The endorsement from the Steel City’s largest newspaper comes one week after Fetterman, the commonwealth’s lieutenant governor who has struggled with cognition following a stroke in May, floundered during a debate between the two nominees. According to the publication’s editorial board, Oz has more effectively proven his willingness to interact with voters, while the status of Fetterman’s health raises significant concerns.
“His lack of transparency, however, in refusing to release his medical records is troubling. It suggests an impulse to conceal and a mistrust of the people,” the editorial board wrote of Fetterman. “All candidates for a major elected office should release their medical records, as did Mr. Oz. If you want privacy, don’t run for public office.”
The editorial board added that Fetterman wrongly characterized Oz’s “legitimate calls” for him to release health records as “mean-spirited and insensitive.” Gisele Barreto Fetterman, the wife of John Fetterman, likewise rebuked an NBC News journalist who reported on his cognitive issues by calling for “some accountability” and labeling her an “ableist.”
Among other issues with Fetterman, the editorial board did not go along with Fetterman’s branding as a blue-collar, rust-belt American, noting that “despite his hoodies and shorts,” he has “little experience in holding real jobs or facing the problems of working people.” They observed that Fetterman has benefited from his family’s wealth for his entire adult life, which enabled him to make a full-time job of serving as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, a small Pittsburgh-area town that pays its top executive $1,800 per year.
As economic issues are the most pressing concern for voters nationwide, residents in energy-rich western Pennsylvania have their eye on the practice of fracking as a means of boosting the state economy. Fetterman struggled during the debate when asked to justify his past opposition to fracking, saying “with a straight face” that he always supported the technique, as noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In contrast, the editorial board concluded that Oz had “achieved his worldwide fame and success largely through his own talent and determination.” Commending his willingness to spend a significant amount of time listening to voters in poor urban areas, they believe he could continue the “Pennsylvania tradition of moderate Republicans” in the Senate.
“We’re encouraged that Mr. Oz is portraying himself as a unifier who will work with Democrats to get things done for Pennsylvania,” the editorial board wrote. “It remains to be seen whether he can pull that off, but he has the potential to become an influential, thoughtful and independent senator. Mr. Oz is likable, engaging, extremely smart and a good listener. Yes, he can sound like a smooth-talking salesman, but that may be what it takes to get deals done in Washington.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which has shifted toward the right in recent years, made waves when it endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election, marking the first time the outlet had backed a Republican in nearly half a century as the best choice of commander-in-chief for western Pennsylvania. The endorsement of Trump, who endorsed Oz in this cycle, against President Joe Biden also centered upon economic issues crucial for workers in the region.