Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman defeated Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, wrapping up one of the most closely watched races of the midterms just before 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.
‘We launched this campaign almost two years ago – and we had our slogan – and it’s on every one of those signs right now: every county, every vote,’ Fetterman said to a rowdy crowd still gathered at Stage AE in Pittsburgh. ‘And that’s exactly what happened – we jammed them up. We held the line.’
‘I never expected that we would turn these red counties blue, but we did what we needed to do,’ he continued.
‘And that’s why tonight I’ll be the next U.S. senator from Pennsylvania,’ Fetterman added.
NBC News, Fox News and CNN all called the race for the Democrat, after Fetterman led the count all night. The Associated Press has yet to call the race.
Fetterman’s crowd exploded in cheers as the lieutenant governor’s win was predicted by the networks.
As he walked onstage, Fetterman admitted surprise – as the count was expected to take several days.
‘I’m not really sure what to say right now, oh my goodness,’ he said, looking out over his supporters and family members.
A man shouted back: ‘Just say you’re a winner!’
‘I’m so humbled, thank you so much, really,’ Fetterman said.
A defiant Oz insisted around midnight said that he would win the race.
Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman defeated Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, wrapping up one of the most closely watched races of the midterms just before 1 a.m. Wednesday morning
As he walked onstage, Fetterman admitted surprise – as the count was expected to take several days
‘I’m not really sure what to say right now, oh my goodness,’ he said, looking out over his supporters and family members. A man shouted back: ‘Just say you’re a winner!’
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman tweeted that he won his U.S. Senate race before declaring victory at his election night party
‘When all the ballots are counted, we believe we will win this race,’ he said at his watch party in Newtown, Pennsylvania. ‘We’ve been closing the gap all night, and we have a lot more ballots to go.’
Early returns showed Fetterman way out ahead of Oz, as votes from the blue, urban areas poured in first. Votes from Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh and Braddock – where Fetterman served as mayor – and Philadelphia swung the race heavily toward the Democrat.
More conventional red counties, which are less populated, tilted toward Oz and were slower to report.
By midnight about a point separated the two candidates.
‘I have told you many, many times that I believe in you – traveled all over the Commonwealth to make that message clear – tonight you have told me that you believe in me,’ Oz told his crowd. ‘Bless you for that.’
‘Together we will heal Pennsylvania and we will heal America, God bless you,’ the Republican added.
In the other top Pennsylvania race, for governor, Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro was leading Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano by an even wider margin – indicating that some voters split their ticket and selected Shapiro and Oz.
Several networks have called the governor’s race for Shapiro, but it hasn’t yet been called by the Associated Press.
A defiant Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz insisted just after midnight Wednesday that he would win his tight Pennsylvania Senate race against John Fetterman, despite the Democrat leading him all night
Supporters of Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman cheer as results showed him ahead during the candidate’s election night party at Stage AE in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s Democratic Mayor Ed Gainey spoke early in the night at Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s election night shindig at Stage AE on the North Shore
The race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has been one of the most dramatic.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed fellow TV personality Oz over a more conventional conservative, David McCormick, leading to a nail-biter of a GOP primary.
Fetterman’s Democratic primary was a cake walk, but he suffered from a stroke just days before, taking him off the campaign trail for most of the summer and leaving him with continued ‘auditory processing’ issues.
He had to use closed captioning for his debate with Oz and still can’t answer reporters’ questions in an impromptu manner.
Exit polls out of the Keystone State held glimmers of good news for both parties.
For Democrats they could be buoyed by the fact that he No. 1 issue for Pennsylvania voters was abortion, with 36 percent saying so.
The second-largest percentage, 28 percent, said inflation, followed by 11 percrent who said crime.
Fetterman and Shapiro have both championed a woman’s right to choose after the June demise of Roe v. Wade. While Oz has hammered Fetterman on crime and has benefited from Democrats being in control of all three branches of government as inflation soared.
Pennsylvania exit polls also found that a super-majority said they didn’t want to see Biden run for president again. Sixty-nine percent said no, to just 28 percent who said yes.
Biden was out stumping for Fetterman and Shapiro over the weekend.
Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman (left), wearing his trademark gym shorts and a blue puffer jacket, pulled up in a pick-up truck to his polling place in Braddock, outside of Pittsburgh, and cast his ballot alongside his wife Gisele (right)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa cast their votes at Bryn Athyn Borough Hall, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
Fetterman greeted a voter as he emerged from the polling station on Tuesday. He trails Oz by 0.1 percent in the Real Clear Politics polling average
Fetterman and his wife Gisele walk back to their car after casting their ballots on Tuesday morning in Braddock, Pennsylvania
There’s already a legal battle raging over mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, but Election Day voters in Luzerne County will have two extra hours to vote Tuesday after polling places had a paper shorage.
Luzerne County judge Lesa S. Gelb ordered the extension saying voters ‘through no fault of their own, were disenfranchised and denied the fundamental right to vote.’
In the rest of the state, voters have to be in line by 8 p.m. to cast a ballot.
Former President Donald Trump won Luzerne County in both 2016 and 2020, but by a wider margin the first time around. President Joe Biden was able to get about 3 percent of the vote share back.
Before Trump, the county had previously voted Democratic in modern presidential cycles.
Both President Joe Biden and Trump made visits to Luzerne’s county seat, Wilkes-Barre, in late August and early September, highlighting the importance of the northeastern Pennsylvania region in the November races.
After Fetterman’s rocky debate performance, Pennsylvania’s polls have narrowed further, with Oz taking a .1 percent lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average in the last four days, making the race a true toss-up
In downtown Pittsburgh, a steady stream of voters came to County Office Building to drop off mail-in ballots Tuesday afternoon, with others there to ‘cure’ ballots that the county marked as undated or misdated.
Erika Karns, a 48-year-old nurse from West Mifflin said abortion was her ‘No. 1’ issue as she dropped off a ballot in support of Democrats Fetterman and Shapiro.
‘I am a nurse. So I feel that it’s wrong to take doctors and nurses’ privileges away. Unfortunately, I do work in the operating room. I see on a daily basis the need for abortion,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘And I feel that it’s very wrong for people to take our rights away, No. 1 as women, No. 2 as healthcare workers. Nobody else has the right to decide what a woman can or cannot do with our body. It is our body. It’s not a man’s body,’ she continued.
She also noted that her healthcare background assured her that Fetterman was fit to serve after suffering a stoke.
‘When you have a stroke, you’re stuck in your own mind,’ she explained. ‘It doesn’t affect your ability to make decisions.’
And Karns pointed out that Fetterman would have a staff to help him out.
‘I think that his mind is still intact,’ she said. ‘How somebody expresses themselves can always be supported and helped.’
Melanie Schultz, a 20-year-old student from Plum who attends Duquesne University, wouldn’t say who she voted for, but revealed why she came out.
‘There’s a lot of important issues specifically pertaining to women on the ballot this year that I felt were important, especially for the young generation, I thought it was an important thing to get out and have our voices be heard,’ she said.
When asked if the abortion issue was specifically what motivated her, Schultz responded, ‘It was one of the things I took into consideration today, yes.’
Eric Bray, a 56-year-old from North Versailles said he had stopped by the downtown election center to pick up a ballot for his hospitalized sister.
He said he had also cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election.
Bray described himself as a ‘conservative, hardcore,’ and indicated he had backed Oz.
‘He’s the lesser of two evils,’ he told DailyMail.com.
Adam Selvaggio, a 30-year-old from the North Hill who works in the spice industry, indicated he was more swayed by Fetterman’s messaging than Oz’s.
‘I feel like if you’re going to run for something, you should maybe live in the state you’re running in,’ he said, as Fetterman attacked Oz throughout the campaign for living in New Jersey. ‘That kind of bothers me a little bit,’ he told DailyMail.com of Oz’s carpetbagger status.
Selvaggio also didn’t buy Oz’s rhetoric that Fetterman was trying to clear out the prisons and release dangerous criminals back onto Pennsylvania’s streets.
‘They say he’s trying to let out thugs and stuff, but it’s more people that are in jail for marijuana … It’s medical now and I feel that people really shouldn’t be in jail for stuff like that,’ he said.
But Selvaggio mainly liked Fetterman because, ‘It just seems like he’s for the working class, it’s a blue collar city, a steel town, I feel like it was more the better route, and I don’t necessarily agree with Oz’s standpoints.’
Voters DailyMail.com talked with said they chose to drop off their mail-in ballots, because it was easy.
‘I don’t like standing in lines. I don’t like people standing over my shoulder that can probably see what I’m voting. I get to vote in privacy and I can physically drop it off and make sure it’s there,’ Karns explained.
