Fetterman’s absence raises stakes for Democrats in key Pennsylvania Senate race - ednews.net

8 August, Monday

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Fetterman’s absence raises stakes for Democrats in key Pennsylvania Senate race

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Democrat John Fetterman posted a massive $11-million fundraising haul during the second quarter. He’s on an advertising spree that’s made him a near-constant presence on television in Pennsylvania. And he grabs attention with snarky, irreverent social media posts.
The only thing missing from one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races this year is the candidate himself.
Fetterman, 52, has yet to return to the campaign trail in a significant way since a May 13 stroke required surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator and prompted a revelation that he had a serious heart condition.
The advertisements currently on the air were recorded before the stroke. Fetterman, who is Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, hasn’t fielded questions from news media. And when the hoodie- and shorts-wearing Fetterman did make a campaign appearance, it was under tightly controlled circumstances and without advance notice to reporters.
Democratic hopes to maintain — or even expand — their fragile Senate majority hinge on the party’s ability to capture the seat being vacated by the retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. And with barely two months until voters can begin casting mail-in ballots, Fetterman is absent from traditional retail campaigning.
But in an otherwise anxiety-provoking election year for Democrats, party officials in Pennsylvania say that they’re no longer worried about Fetterman’s campaign and that they are being told repeatedly that he’ll be fine.
“The campaign told me they figured mid-July he’d start getting out,” said Joe Foster, who recently retired as party chair in heavily populated Montgomery County.
Fetterman’s campaign has provided little detail about his health since early June, though it acknowledges that he has not completely recovered from the stroke and sometimes struggles to speak smoothly. But they don’t intend to wait for a full recovery and say Fetterman will be on the campaign trail soon.
Next up may be a July 21 fundraiser scheduled with Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania in suburban Philadelphia. Fetterman had been expected to speak there, but his campaign hasn’t said whether those remarks will be delivered virtually or in person.
Meanwhile, Democrats are taking some comfort from what they perceive as a relatively quiet campaign by Fetterman’s Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Since narrowly winning the GOP nomination, the celebrity heart surgeon has campaigned, by his campaign’s own account, at 40-some largely low-key affairs, such as drop-ins at businesses, diners and fairs.
He also took time out to attend businessman Michael Rubin’s party in Long Island’s ritzy Hamptons on July 4 and delivered keynote remarks at May’s annual meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., for the Direct Selling Assn. — a trade group for “multilevel marketing” companies such as Amway.
Then there was the campaign video he recorded — at his sprawling home in Cliffside Park, N.J., just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, where he practiced medicine, filmed his daytime TV talk show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” and lived for more than two decades before seeking Pennsylvania’s Senate seat.
That played neatly into the hands of the Fetterman campaign, which had already been attacking Oz as a fabulously wealthy carpetbagging New Jerseyan who is out of touch with regular Pennsylvanians.


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