John Fetterman defeats Dr Oz: ‘We bet on the people of Pennsylvania - and you didn’t let us down’

Race to replace retiring Republican was most-watched Senate contest of the 2022 cycle

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 09 November 2022 06:58 GMT
Emotional Fetterman lost for words after winning Pennsylvania Senate race

John Fetterman has defeated over TV personality Mehmet Oz in one of the closest watched races for the Senate in this year’s midterms. The Associated Press called the race just before 2 am et, just after Mr Fetterman claimed victory at his election night event.

After months of campaigning and particularly personal attacks lobbed back and forth between the two candidates, the battle between Mr Fetterman and Dr Oz appears to have ended as one of the most expensive races of the 2022 cycle.

The Democratic lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania tweeted: “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.”

Mr Fetterman thanked his supporters early Wednesday morning at an election party, and reminded them that the campaign’s strategy of reaching voters in red districts had made the difference.

“We launched this campaign almost two years ago. And we had our slogan, it’s on every one of those signs right now: Every county, every vote,” he said.

“And tonight, that’s why I’ll be the next US senator from Pennsylvania,” Mr Fetterman concluded, to applause.

A White House pool report indicated that Mr Fetterman had received a congratulatory text message from the president.

The race seemed to be a lock for Democrats early on but grew tighter over the summer as Republicans launched a barrage of attacks supported by tens of millions of dollars in outside spending and the full brunt of the conservative media complex, which turned its fire on Mr Fetterman and his recovery from a stroke.

His halting performance at his only debate between himself and his opponent further raised alarms on the left, but proved to be insufficient to help the celebrity TV doctor overcome accusations of being an out-of-touch celebrity peddling snake oil and fake “miracle” cures on his long-running programme.

The race represented a major opportunity for Democrats to save – or even expand – their Senate majority and potentially build the numbers necessary to alter or scrap the filibuster; that outcome looks more likely than ever with Mr Fetterman’s expected victory. Now, with an increasing likelihood that Raphael Warnock, Mark Kelly, and Catherine Cortez Masto will all hold on to their seats, it appears as if Mitch McConnell’s path to Majority Leader is disintegrating.

Fetterman thanks wife for saving his life following Pennsylvania win

Dr Oz eked out a win in the GOP primary earlier this year after Donald Trump’s endorsement allowed him to sneak past two other conservative candidates, David McCormick and Kathy Barnette. Both had appeared as potential contenders for Mr Trump’s favour, but lost out to Dr Oz despite consternations from some conservatives in the party about the celebrity TV doc’s bonafides.

It was a scenario similar to the one that played out in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary, where author JD Vance roared to victory with Mr Trump’s endorsement over a rival supported by conservatives in the party, Josh Mandel.

Mr Fetterman previously served as mayor of Braddock and captured the Democratic nomination from his closest rival, Conor Lamb, just days after suffering his stroke. Discussions about his heath and fitness for office would become a major issue in the campaign going forward even as the Democrat released two letters from his physician declaring him able to serve.

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