In Pennsylvania, Democrats are racking up victories in the state.
Democrats won control of a crucial Senate seat on Tuesday night when Pennsylvanians elected John Fetterman. As of Wednesday morning, with over 90 percent of the vote in, Fetterman was leading Republican Mehmet Oz by just over 2 points, outpacing President Joe Biden’s 2020 win across virtually the entire state.
“We jammed them up. We held the line. I never expected that we were gonna turn these red counties blue. But we did what we needed to do.”
Fetterman’s race with celebrity doctor Oz turned ugly quickly. Six months before the election, Fetterman had a major stroke that took him off the campaign trail and made it difficult for him to have conversations or debate. His campaign turned to social media to paint Oz as an out-of-touch celebrity living in a mansion in New Jersey. Oz took shots at Fetterman’s fitness to serve after the stroke and painted him as soft on crime.
“We started this campaign almost two years ago, and we had our slogan,” Fetterman, dressed in a typical hooded sweatshirt, told cheering supporters just before 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. “Every county, every vote. That’s exactly what happened. We jammed them up. We held the line. I never expected that we were gonna turn these red counties blue. But we did what we needed to do.”
Though it’s unclear whether Democrats will be able to hold the Senate, Fetterman’s win gives the party breathing room as results still come in from Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia.
The victory in the Pennsylvania Senate race came as a surprise to some Democratic observers after polls in the final weeks of the race showed Fetterman’s lead had been cut in half since August. Oz surged thanks to the ads blanketing Pennsylvania media markets that painted Fetterman as a socialist. Despite inflation being a top issue for voters, abortion access appears to have driven some voters in Pennsylvania, after Oz said during a debate late last month that local political leaders should have a say in personal decisions regarding abortion.
“Pennsylvania’s voters are hurting,” said Joe Corrigan, a Democratic strategist. “Those voters saw right through the fraud that is Mehmet Oz.” Corrigan said Fetterman stuck with his positions in the face of “fearmongering ads.” “He leaned into his record as a criminal justice reformer and not away from it,” Corrigan said. “He’s brave and he was rewarded for it.”
A number of things broke right for Democrats in Pennsylvania and across the country, as exit polls showed that abortion was a top issues for voters, not crime. A potential red tsunami was staved off.
Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state that Biden won by 80,000 votes, saw a raft of key victories for Democrats in the 2022 midterms.
Democrats kept control of the governor’s mansion despite a competitive campaign run by Republican candidate Doug Mastriano. Democrats gambled on promoting the far-right candidate in the Republican primary, and the strategy paid off for Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro. Shapiro’s campaign spent just under $1 million on ads that highlighted Mastriano’s ties to Trump and extreme positions.
Democrats also held onto a congressional seat in Pittsburgh, with soon-to-be Squad member Summer Lee emerging victorious against Republican candidate Mike Doyle. The loss also represents a blow to the election efforts of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
The deep-blue seat suddenly looked shaky in the last weeks of the election when internal, private polls started to show Doyle, who shares a name with the outgoing Democratic incumbent, gaining on Lee. Democrats scrambled to fight millions of dollars spent by Republicans against Lee. The National Republican Congressional Committee attacked Lee as soft on crime, including in ads in a neighboring district that shares a media market with Pittsburgh.
Once the race tightened, AIPAC came in with a last-minute flood of cash. AIPAC’s election arm, United Democracy Project, had worked with major Democratic firms to attack Lee in the primary, and spent more than $3 million on the failed effort.
Progressive groups including Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, and SEIU Healthcare PA spent more than $1.6 million backing Lee. In a press release on Tuesday night, WFP Pennsylvania organizing director Nicolas O’Rourke called Lee’s win a victory against “right-wing and corporate forces” and said Lee would “join a growing bench of Working Families Democrats in Congress who will fight for higher wages, lower costs, safe communities, and clean air and water.”
The Republican ads against Lee in the neighboring 17th District were aiming to tie her to the Democratic candidate there, Chris Deluzio. The seat is currently held by Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa. Lamb gave up his seat to run in the Democratic Senate primary, which he lost to Fetterman by more than 30 percentage points in May.