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Saturday, November 26, 2022

The unlikely pairing: Pennsylvania Democrats aim for a United Front

Harrisburg, Pa. ( Associated Press) — A candidate who is boldly blunt, ready to embrace progressive positions, doing little to build rapport with party leaders and dominating room with a 6-foot-8-inch frame Huh. Others craft a more liberal image, a deliberate public speaker who became an ally of Congress outside of college and has since built cautious ties within the party.

In both style and essence, John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro strike dramatically different profiles.

Yet his fate – and that of the Democratic Party – is linked in a pair of Pennsylvania elections that will be one of the most-watched in America.

Fetterman offers Democrats their clearest path to taking a US Senate seat, which could go a long way in helping the party take control of the chamber.

Shapiro, meanwhile, presents an even bigger existential question as he faces a Republican rival for governor who has stoked conspiracies about the last presidential election and is critical of running the next one in the major battlefield. Will have effect.

“The stakes have never been higher, the opposite has never been clearer,” Shapiro told state Democratic Party committee members at Saturday’s meeting in Gettysburg. “This Commonwealth has the power to decide whether or not we have a 51st senator. This Commonwealth has the power to decide whether the great experiment that began in the city of Philadelphia 245 years ago continues.

With the stakes so high, Fetterman and Shapiro are working toward a united front ahead of fall’s election.

They are participating in a coordinated campaign funded and conducted by national and state party organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Governors Association, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Together, these groups could send more money to Pennsylvania than anywhere else to register voters and persuade voters, in what the state party calls “the largest and earliest mid-term coordinated campaign in Pennsylvania’s history”. .

Such help from national organizations may be badly needed in a large swing state.

After endorsing Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign, Pennsylvania came close to Joe Biden in 2020 — but by only 1 percentage point. And Democrats ready for the 2022 campaign are already facing major challenges.

Fetterman suffered a stroke just days before winning his party’s nomination for the Senate race last month and has yet to return to the campaign trail, or give much indication of when he will do so. And both candidates will be running in a difficult environment for Democrats, one that will be weighed down by Biden’s unpopularity and rising prices of everyday goods, food and gasoline.

Colleagues of both the missions say that coordination has begun.

Fetterman’s and Shapiro’s campaigns say they have been in frequent contact, and Shapiro says he has texted with Fetterman since Fetterman’s stroke.

Campaign aides say they expect the men to appear together at large events, such as rallies, regional campaign office openings or at party events to raise funds, promote polling, or highlight down-ticket candidates. to help.

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Earlier this month, Fetterman’s wife, Gisele, stood by Shapiro at an event where he spoke at the opening of a coordinated campaign office in Pittsburgh.

“I’m looking forward to getting John out of here, and I know he’s going to have a bit of a bite to get out there too,” Shapiro said on Friday. Fetterman’s campaign said in a statement that “we look forward” to campaigning with Shapiro and helping other Democrats on the fall ballot.

For now, Fetterman’s health hangs over the campaign, amid questions about whether he’s being honest about the seriousness of his condition.

Fetterman’s neurologists and cardiologists have not taken questions from reporters, and the campaign revealed three weeks after the stroke that he also had a serious heart condition.

Republican campaign coordination is run through the Republican National Committee, but the party’s top-ticket candidates — celebrity heart surgeon Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano — have so far not made any concrete commitments to campaign together. .

In a statement, Oz’s campaign said he “supports the Republican ticket in Pennsylvania because he believes we need to send a message to Joe Biden about inflation, gas prices, and the out-of-control crime problem.” is” and “look forward to seeing (Mastriano) on the mark this summer.”

The campaigns have not said whether Oz and Maastriano have met other than exchanging text messages after their primary win. Maastriano’s campaign did not answer questions.

Party leaders and campaign strategists watch Maastriano with caution. He has spread Trump’s lies about widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election and was a major proponent in Pennsylvania of Trump’s campaign to reverse the result. He was also in the crowd outside the US Capitol during a January 6, 2021, attack by Trump supporters after attending a “Stop the Steel” rally nearby.

If they campaign together, it can be uncomfortable: Maastriano, a state senator, supported Oz’s opponent in the primary and criticized Oz on the campaign trail, suggesting at one point that Oz was actually a liberal and Is a carpet badger—a nod to Oz moving from his longtime home in New Jersey to run in Pennsylvania.

Also, before Maastriano was elected to the state Senate in 2019, he repeatedly posted Islamophobic content on Facebook. Oz is a Muslim.

In a statement, the RNC said it has been “on the ground” in Pennsylvania since 2016, training and mobilizing activists, registering voters, opening offices, and working with the state party and its candidates.

For now, Republicans are trying to portray Fetterman and Shapiro as extreme, but also took note of Fetterman’s stroke in a digital ad, suggesting he’s not being honest about its implications.

“Is John Fetterman Telling the Truth About His Health?” A Narrator Says in Digital Advertising by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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Democrats insist they are not concerned about Fetterman recovering from a stroke, and in Delaware County, party president Colleen Guinn, said it would be talked about only to distract from important issues, such as Republican county squabbles. Attempts to destroy democracy and renders the Senate useless through filibuster.

Fetterman has avoided media interviews as party leaders – including Biden – try to reassure rank-and-file Democrats that Fetterman is okay and will be able to resume campaigning soon.

“I know he can’t wait to get back on the mark,” Biden said during remarks at the AFL-CIO conference in Philadelphia last week. “he looks nice.”

Fetterman and his wife gave a 90-second video address played on Saturday at a state party committee meeting in Gettysburg. In it, Fetterman insists on the Shapiro-Fetterman ticket to go against “the ticket to Oz-Mastriano’s extreme, bizarre and dangerous”.

“I’m very proud to be a part of the ticket here,” Fetterman said. “And this year we have Josh Shapiro to be our next governor. And let me tell you, we’ll be back very soon, to come back up to 100% in each of our 67 counties, because Josh and I will always be a complete Committed to the -67-county campaign.”

Shapiro and Fetterman’s political relationship dates back to at least 2016, when Fetterman hosted a fundraiser for Shapiro at his home in Braddock.

Still, Shapiro and Fetterman have had a strained relationship at times over conflicting stances on the state pardon board — and a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer just days before the primary election underscored this.

Citing unnamed people as the source, the Inquirer reported that Fetterman had threatened to run for governor against Shapiro a few years ago—unless Shapiro voted for certain applicants in front of the pardon board.

Shapiro did, but denied that politics influenced his votes or that any such talks with Fetterman ever took place, and a spokesman for the attorney general’s office called the claim “nothing short of outrageous.” Fetterman has been silent about it.

Democrats say it is not a matter of debate among activists, but rather focused on what is happening in the November 8 election.

The election is about choosing between candidates who are “working for an effective government that will serve all of our communities,” and candidates “aligned with those who work for our own personal gain in the face of our democracy.” Are ready to sacrifice the original fabric.”

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Follow Mark Levy on Twitter at twitter.com/timelywriter.

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For full coverage of the midterm, follow the Associated Press at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

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This story has been corrected to show that Fetterman’s wife’s name is Giselle, not Giselle.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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