Following his recovery from a stroke in May, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor John Fetterman will resume in-person campaigning the following week. Next Friday, the Democratic senatorial candidate will host a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania.
His presence at the rally will be his first at a significant public campaign event since having a stroke soon before the state’s primary. Since then, save from a string of live fundraisers he attended last month, Fetterman has primarily been communicating with voters via social media and advertising as he recovers.
A crucial indicator for the Keystone State is Erie County. In 2016, President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by by a single point. By just 1 point in 2020, Joe Biden, who was then running for president, changed it back to blue. With 23,200 votes, or nearly 80% of the Democratic primary vote, Fetterman won Erie County in May. His rival Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was in Erie on Wednesday, finished second in the county’s Republican primary with 7,500 votes.
“Before the 2020 election, I said that if I could know one single fact about the results, I could tell you who was going to win Pennsylvania. Whoever wins Erie County will win Pennsylvania,” said Fetterman. “I’ve visited Erie dozens and dozens of times in the past, and I am honored and proud to be returning to the campaign trail here.”
Hours after the event was announced, Fetterman’s team also declared that the campaign had received more than 1 million individual donations since it began last year.
In the dispute over which party will control the Senate following the November elections, Pennsylvania’s Senate race is a key battlefield. With Republican Senator Pat Toomey’s impending retirement, Democrats see it as a potential gain.
Even though he hasn’t been actively campaigning for a while, Fetterman has been ahead of Oz in recent surveys. In a Fox News poll taken in late July, he had an 11-point advantage over Oz. He led by 9 points in a June USA Today/Suffolk poll.
Since the primary, Fetterman’s campaign has invested close to $4.5 million in statewide advertising, including more than $1 million for digital commercials. Comparatively, the combined spending of Oz and the National Republican Senatorial Committee was little over $3.5 million, the most of which was made through the NRSC. Oz has only invested $17,000 in online advertising.
A well-known TV personality named Oz has also been targeted by Fetterman with a number of viral videos that portray him as being out of touch with Pennsylvanian voters and call him a carpetbagger.
One video included a combination of clips of Oz referencing his New Jersey origins. In addition, Fetterman’s campaign has mocked him with footage of well-known New Jersey residents, including Stevie Van Zandt and Snooki from the “Jersey Shore” reality TV series.
Oz may be shown playing basketball on a private court, ziplining, and kissing his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a more current film released by Fetterman’s campaign.
“It’s very hard to discern significant differences in happiness in someone who’s making $50,000 and $50 million,” Oz can be heard saying in the clip posted on Twitter.
The unveiling of a new website by Oz’s team revealed that Fetterman hasn’t attended an in-person campaign event since May 12, just minutes before Fetterman’s campaign announced the in-person rally.
“Clearly, Fetterman is afraid to answer publicly for a life well-lived on his parents’ dime and his radical stances on banning fracking, decriminalizing all drugs, allowing sanctuary cities, and releasing criminals onto our streets,” said Brittany Yanick, Oz’s Communications Director. “Meanwhile, Dr. Mehmet Oz is showing up for Pennsylvanians and will continue to outwork John Fetterman who refuses to answer for his dangerous views. Pennsylvanians deserve answers.”