Nov 3, 2022 - Politics

Voter Guide: Meet the candidates for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat

Illustration of the U.S. Capitol over a divided blue and red background with elements of ballots.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Pennsylvania's bitter and expensive U.S. Senate race may tip the balance of power in Congress.

Why it matters: The open race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey could be a bellwether for determining control of a tightly divided Senate next year.

The big picture: Turnout will likely play a critical role in determining the winner.

  • Philly has more than 1 million registered voters, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by a nearly 7-to-1 margin.
  • The result: Democrats need strong voter turnout to win statewide races, while lower turnout in the city favors Republicans.

The bottom line: Go vote by Nov. 8.

Editor's note: All candidates were invited to complete Axios Philly's 2022 Election questionnaire. Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.

  • Oz did not return Axios' multiple requests to participate.

โœ๏ธ Scroll down to see the Q/A.

๐Ÿ‘‹ Meet the candidates

John Fetterman
John Fetterman speaks to supporters at Dickinson Square Park in Philadelphia on Oct. 23. Photo: Kriston Jae Bethel / AFP via Getty Images

Democrat: John Fetterman, 53, is the state's lieutenant governor. He lives in Braddock.

Mehmet Oz
Mehmet Oz speaking during a press conference on Sept. 6 in Philadelphia. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Republican: Mehmet Oz, 62, is a celebrity surgeon who gained fame from his television talk show "The Dr. Oz Show." He lives in Bryn Athyn.

Erik Gerhardt
Erik Gerhardt. Photo courtesy of the Gerhardt campaign

Libertarian: Erik Gerhardt, 37, runs his own carpentry business. He lives in Pennsburg.

Richard Weiss
Richard Weiss. Photo courtesy of the Weiss campaign

Green: Richard Weiss, 55, has worked as an attorney for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He lives in Bethel Park.

Daniel Wassmer
Daniel Wassmer. Photo courtesy of the Wassmer campaign

Keystone: Daniel Wassmer, 62, is an attorney and college professor. He lives in Hawley.

๐Ÿ’ญ Let the Q&A beginโ€ฆ

Illustration of a pattern of checkmarks that turn into question marks and vice versa, over a red and blue background with a pattern of ballot elements.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Answers have been lightly edited for style and length. We've indicated that Oz declined to participate with the โ›” emoji. When possible, we've linked to answers based on Oz's campaign website and his responses during debates and news interviews.

Do you support raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25, yes (โœ…) or no (โŒ)?

Fetterman: โœ…

Oz: โ›” (but he addresses the issue here)

Gerhardt: โŒ

Weiss: โœ…

Wassmer: โŒ

If yes, what would you set the minimum wage to? Respond in one sentence or less.

Fetterman: At least $15 per hour.

Weiss: $15 an hour.

Do you support placing new federal restrictions on access to abortion, yes (โœ…) or no (โŒ)?

Fetterman: โŒ

Oz: โ›” (but it appears it would be โŒ)

Gerhardt: โŒ

Weiss: โŒ

Wassmer: โŒ

Do you support establishing new gun restrictions, yes (โœ…) or no (โŒ)?

Fetterman: โœ…

Oz: โ›” (but it appears it would be โŒ)

Gerhardt: โŒ

Weiss: โœ…

Wassmer: โŒ

If yes, what's one measure you would support or propose? Answer in three sentences or less.

Fetterman: I will make sure law enforcement has the resources necessary to do their job and keep illegal guns off the street. We also need to immediately pass common-sense gun reforms like universal background checks, red flag laws, and a ban on military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Weiss: Reenact the 1994 assault weapons ban as well as further legislation defining military and civilian grade weapons. Military grade weapons would not be available to the public.

Do you support legalizing marijuana, yes (โœ…) or no (โŒ)?

Fetterman: โœ…

Oz: โ›” (but it appears it would be โŒ)

Gerhardt: โœ…

Weiss: โœ…

Wassmer: โœ…

What's one big idea to address the opioid crisis, in three sentences or less?

Fetterman: We need comprehensive solutions to address this crisis, including harm reduction strategies, investing in treatment, cracking down on drug trafficking, holding Big Pharma accountable, and partnering with law enforcement to keep our communities safe. One of the reasons I strongly support decriminalizing marijuana is that law enforcement resources should be focused on combating serious crime to actually make Pennsylvania safer.

Oz: โ›”

Gerhardt: More care centers based on rehabilitation and daily work discipline.

Weiss: Those who express interest should be provided overdose education, counseling, and treatment for substance use disorder as well as infectious diseases. Provide opioid overdose reversal training and medication such as naloxone to individuals at risk and those who might respond to an overdose. Provide substance test kits, including fentanyl test strips.

Wassmer: Abolish the War on Drugs which is a complete failure since it started under Richard Nixon. Take all of the money we spend on policing and interdiction and plow it into mental health as well as rehab. This would actually result in people staying within their neighborhoods where friends and family would be able to intervene for support.

Sum up how you would address climate change, in one sentence.

Fetterman: I hope that we are able to transition entirely to clean energy before my children are my age, and I would support actions to do so while also upholding the union way of life for workers across Pennsylvania who work in the natural gas industry.

Oz: โ›”

Gerhardt: Protect our planet and water supplies.

Weiss: A just transition to renewable energy as quickly as possible.

Wassmer: I would like to have a national dialogue on this issue since candidly as a former environmental science major I have significant questions I would like to see discussed.

Name 1 big thing you will accomplish in your first year, in 15 words or less.

Fetterman: I will vote to eliminate the filibuster and pass meaningful legislation for Pennsylvania's working people.

Oz: โ›”

Gerhardt: Tax breaks.

Weiss: Lower age for current Medicare to 55. Call a vote on Medicare For All Act.

Wassmer: Allowing greater access to the electoral process to change the dialogue in our country.

๐ŸŽ‰ What is 1 fun thing voters don't know about you?

Illustration of a white shrug emoji over a divided blue and red background with elements of ballots.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Fetterman: ๐Ÿงˆ I lobbied for the Pennsylvania Farm Show's annual butter sculpture โ€” a half ton of butter โ€” to be molded into Gritty in 2020, and I succeeded!

Oz: โ›”

Gerhardt: ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ I ran for president of the United States.

Weiss: ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ I speak Indonesian.

Wassmer: ๐Ÿคฟ I am a scuba instructor, artist and a sculptor.

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