree murder.
Fetterman faced a number of GOP attacks related to his dealing with crime in Pennsylvania as lieutenant governor. (Greg Nash)
Fetterman also received help from the other key race in Pennsylvania as state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) toppled state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) in the gubernatorial race to replace the term-limited Gov. Tom Wolf (D).
The Senate run was Fetterman’s second after he unsuccessfully ran in the party primary in 2016, having finished third behind Katie McGinty and former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.).
— Updated at 1:01 a.m.
- Fetterman defeats Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race
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