Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will return to campaigning next week after recovering from a stroke in May. The Democratic Senate candidate will hold a rally in Erie, Penn., next Friday.
The rally will mark his first major public campaign appearance since his stroke, which occurred shortly before the state primary. Since then, Fetterman has mostly engaged with voters through social media and advertising while he recovers, in addition to a series of fundraisers he attended last month.
Erie County is an important stop for the Keystone State. President Donald Trump won it in 2016 by just 1 point over Hillary Clinton. In 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden flipped it back to blue, also by just 1 point. In May, Fetterman won Erie County in the Democratic primary with 23,200 votes, nearly 80% of the primary vote. In the Republican primary, his opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz, who visited Erie Wednesday, came in second in the county, receiving 7,500 votes.
“Before the 2020 election, I said if I could know just one fact about the results, I could tell you who’s going to win Pennsylvania. Whoever wins Erie County is going to win Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said. “I’ve visited Erie dozens and dozens of times in the past and I’m honored and proud to be back campaigning here.”
Hours after the rally was announced, Fetterman’s team also revealed that the campaign had gone overboard 1 million in individual contributions since its release last year.
The Senate race in Pennsylvania is a critical battleground for both parties fighting over who will control the Senate after the November election. Democrats see it as a potential pickup, with GOP Sen. Pat Toomey retiring.
Although he’s been out of the campaign for a few months, Fetterman still leads Oz in recent polls. A Fox News poll in late July showed him leading Oz by 11 points. The USA Today/Suffolk poll in June had him up 9 points.
Since the primary, Fetterman’s campaign has spent nearly $4.5 million in statewide advertising, including more than $1 million in digital ads. By comparison, Oz and the National Republican Senatorial Committee together have spent just over $3.5 million, and most of that came through the NRSC. Oz has spent just $17,000 on digital ads.
Fetterman has also poked fun at Oz, a well-known TV personality, with a series of viral videos in which he has been labeled out of touch with Pennsylvania voters and accused of being a carpetbagger. One video featured a mash-up of clips of Oz talking about being from New Jersey. Fetterman’s campaign also trolled him with videos of famous New Jerseyans, including Snooki from the reality show “Jersey Shore” and former “Sopranos” star Stevie Van Zandt.
Most recently in another video released by Fetterman’s campaign, Oz is seen kissing his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, playing basketball on a private court, and ziplining.
“It’s very hard to see a significant difference in happiness between someone making $50,000 and $50 million,” Oz can be heard saying in the video posted to Twitter.
Minutes before Fetterman’s campaign announced the dispersion, Oz’s team took aim at Fetterman’s absence from the campaign by launching a new website showing that Fetterman has not had an in-person campaign event since May 12.
“Clearly, Fetterman is afraid to publicly answer for a good life on his parents’ money and his radical positions on banning fracking, decriminalizing all drugs, allowing sanctuary cities, and letting criminals off our streets.” , said Brittany Yanick, Oz’s Communications. Director. “Meanwhile, Dr. Mehmet Oz is standing up for Pennsylvanians and will continue to defend John Fetterman who refuses to answer for his dangerous views. Pennsylvanians deserve answers.”