Fetterman wins U.S. Senate Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania

Chris Ullery
Erie Times-News

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is projected to be the Democratic nominee in the Senate race this November barely an hour after polls closed Tuesday night.

Fetterman easily secured his party’s nomination for an open Senate seat, despite being forced off the campaign trail by a stroke. The 52-year-old cast an emergency absentee ballot from the hospital and later tweeted that he’d successfully undergone surgery to install a pacemaker and was “on track for a full recovery.”

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a Democrat, is running for the U.S. Senate currently held by departing Senator Pat Toomey.

Fetterman managed to take about 54% of the 277,828 votes in the Democratic race counted by about 9 p.m., when the Associated Press called the race.

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb at about 31%, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta at 10% and Jenkintown council member Alexandria Khalil at 4%.

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The former Braddock mayor posted an excited thank you message to voters minutes later on his Twitter account, a social media platform Fetterman used often throughout his campaign.

Fetterman underwent pacemaker surgery earlier Tuesday evening to alleviate an issue with his heart that led to the stroke he suffered late last week. Fetterman was out of surgery before 7:20 Tuesday night.

Gisele Barreto Fetterman, the wife of Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, who is the projected Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate for Pennsylvania, right, greets supporters at a hotel in Imperial, Pa., to watch election returns Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

“The fact that so many of you entrusted me with your vote means the world to me, and it’s something I’ll never take for granted. I’m feeling better every day, and I’m going to be back on the campaign trail to thank you all in person soon,” Fetterman said in a statement released late Tuesday night.

"Control of the Senate is going to come down to Pennsylvania, and we have to flip this seat. We have a hard fight ahead of us – but Pennsylvania is worth fighting for," Fetterman added.

One of the biggest questions of the night is who will compete against Fetterman in the fall. Trump’s preferred candidate, Mehmet Oz, has divided conservatives and faces what looks like a far tougher race. Some are suspicious of the ideological leanings of the celebrity heart surgeon who gained fame as a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. Oz has spent much of the campaign in a heated fight with former hedge fund CEO David McCormick.

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That’s allowed commentator Kathy Barnette to emerge in the final days of the primary as a conservative alternative to both Oz and McCormick. Should she win the primary and general election, Barnette would be the first Black Republican woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

Denise Seiffer, middle, and her husband, John, talk with Gisele Barreto Fetterman, left, the wife of Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, who is the projected Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate for Pennsylvania, at a hotel in Imperial, Pa., to watch election returns Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Trump, who has held campaign-style rallies with Oz, insists he is the best candidate to keep the Senate seat in Republican hands in the fall. Given his level of involvement in the race, a loss would be a notable setback for the former president, who is wielding endorsements as a way to prove his dominance over the GOP ahead of a potential 2024 presidential run.

The year’s midterm primary season is entering its busiest stretch with races also unfolding in Kentucky, Oregon and Idaho.