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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Fetterman wins Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary

The results of the primary will determine who squares off for the state’s open Senate and governor seats in November.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) — While recovering in the hospital after getting a pacemaker with a defibrillator put in Tuesday, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman was declared the winner of the Democratic primary for the state’s open Senate seat.

Following the announcement, President Joe Biden quickly endorsed the candidate for November’s general election.

“Electing @JohnFetterman to the United States Senate would be a big step forward for Pennsylvania’s working people,” Biden tweeted Tuesday night, saying the nominee “understood working class families in Pennsylvania and across the nation.”

Fetterman also took to Twitter Tuesday night to tell voters he was “deeply honored” to have been chosen as the Democratic nominee.

The candidate's campaign hit a speed bump this weekend when the former Bradford mayor landed in the hospital with a stroke.

“The good news is I’m feeling much better,” Fetterman tweeted Sunday, saying his doctors say he didn’t suffer any cognitive damage and that his campaign wasn’t slowing down. “I’m well on my way to a full recovery.”

Before the candidate's pacemaker surgery Tuesday, the Wolf administration announced that Pennsylvania Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman — who recently dropped out of the Republican race for governor — would temporarily assume the lieutenant governor’s duties.

“Fetterman may return to his powers and duties four days after a written declaration is sent by his office to the General Assembly noting that no disability exists,” the administration said, noting the transfer of power was short-term.

Around 9 p.m. Tuesday night, Fetterman, a 6-foot-8-inch tall Pennsylvania known for dressing in shorts and sweatshirts, was declared the winner. As of 11 p.m., he had 59% of the vote.

The candidate brought in about $16 million this election cycle, most of which comes from relatively small individual contributions.

The progressive’s opponents — U.S. Representative Conor Lamb, who paints himself as moderate, and liberal Malcolm Kenyatta from North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state house representative, held 26% and 9% of the vote respectively as of 11 p.m. Lamb and Kenyatta have raised around $6 million and $1.9 million respectively.

Both Kenyatta and Lamb congratulated Fetterman on his win Tuesday night and wished him a well recovery.

On the Republican side of the ticket, the open seat Senate race has drawn national attention for the celebrity doctor it has attracted as a candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who gave up his popular daytime talk show to run for Senate.

As of 11 p.m., Republican voters had given Oz 31% of the vote. Kathy Barnette, a former member of the military service and former adjunct professor of corporate finance who had hoped to be the first Black Republican woman in the Senate, had 24%. 

Harrisburg voter Craig Keefauver said Tuesday that he was swayed by Barnette by her military record. While his wife Mary said she’d voted for former financial manager David McCormick, who came into the race after having a career as a Connecticut-based hedge fund leader.

McCormick was narrowly leading with 31.6% of the vote.

“I think he has the best chance of winning in the general election in November,” Mary said of McCormick Tuesday.

Oz has loaned himself more than $12 million for the race and collected another $3 million from donors, while Barnette has raised $2 million. McCormick raised around $16 million, a total that includes an $11 million loan from himself.

On the Republican side of the governor’s race, Republican voters were most heavily backing Trump-endorsed candidate Doug Mastriano who was declared the winner of the primary around 11 p.m. Tuesday night with 44% of the vote.

His closest opponent, Lou Barletta, who held 21% of the vote raised around $1 million while Mastriano is estimated to have raised around $1.2 million. Both Republicans pushed to overthrow the 2020 election and bashed Governor Tom Wolf’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mastriano, a Trump supporter who has drawn widely from the former president’s support base, was actually in the crowd outside the U.S. Capitol when the insurrection occurred on Jan. 6, 2021. Shadowing Trump’s positions, he’s amplified conspiracies about the 2020 presidential election, opposed pandemic-related shutdowns, vaccines, masks and other precautions. 

Barletta had been backed by the Republican party as the more likely candidate to prevail in November's general election.

Because the Pennsylvania governor is responsible for tapping a secretary of state to oversee elections, the results could reverberate into the 2024 presidential race, which former President Trump is teasing to run in.

Since the Republican primary was so crowded, going into November Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro will have real advantages going up against Mastriano in November.

On Tuesday night he tweeted that Mastriano was “the most extreme gubernatorial candidate in the country.”

“He would ban abortion, end vote by mail, and rip away our freedoms,” Shapiro said of his November opponent.

Shapiro won the Democratic primary Tuesday as the only candidate on the ballot for Democrats for governor. He had been endorsed by current Democratic Governor Wolf, who will reach the end of his maximum two terms in office this year. Shapiro, who has been Pennsylvania’s attorney general since 2017, has shored up widespread support from his party, due in part to his popularity with voters. Not having to spend against competitors in the primary, the Democrat has around $15.8 million on hand going into November, according to the Department of State.

Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh Chapman estimated in an email to the press Tuesday night that all ballots will be counted in the next few days.

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