Fetterman projected to defeat Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race

(WASHINGTON) — Pennsylvania’s Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will win the state’s marquee Senate race, ABC News projects, handing Democrats a major flip in their bid to keep control of the 50-50 upper chamber.

Fetterman ran against Dr. Mehmet Oz, the GOP nominee and celebrity surgeon. The two sought to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

On social media, Fetterman said: “It’s official. I will be the next U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. We bet on the people of Pennsylvania – and you didn’t let us down. And I won’t let you down. Thank you.”

Fetterman’s victory marks a key step in Democrats’ quest to keep the Senate, which is currently evenly divided, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties.

Fetterman easily won the Democratic primary in May over Rep. Conor Lamb despite suffering a stroke just days before. Oz, meanwhile, slogged through a brutal primary battle against a crowded field that included former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick and conservative activist Kathy Barnette, both of whom repeatedly questioned Oz’s conservative bona fides.

The lieutenant governor, a hulking figure with a goatee and forearm tattoos, cut a populist and irreverent profile throughout his campaign, describing himself as an ally for the working class and touting on his website that he’d push to “make more s— in America” and “end immoral price gouging.”

Oz, meanwhile, veered sharply to the right during his primary, saying America couldn’t “move on” from the 2020 election and likening abortion to murder before moving back toward the middle during the general election, focusing on worries about crime and high inflation under the Democratic federal government.

Fetterman was off the trail for months after the primary as he recovered from his stroke but maintained a relentless social media campaign targeting Oz, highlighting Oz’s longtime residence in New Jersey to cast him as a carpetbagger, criticisms which Oz sought to shrug off.

Fetterman also pushed to tie Oz to other Republicans seeking to restrict abortion access, though Oz said he would be a moderate on the issue.

During the final weeks of the campaign, Oz was able to close a significant polling gap with Fetterman, according to FiveThirtyEight. Oz and his allies focused in part on an advertising onslaught casting Fetterman as soft on crime, accusations that Fetterman denied but strategists in both parties conceded was effective.

Still, Oz appeared to struggle to win over some skeptical voters in the GOP’s far-right flank, even getting booed at rallies with Trump.

Pennsylvania has found itself at the center of the political map for both parties, with Trump winning the state in 2016 by the narrowest of margins and President Joe Biden then flipping the state back after another hotly contested race in 2020.

Fetterman will join Pennsylvania’s senior senator, Democrat Bob Casey, in the upper chamber.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.