In a race marked by trolling and drama, Fetterman defeats Oz for the Pennsylvania Senate seat

By Jenny Jarvie, The Los Angeles Times

Updated: 4 hours ago Published: 4 hours ago

After an extraordinary run marred by vitriolic social media feuds, Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman beat his Republican opponent, famed TV doctor Dr. Mehmet Oz, in the Pennsylvania Senate contest five months later. having suffered a debilitating stroke.

The contest received more buzz and publicity money than any Senate race in the country — and featured the drama of Fetterman suffering a stroke and recovering during the campaign trail. The Associated Press called the race, although official results are taking longer.

The national political stakes were high. After Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey’s decision to retire, Democrats were eager to clinch a seat in the swing state that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. Meanwhile, Republicans aimed to retain the seat as part of their plan to take control of the Senate.

As personalities, Oz and Fetterman have upped the ante, adopting an aggressive back-and-forth of viral snark and aggressive social media trolling. A longtime Trump supporter and TV personality who until recently lived in New Jersey, Oz has portrayed himself as a moderate Republican seeking to control inflation and curb crime. Fetterman, the outspoken former mayor of Braddock, has cast himself as an anti-establishment figure in tune with blue-collar voters on economic issues.

“We bet on the people of Pennsylvania – and you didn’t let us down,” Fetterman said on Twitter. “And I won’t let you down.”

In April, Fetterman beat Oz for his performance in a 35-second video that showed him pulling broccoli, asparagus, carrots and guacamole from a grocery store shelf and blaming Biden for the cost of the “crude”.

“In PA we call it a crisper,” Fetterman said in his own video, calling on fans to donate to his campaign and help send Oz packing.

Fetterman suffered a significant setback in May when, days before the state primary, he suffered a stroke.

The Democratic candidate has been forced to cancel campaign events. Still, by mid-August, Fetterman held a 12 percentage point lead over Oz in the FiveThirtyEight polling average. But by Election Day that advantage had eroded, with polls showing the race a draw with Fetterman leading by just 0.1 points.

Oz ran a barrage of crime campaign ads to narrow Fetterman’s lead. In late October, when the two candidates met for their one and only debate, Fetterman delivered an uneven performance, stumbling over his words and struggling to articulate points on abortion rights and fracking.

In the final stretch of the campaign, Fetterman spoke willingly about his health issues and his ongoing recovery. At a rally in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Fetterman acknowledged his recent speech problems, joking about taking the stage in front of former President Barack Obama.

“Here’s a pro tip,” he told the crowd. “Please, if you’re going to give a speech after recovering from a stroke, you really don’t want to have to come in front of Barack Obama.”

Obama was just one of many national political heavyweights, including President Biden and Trump, who landed in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

Obama lambasted Oz for his dubious medical claims as a TV doctor – “If anybody’s willing to peddle snake oil to make money, then they’re probably willing to sell oil snake to get elected” – and also hit back at Republicans on the economy, saying the GOP likes to talk about inflation but has no solutions.

“What is their response? ” he said. “What is their economic policy?

Stumping for Oz in the small town of Latrobe, about 35 miles east of Pittsburgh, Trump stuck to general talking points.

“If you support America’s decline and fall, then you have to vote for the radical left Democrats,” Trump told the crowd. “If you want to stop the destruction of our country and save the American dream, then this Tuesday you need to vote Republican.”

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