Democrat John Fetterman will defeat Republican Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate race, CNN projects, flipping the seat and boosting Democratic hopes of keeping their majority.
Endorsed by Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor since 2019, and former President Donald Trump, Oz ran one of the most controversial and expensive Senate races in the country — all while Fetterman was recovering from a pre-primary stroke. Often limited the ability to speak on his path.
Fetterman’s victory could prove decisive for Democrats, who along with Vice President Kamala Harris, are trying to preserve their control of what is a 50-50 split Senate.
Oz called Fetterman to take over the race at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Fetterman spokesman Joe Calvello.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s retirement in a state won by President Joe Biden two years ago created the best chance for Democrats to pick up a seat and preserve their narrow majority, and the commonwealth entered Election Day holding what was expected to be at least one of nine states. Be a competitive Senate race.
Fetterman’s victory marks a remarkable ascent from his time as mayor of Braddock, a western Pennsylvania suburb, to the office of lieutenant governor — after unseating a fellow Democrat in the 2018 primary — to the U.S. Senate. A longtime progressive, he is an outspoken supporter of repealing the filibuster, raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, and legislation to protect same-sex marriage, among other top liberal priorities.
His success will also inspire stroke survivors and other disabled Americans, some of whom were impressed by his efforts to continue campaigning even as his May displayed the lasting effects of his stroke. Fetterman, though his full medical records have not been released, has said he expects to be at or near full strength when he takes office early next year.
While Oz himself has been largely evasive about Fetterman’s stroke-related difficulties, his campaign has been less circumspect, leading the Republican to repeatedly distance himself from his own staff’s statements. Asked at one point late in the campaign if he would talk to his own patients the way his campaign addressed Fetterman, Oz responded with one word: “No.”
The White House didn’t weigh in on individual races throughout election night. But after Fetterman’s projected victory, it sent a subtle, pointed message: “The president had a great time with the senator-elect on Saturday,” a White House official told CNN.
While many Democrats in battleground seats tried to avoid Biden’s presence on the campaign trail, Fetterman embraced the president. Biden made several trips to Pennsylvania in the final months of the race, with Fetterman appearing with him, including last weekend in Philadelphia.
Biden’s Pennsylvania roots are an essential part of his story, his victory in 2020 is central to the presidency, and now, after 20 visits to the state in his first two years, it marks the first Democratic pickup in the decisive battle. Senate majority.
This story has been updated with additional developments.