Schultz said that because she attends school downtown, but is from a suburban Pittsburgh community, ‘It was just easier that way than going home to vote, convenience-wise, mail-in is easier.’
There was parking for voters out front, and Selvaggio confirmed election officials made sure his mail-in ballot was properly signed and dated.
‘It was pretty dope that it was super fast,’ said 36-year-old Wesley Gadsden of Point Breeze, who declined to share who he voted for. He said he dropped off his mail-in ballot, ‘because I am a procrastinator.’
Gadsden, who has done work in Pennsylvania politics, said he was confident that his vote would be counted but called it ‘scary’ that thousands of undated votes could be invalidated.
Voters wait in line to make a correction to their ballots for the midterm elections at City Hall in Philadelphia on Monday, as nearly 2,000 ballots were mailed in without a date and another 400 may have an incorrect date
Due to the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups winning a lawsuit in state court that would make undated mail-in ballots not count, thousands of voters in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas were alerted they must ‘cure’ their ballots.
In Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, nearly 1,000 voters were on a list of individuals who forgot to date or incorrectly dated their ballots.
In Philadelphia, the Board of Elections alerted nearly 2,000 their ballot lacked a date. Nearly 400 more potentially dated their ballots incorrectly.
Additionally, around 150 Philly voters didn’t sign their mail-in ballot, while around 1,000 voters turned in ‘naked’ ballots, meaning they forgot to mail in their ballots surrounded by a secrecy envelope.
Election officials advised these voters to come to the county election offices to cure their ballot, request a new mail-in ballot or vote by provisional ballot on Election Day to fix these mistakes.
Voters have until November 14 in Pennsylvania to ‘cure’ their ballot.
The Fetterman campaign has since filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the ruling, made by the divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
‘The Date Instruction imposes unnecessary hurdles that eligible Pennsylvanians must clear to exercise their most fundamental right, resulting in otherwise valid votes being arbitrarily rejected without any reciprocal benefit to the Commonwealth,’ attorneys for Fetterman and other Democratic groups argued.
‘The date on a mail ballot envelope thus has no bearing on a voter’s qualifications and serves no purpose other than to erect barriers to qualified voters exercising their fundamental constitutional right to vote. This unnecessary impediment violates the Civil Rights Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution,’ they continued.
Additionally, a judge in Monroe County in Northeast Pennsylvania on Monday green-lit the way for voters to be alerted that their ballots had mistakes.
Also, just the counting of the mail-in ballots alone could take several days.
On Monday, Fetterman’s campaign manager sent a memo to reporters advising them to ‘buckle up for a long week.’
‘This race is close, and we should all be prepared for a process that takes several days before all eligible voters are properly counted and the results are clear,’ said Fetterman’s Campaign Manager Brendan McPhillips.
In Pennsylvania this election cycle, 1.4 million mail-in ballots were requested.
According to Spotlight PA, roughly 70 percent of those requests came from registered Democrats.
And the biggest share of requests came from Allegheny County, which surrounds Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s suburban counties, including Bucks, Montgomery and Northampton, came after Allegheny and Philadelphia, in number of mail-in ballots requested.
Pennsylvania’s Republican-dominated legislature imposed a rule that won’t allow election workers to start counting the mail-in ballots until 7 a.m. Tuesday morning – meaning results from in-person voting could likely be reported before those ballots that were mailed in.
Fetterman’s campaign called this ‘an intentional move to help Republicans baselessly sow doubt about the election results when it suits them.’
Like in 2020, when former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden were on the ballot, Oz could look drastically ahead of Fetterman on election night, only to have his lead chipped away as more mail-in ballots are counted.
‘Because Pennsylvania is one of the only states that reports Election Day totals first before ballots cast by mail, and because more populated counties around Philadelphia can take longer to report, we should expect one of the most dramatic shifts in the country from initial GOP support in early results to stronger Democratic gains as more votes are processed,’ Fetterman’s campaign warned.
County officials in Allegheny, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties had originally told Spotlight PA they expected to be finished counting the mail-in ballots by Wednesday.
Now, Philadelphia could take even longer to report a result, as city commissioners imposed a procedure to catch double votes, as Republicans were suing if that safety check didn’t occur.
In Bucks County, an official estimated to Spotlight PA that the counting could be wrapped up by Wednesday or Thursday.