Pennsylvania was seen by both sides as the front line of their strategies to win the chamber. Although Oz was passed and overtaken by Fetterman, the race for the Senate leading as the most expensive this cycle so far, with external money pouring in. (Georgia’s race could still ultimately claim the title if it goes ahead in December.)
Fetterman defeated Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) in their party’s primary, a victory for the progressives. And he’s led in the polls against Oz for most of the year, but the race got into biting territory in the final weeks as Oz seemed to be closing the gap thanks to an ordeal of GOP groups spending heavily against him.
Fetterman’s campaign has taken a multi-pronged approach to trying to beat Oz, portraying the wealthy celebrity doctor as out of touch and focusing on his longtime residence in New Jersey, while tracking national Democrats in using the Supreme Court. roe deer c. Wade reversal in an attempt to put Oz’s position on abortion in the spotlight.
Oz and his allies meanwhile spent the latter part of the campaign focusing on crime, mirroring a message the party rolled out in congressional races across the country. An ad from MAGA Inc., a super PAC founded by Donald Trump allies, accused Fetterman of wanting “ruthless killers, muggers and rapists back on our streets.”
As a sign of the times, their campaign has often taken place online in a meme war, among them a viral video of Oz wandering around a grocery store buying ingredients for rawness. (Oz later called it a joke.)
But the Democrat’s campaign was turned upside down when Fetterman suffered a stroke in May, returning to the track in August. Soon after, the Oz campaign issue statements making an issue of Fetterman’s diet and accusing him of being incapable of debating.
Oz appeared to distance himself from the attacks, telling NBC News he wouldn’t use that rhetoric about a patient. And Fetterman decided to try to address public concerns about his health, posting an announcement about the issue and medical reports.
The two finally had their first and only debate on Oct. 25, where Fetterman visibly stumbled with answers to some questions in a moment that made some Democrats cringe.
Pennsylvania was one of six open seats Republicans played in defense this year as minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saw a stable of its members, and some of its most trusted allies, heading for the exits.