News and Commentary

Oz, Fetterman Fill Their War Chests For Key Senate Race
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11: Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony for Dr. Oz on February 11, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
JC Olivera via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Senate candidates Dr. Mehmet Oz and Lt. Governor John Fetterman are filling their war chests for one of the nation’s most important midterm races.

Oz — a celebrity cardiologist and Republican nominee — has raised $15.2 million between March 17 and June 30, according to filings with the U.S. Federal Elections Commission. Though Fetterman — the former mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and the commonwealth’s Democratic nominee — has not yet reported his second quarter fundraising to the agency, he has raised $11 million between April and June, his campaign told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Nationwide, other Democratic nominees for the Senate have reported massive second quarter hauls. Rep. Val Demings (D), who is running against incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in Florida, has raised over $12.2 million, according to The Hill. Meanwhile, Rep. Tim Ryan (D) of Ohio raised $9.1 million in his campaign against venture capitalist and author JD Vance (R).

Though Fetterman has been largely absent from the campaign trail as a result of a stroke he suffered days before the primary election in May, he still boasts 46% of the vote against Oz’s 37%, according to a USA Today Network and Suffolk University poll released last month. A more recent poll of voters 50 years old and above from AARP shows Oz with 46% and Fetterman with 49%, although 23% of respondents remain “persuadable.”

Other Democrats had been concerned with Fetterman’s condition, according to a report from NBC News. One elected Pennsylvania Democrat told the outlet that there has been “no indication” of a timeline for Fetterman’s return to the campaign trail. “A lot of us Democratic Party types are very nervous about it.”

Yet cardiologist Ramesh Chandra said in a letter that Fetterman is clear to continue the race as long he takes his medication, exercises, and eats healthy. “If he does what I’ve told him, and I do believe that he is taking his recovery and his health very seriously this time, he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem,” Chandra wrote.

While remaining away from the campaign trail, Fetterman has criticized Oz for living in New Jersey ahead of announcing his candidacy in the Pennsylvania elections — including by enlisting “Jersey Shore” reality television star Snooki to record a video beckoning Oz back to the Garden State.

Despite lagging in the polls, Oz is likely benefiting from the low popularity of President Joe Biden, a Democrat with a dismal 33% approval rating in one New York Times poll. Indeed, the USA Today and Suffolk survey showed that Pennsylvanians disapprove of President Biden by a 54% to 39% margin, with more than half of the electorate saying they “want their vote in November to change the direction in which Biden is leading the nation.”

Likewise, 48% of Pennsylvanians said that their standard of living is worse, while 17% said it is better — a significant reversal from 31% reporting better conditions and 17% reporting worse in 2018. The poll was taken when the reported Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate was 8.6% — a metric that was most recently reported at 9.1%.

More Pennsylvanians have a pessimistic outlook on the economy in comparison to the 2018 midterms. The portion of voters characterizing economic conditions as “poor” nearly quadrupled in four years — from 12% to 45%. Only 1% of voters described the economy as “excellent.”

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