(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman delivered a resounding early morning victory to fellow Democrats, winning a pivotal U.S. Senate race over Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke and was visibly in recovery during a debate with the former TV host on Oct. 25, was about 2.4% ahead with more than 86% of the vote in just after 1 a.m. His lead of 50% to 47.6% among more than 4.7 million votes cast first earned the calls of both Fox News and CNN. The AP followed shortly after.
Addressing his supporters in the wee hours of the morning, Fetterman said, “I’m so humbled. This campaign has always been about fighting for everyone who has ever been knocked down that ever got back up.”
The race was pivotal to both major political parties in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.
Politicos were prepared for a long, drawn-out wait – days even – to decide the Keystone State victor. In the May primary, it was more than two weeks after Election Day before a recount ended with an Oz victory in the GOP election.
Not this time.
Election Day began with a blood moon lunar eclipse just before dawn and ended with Democrats showing better strength than forecast. At 2 a.m. Wednesday, control of Congress was still up in the air.
“While many races remain too close to call, it is clear that House Democratic members and candidates are outperforming expectations across the country,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Fetterman heads to the Beltway to succeed Republican Pat Toomey with both a seat flip from red to blue, and a defeat of a high-profile candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
The lightning rod leader still considering a run for the presidency in 2024 was attached to another Senate defeat not far away; former Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc in New Hampshire to incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.
He was also tied to pivotal wins, like J.D. Vance in Ohio and Ted Budd in North Carolina.
Pennsylvania, however, was long a focal point and considered a bellwether. Many polls had evolved late to show Oz with a lead, except one poll from Marist last week.
In a tweet, Fetterman and his campaign wrote, “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 positioned himself as a strong supporter of President Joe Biden who stands up for forgotten Pennsylvanians. Oz portrayed himself as the embodiment of the American Dream and opportunity who wanted to unite Americans and push for change.