November 28, 2022

HARRISBURG, Pa. AP divided chamber to advance President Joe Biden’s agenda for another two years.

Fetterman, the towering and humble lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania turned progressive hero as mayor of an oppressed steel city, defeated Dr. Mehmet Oz, the smooth-talking and wealthy heart surgeon-turned-television star who had just moved to the President’s battleground state to run for Senate.

Fetterman credited his “every district, every vote” campaign strategy, in which the tattooed and hoodie-wearing candidate sought to bring the Democratic Party back to the mostly white, working-class neighborhoods they increasingly oppose, despite running on a progressive platform.

“And that’s exactly what happened,” Fetterman, 53, told a cheering crowd at a Pittsburgh concert venue early Wednesday. “We trapped them. We held the line. I never expected that we would turn those red districts blue, but we did what we had to do and we had that conversation in each of those districts.”

Fetterman spent much of the campaign fending off attacks from Oz questioning whether he was honest about the effects of the stroke and was fit for duty.

He promised that the “51. To be the Democrats’ “vote” to pass basic legislation to protect abortion rights, health care, same-sex marriage, unions and voting rights, and to raise the minimum wage.

Fetterman has compared his May 13 stroke — which left him unable to speak fluently and quickly turn spoken conversation into meaning, a common effect called auditory processing disorder — to being struck down , and accepted this as a campaign mission.

He ran for “everyone who’s ever been knocked down and got back up,” he told the crowd. “This race is for the future of every community across Pennsylvania, for every small town or person who has felt left behind, for every job that has been lost, for every factory that has ever closed, and for every person who is tough.” has worked but never progresses.”

Fetterman spoke smoothly early Wednesday but required subtitles during media interviews and two weeks ago during the lonely debate between the men. He put in a choppy performance, struggling to complete sentences, mixing up words and raising concern among his group that it had doomed the race.

To underscore the importance of the race, Biden campaigned for Fetterman three times in Pennsylvania in the past three weeks, while former President Donald Trump also walked in to hold a rally for Oz, his supported candidate.

In a brief speech to his party crowd on election night at a fitness center in suburban Philadelphia, Oz thanked supporters and exuded optimism.

“When all the ballots are counted, we think we’re going to win this race,” Oz told the cheering crowd late Tuesday. He hadn’t cashed in early Wednesday.

Oz carried heavy baggage, including the fact that he’d just moved out of his New Jersey mansion and had barely won a bloody primary in which opponents portrayed him as a jaded Hollywood liberal.

All the while, Oz — a political novice with no roots in Pennsylvania politics — has struggled to connect with some Republican voters, including those who thought he was too close to Trump, too liberal, or too inauthentic.

Fetterman won despite national political headwinds for the Democrats, such as rising inflation. He succeeds second-term Republican Senator Pat Toomey.

Fetterman sought to capitalize on outrage over the Supreme Court’s abortion decision and vowed to vote to abolish the filibuster.

Polls had shown a close race, with the economy and abortion rights weighing heavily on voters.

According to AP VoteCast, a comprehensive poll of more than 3,100 voters in the state, about half of the state’s voters say the economy and jobs are the country’s top issues. Among this group of voters, Oz had a lead over Fetterman.

The Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Repeal Wade also played a role in most voters’ decisions, with about 8 in 10 citing it as a factor. About a quarter named it the most important factor, with more of those voters voting for Fetterman.

About half said they were confident Fetterman was healthy enough to serve effectively and the other half said they had reservations, according to the poll.

According to the poll, more voters said they weren’t confident Oz was familiar enough with Pennsylvania to serve effectively as a senator than those who expressed confidence.

Fetterman characterized a vote for Oz as a vote to ban abortion – ridiculing Oz’s comment during the debate that he wanted “women, doctors, local political leaders” to decide the fate of abortion – and presented Oz as a soulless TV salesman touting useless health supplements for money and would say or do anything to get elected.

Fetterman was forced to explain progressive attitudes to a swing-state electorate, including a flip-flop on natural gas drilling and pardons for state inmates convicted of murder.

Ultimately, Fetterman’s everyone’s appeal trumped Oz’s fame as host of The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. In the final days of the race, Oprah Winfrey – who launched Oz’s TV career – supported Fetterman.

Fetterman is disrespectful, casually ranting on social media and looking more like an aging professional wrestler. At 6ft 8, he’s tattooed, goateed and sinister, with a clean-shaven head and casual attire that often includes shorts — even in winter.

Democrats saw him as someone who could normalize the party with disaffected voters in the Trump age.

He revolutionized the use of social media in campaigns, raising a barrage of small-dollar donations and tirelessly toying with Oz’s gaffes, wealth and status as a fresh transplant.

Oz was torn between a primary, in which he tried to stave off attacks that he was secretly liberal, and a general election campaign against Fetterman, in which he tried to appeal to moderate and black voters.

Despite Trump’s approval, he won the primaries by nearly 900 votes in a contest that led to a nationwide recount. Trump was a longtime friend and fellow entertainer whom Oz had met through New York City’s social and charity circles.

The election was the most expensive election for a US Senate seat this campaign cycle at over $300 million. Money poured in from national groups, and Oz spent more than $25 million of his own fortune on the race.

Much of Republican TV ad money has been focused on crime, suggesting that Democrats have failed to protect people from violence and drugs and aimed to undermine one of Fetterman’s ways of reaching black voters: his efforts as Lieutenant Governor to free the over-incarcerated rehabilitated or innocent.

Fetterman, the 13-year former mayor of tiny, impoverished Braddock near Pittsburgh, used his time there to establish himself with the black community in the black-majority city, fighting gun violence and opening a crime-ridden hospital entertain a troubled community.

He is tattooed with Braddock’s zip code – 15104 – on one forearm and, while he was mayor, the date of every murder in the town as he worked to prevent crime.


Associated Press reporter Matt Rourke of Newtown, Pennsylvania contributed to this report. Follow Marc Levy on Twitter: twitter.com/timelywriter.


Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow AP’s election coverage of the 2022 election at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

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