A contentious election season comes to a close with the former mayor of Braddock defeating celebrity surgeon Dr. Oz.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will represent Pennsylvania in the US Senate, filling the seat left open by two-term Republican Pat Toomey, who is not seeking reelection.
Both the Associated Press and NBC News projected early Wednesday that Fetterman defeated Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, the surgeon and former TV host who drew scrutiny for his murky status as a Pennsylvania resident, his financial ties to companies whose products he endorsed, and his lack of credibility as a snake oil-peddling celebrity running for office for the first time.
“We bet on the people of Pennsylvania, and you didn’t let us down,” Fetterman said during his victory speech early Wednesday. “And I won’t let you down.”
Fetterman’s communications director Tweeted that Oz called Fetterman Wednesday morning to concede.
Pennsylvania’s US Senate race has been eventful, particularly for Fetterman himself. He suffered a stroke in May, just days before the state’s primary. After Fetterman returned to the campaign trail near the end of the summer, Oz’s campaign mocked his health. And despite his doctor stating in a letter last month that Fetterman was “recovering well from his stroke” and could “work full duty in public office,” the issue of Fetterman’s recovery continued to play a significant role in the race.
But despite the attacks, Fetterman prevailed and will assume office in January, joining fellow Democrat Bob Casey, Jr., to represent Pennsylvania in the US Senate.
Fetterman’s platform focused on the principles that have become synonymous with today’s Democratic Party: being pro-reproductive freedom, supporting the rights of LGBTQ people, and raising the minimum wage. What set Fetterman apart from the rest of his party, however, was the way he presented himself and his willingness to blame corporate greed for much of the country’s current ills.
At 6’8”, the hulking, tattooed, ex-mayor of Braddock typically dresses in a hoodie and jeans (shorts, if the weather allows). He’s openly said that “our economy is a mess because of Washington, [and] the rich, powerful, the insiders, and the lobbyists.”
“We must make more stuff in America, cut taxes for working families, [and] Congress shouldn’t play in the stock market,” he said during his campaign.
It’s a message that clearly resonated with the majority of Pennsylvania voters.
And Fetterman’s election has the potential to shift both the party’s and Washington’s status quo; depending on the results of elections in other competitive states, this could mean that big change is coming to the nation’s capital.
One change in particular that many Democratic voters are hoping for is the codification of Roe v. Wade into law. In June, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark abortion legislation and handed states the absolute power to obliterate or protect reproductive freedoms. This news was big for voters on every part of the political spectrum, but the decision also raised questions about why the standard wasn’t codified, or enshrined into federal law, in the first place.
Fetterman said, almost immediately after the ruling came down, that this decision was “unjust,” and “wrong” and that he would “fight it with everything” he’s got, if elected.
“Send me to the US Senate, and I’d proudly vote to codify Roe v. Wade into law,” he said.
Now, he may get that chance.