Democrat John Fetterman beat Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in the hotly contested race for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat, according to projections from Fox News, NBC News, and other outlets early Wednesday morning.
The tally had been too close to call after midnight, but Fetterman began getting the big check mark just before 1 a.m.
As the projected winner, Fetterman may help shift the balance of power in the Senate, which has been deadlocked at 50-50 since early 2021 — albeit with Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, holding the deciding vote. It’s also a pickup for Democrats, as the seat was held by retiring GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.
The Oz-versus-Fetterman contest received arguably the most attention nationwide, particularly when Oz began to chip away at Fetterman’s sizable lead and especially after Fetterman’s stroke earlier this year — and its cognitive effects on him — became a major issue.
What happened Tuesday night?
Around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fetterman was leading Oz by whopping 17 points with 20% of precincts reporting. But just after an hour, Oz had made significant gains, narrowing the gap to two points with 64% reporting.
At 11 p.m., the only Pennsylvania county that hadn’t reported was Bedford, which sits on the southern edge of the state and is heavily conservative. A few minutes later, when Bedford finally reported, Fetterman’s lead shrank to 1.1 points.
The Associated Press by 1:12 a.m. had not called the race, which showed Fetterman leading Oz by 1.4 points with 84% of precincts reporting. The vote totals stood at 2,446,089 for Fetterman and 2,380,124 for Oz, according to the AP.
What’s the background?
Oz had consistently trailed Fetterman in the polls, but Oz cut into Fetterman’s double-digit lead after the Senate primary in May to just a 3.7-point average differential by the end of September.
NBC News interviewed Fetterman a little over three weeks prior to Election Day, and he struggled to speak and understand the questions he was asked — even having to read a reporter’s questions from a computer.
It was more of the same during Fetterman’s late-October debate against Oz, as Fetterman started things off by saying: “Hi. Good night, everybody.”
Fetterman supports abortion with no limits and has vowed to end the filibuster. What’s more, he has attacked Oz for stating that “abortion is murder” and claimed the Republican doesn’t believe in exceptions for rape or incest.
On the eve of the midterms, Fetterman filed a federal lawsuit arguing that not counting ballots that violate Pennsylvania election law actually violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.