Things are heating up in the New Jersey, er, Pennsylvania Senate race between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz.
Oz, who emerged from one of the tightest primaries in the nation, is trailing in the polls and has been playing defense since winning the nomination. Scrutinized on everything from his former stances on abortion and gun control to his actual state of residence, (New Jersey), Oz has seemed more than a bit hapless in mounting any rebuttal. He’s most often turned to the usual Republican game of blame and conflate, tweeting things like: “As your next Senator, I want to help provide solutions to the crises we’re facing, NOT exacerbate them, which John Fetterman would do as Joe Biden’s puppet.”
Pennsylvanians, (and New Jerseyans), haven’t seemed to be buying. Headlines like this, from the New Jersey Globe, continue to pile up: “New Jersey man wins Pennsylvania U.S. Senate primary.” Oz, the Globe claims, is still registered to vote in New Jersey, despite having “moved” to PA last year to run for Senate.
New Jersey ‘Everyman’ ‘understands’ Pennsylvanians
But Oz still has cards to play. He’s got his Trump-endorsement, after all. And that’s not nothing in a state whose Republican party has nominated certifiably crazy Trump supporter Doug Mastriano for the governorship. Plus, Oz can always pose for more of these “everyman photos,” (although it would probably help if, next time, he remembered that most “everymen” don’t shovel dirt in slacks and a blazer).
Fetterman, meanwhile, has been pulling no punches on social media in highlighting noted phony Dr. Oz’s phoniness. Part of that is Fetterman’s genuine everyman appeal. In a race that well might determine control of the Senate, new polling for USA Today, conducted by B+ rated pollster Suffolk University, shows Fetterman with a commanding 9 point lead. This is thanks in large part to his ability to appeal to both progressives and Pennsylvania’s working class alike.
Forget politician, Fetterman doesn’t even look like a typical person
“People have been trying to label me my entire life,” he says in his first general election campaign ad. “I do not look like a typical politician. I don’t even look like a typical person.”
Fetterman, who has a shaved head, is 6’8″ and often campaigns in gym shorts and a hoodie, indeed does not look like a typical politician. Nor does he Social Media like one. His Tweets range from folksy guy-next-door just loving on his wife and dogs, to hilarious crack-backs at Dr. Oz, including one so devastating (pictured below) that Oz actually deleted his quoted tweet. This has made Fetterman something of a darling in national Democratic circles.
Can a Harvard grad who presents as anything but entitled provide a blueprint for national Democrats in how to campaign amid surging populism in the Post-Trump era?
Time will tell, but he just might.