With two weeks to go before the momentous mid-term elections in the United States, the eyes of the entire country are once again turning to Pennsylvania. The hinge state once again aims to be decisive, this time in the disputed fight for the Senatethe chamber that the Democrats control only by the vote of the vice president, Kamala Harris and where on November 8 35 of the 100 seats are voted.
But Pennsylvania is also where he has special attention donald trumpwhich aims to replicate the 2020 strategy of question and challenge unfavorable outcomesusing this new crusade as a “dress rehearsal” for a potential presidential race in 2024. And the state whose nickname is “the cornerstone” is once again at the center of an election and, perhaps, at the epicenter of another political earthquake.
The Senate race
The faults of that earthquake have been moving in recent months. not so long ago John Fettermann, the lieutenant governor who is Democratic Senate candidateor, had a comfortable lead of more than 10 points over the Doctor Mehmet Oza cardiologist who was popular media figure before making the leap into politics and achieving, with the trump endorsementthe Republican nomination.
With his two meters tall, tattoos, goatee, his taste for sports shorts and hoodies, Fetterman is a Democrat with a singular image. Progressive but with the experience of 13 years as mayor of Braddock, a small town near Pittsburgh affected by the deindustrialization and mostly black and low-income, Fetterman connected with the working class and with his concerns he was seen as a good option for win back rural voters of Trump in a state that Biden won in 2020 state by only one point, supported especially by urban centers.
But Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in may just before the primaries and drag sequels with listening comprehension and expression problems, He has been seeing how his rival shortened the distances. The Republican camp questioned the Democrat’s ability to be physically and cognitively recovered and prepared to hold office. But besides, Dr. Oz was advancing between a electorate which, as at the national level, is giving wings in this final stretch of campaign to the republicanswho focus their message on the inflationthe crime fighting wave immigrationissues on which Oz accuses Fetterman of holding “extremist” and “radical” positions.
Thus the fight has become red hot, making the fight for the seat in Pennsylvania, from which the moderate Republican senator Pat Toomey withdraws, be marked along with those of Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona and Ohio such as those that will define the control of the Upper House.
an awkward debate
In these circumstances, on Tuesday night, a debate between Fetterman and Oza face to face where the candidates have reproduced in person the sour attacks that have been running for months in ads and messages. It was a duel that the Democrat had resisted fighting before the cameras and in which they had enabled special measuresLike setting up screens where Fetterman could read instant written transcripts of what the moderators and Oz were saying. And according to some Democrats, it would have been better if he had continued to refuse to debate (Republicans had been calling for more than one debate for months, and for one to be held before September 19, when early voting began in Pennsylvania).
Although, as he has done in his strictly controlled and limited public events, the candidate has insisted that he is on the road to recovery and ready to serve, as his doctors have attested, during the hour of the debate his speech problems, with serious difficulty articulating your speech or finding words. Those predicaments have been especially significant when he has addressed his political positions on the ‘fracking’ and he has hesitated and given a disjointed response to a question about past statements rejecting hydraulic quarrying, which is critical to Pennsylvania’s economy and which he now supports.
The Fetterman’s performancewho has never been a great communicator but was also compared to a man who had his own television program for 13 years and handles himself with extreme ease in front of the cameras, has been uncomfortable. It has come to be defined in Axios as “painful”. And that in the debate, as until now, the Democrat has not wanted to commit to making public the complete medical reports on his condition is not going to help him.
How the voters will react remains to be seen, but the meeting has also served to remind two very different political proposals. Fetterman, for example, has supported raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 in Pennsylvania to $15; Oz, for his part, has defended that “market forces have already taken charge of raising it”. And although the mobilization in rejection of the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the constitutional protection of the right to abortion that in the summer gave the Democrats a boost, they will undoubtedly try to exploit the words of Doctor Oz during the debate. Although since he won the primaries he has somewhat moderated his radical positions (he went so far as to say that any interruption of pregnancy “is still murder”), this Tuesday he declared that the decision must be made “women, doctors and local political leaders”.
Pre-debate polls show Fetterman just two points ahead of Oz, within the polls’ margin of error. And that tight race doesn’t just have Democrats on edge. The ex-president Trump has been keeping meetings in person and calls with allies, activists and lawyers in which they are preparing plans to challenge election results if Oz doesn’t sweep Fetterman or if the count on or after Nov. 8 itself is tight.
The idea, as revealed by ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, is replicate the challenge that he already carried out in the 2020 presidential elections in Pennsylvania and in Democratic urban fiefdoms such as Philadelphia. And a source from the magazine who has spoken with Trump about that potential scenario has said that the former president sees that challenge to the results of the midterm elections as “a general essay” from his possible presidential campaign in 2024.Electoral ‘deniers’
This new assault on the integrity of the US electoral system, Trump will also try to support it in reaching positions with electoral responsibilities such as governors and secretaries of state that are going to be decided in these elections, in which a high percentage of Republican candidates have embraced his discredited theories about non-existent voter fraud. And although in Pennsylvania the gubernatorial candidate who supports the former president, Doug Mastrianotrailing far behind Democrat Josh Shapiro, state attorney general, in the polls, his mere candidacy exemplifies the weight and influence with which Trump still dominates the Republican Party and the impact of trumpism.
Retired Colonel and State Senator, Mastrian it is one of the most extreme candidates in these elections. is opposed to abortion no exceptions, and as a senator he proposed that women who terminated their pregnancies after six weeks be charged with murder. He also wages a crusade against the rights of transgender and he said that he Gay marriage should be banned and that same-sex couples should not be able to adopt.
representative of the christian nationalismwith links to groups of extreme right and once portrayed in the confederate uniform that is a symbol of racism, he has attacked Shapiro, a Jew, and has made numerous antisemitic commentsas well as against Islam, a religion he has said is “not compatible” with the US Constitution.
Mastriano is also one of the numerous “election deniers” who refuse to accept the legitimate results of 2020. That year he was the contact person in Pennsylvania for the Trump campaign. He went so far as to present a motion, without legal basis, to decertify the electoral results in his state. Y arranged and paid for buses to take people on January 6, 2021 to the protests in Washington, in which he participated in personwhich ended with storming the Capitol.
Although he trails Shapiro in the polls, if he were to win on November 8 he has vowed to deregister Pennsylvania’s 8.7 million voters and force them to re-register. Y it would be up to him to directly appoint the Secretary of Statea fundamental position in the management of elections that in most states is elected by citizens at the polls but in Pennsylvania appoints the governor.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.