Updated Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Fetterman flips Pennsylvania Senate seat in victory over Oz

John Fetterman speaks during a campaign event

John Fetterman speaks during a campaign event on Nov. 6 at the Zembo Shrine Auditorium in Harrisburg, Pa. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democrat John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, flipping a key seat previously held by a Republican, the Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: Democrats capitalized on one of their best opportunities to flip a Senate seat in a swing state after Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced his retirement.

Driving the news: Fetterman’s victory caps off a historic race — he experienced a stroke days before the primary, which he comfortably won.

The big picture: Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and former mayor of steel town Braddock, leveraged his unconventional style and staunch support of abortion rights to drive Democratic turnout in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and tap into the working-class vote.

Catch up quick: Fetterman’s commanding lead over Oz this summer shrunk significantly last month as Republicans rushed to attack Fetterman on criminal justice issues, including his push for clemency while leading the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.

  • Fetterman and Oz disagreed over abortion, the economy and other issues in their first and only debate in late October, after which both parties intensified their focus on Fetterman’s health.
  • Fetterman, in a recent Fox op-ed, defended his record on crime and plan to address inflation.
  • The race has cast disability into the spotlight as doctors and disability advocates praised his public recovery, while Republicans questioned his fitness to serve.

Of note: Fetterman’s team ran a largely digital campaign this summer while Fetterman was away from the campaign trail, flying a banner over the Jersey Shore welcoming Oz home, and enlisting Bruce Springsteen and “Snooki” of MTV fame to record videos that went viral.

  • In the closing days of the campaign, Fetterman appeared alongside both former President Obama and President Biden, who campaigned in Philadelphia this past weekend.

The other side: In the final months of the campaign, the Trump-endorsed Oz tried to pivot away from his MAGA connections, in an attempt to woo suburban voters alienated by the GOP's hard-right swing.

  • Republicans went all-in on Pennsylvania weeks before Election Day, with the Senate Leadership Fund linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spending $6 million in ads for Oz after slashing funding in New Hampshire.
Go deeper