Cook Report Signals Trouble for Oz, Though Fetterman’s Had a Rough Return to the Campaign Trail

The Cook Political Report this week changed its description of the Pennsylvania Senate race from “tossup” to “lean Democrat,” signaling trouble for Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, even as Democrat John Fetterman struggles with his return to the campaign trail. 

Cook’s shifting outlook on the Senate contest is partly a response to figures on the FiveThirtyEight data-analysis website showing that Oz, a celebrity doctor, trails Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, by an average of 11.5 percentage points. 

“…In a state so closely divided, neither party expects that will be the final margin, and we don’t either,” Cook analyst Jessica Taylor explained regarding the shift. “But Fetterman — even as he’s also spent months off the trail recovering [from a stroke he suffered this spring] — has cemented a consistent enough lead, in both private and public polling, that we feel it justifies a new distinction that shows the lieutenant governor with the advantage.”

Taylor attributed Oz’s present difficulties to his residential background, as the longtime New Jerseyan only recently moved to Pennsylvania. Yet Fetterman’s recent return to campaigning has not gone smoothly; the Harvard-educated former Braddock mayor is not speaking with the cogency residents are used to hearing from him.

“[Oz] has 10 mansions,” Fetterman said at a rally in Erie last week. “I gave away the lieutenant governor governor [sic] in Pennsylvania — the only lieutenant governor in the history to do that.” 

Fetterman was referring to his decision against moving into the State House when he was elected four years ago. The Lebanon County residence was theretofore the lieutenant governor’s official home. His assertion about Oz’s residences is meanwhile a matter of dispute; the heart surgeon, whose current primary residence is in Montgomery County, owns 10 properties but states that only two of those are houses. 

Later in his Erie remarks, the Democrat awkwardly recited several of his leftist policy priorities. 

“You’re never going to find out: It’s like, what, John?” he began. “You don’t believe in $7 in fighting for the minimum wage? You don’t believe that Roe v. Wade isn’t sacred? You’re not gonna — I’m not gonna — fight for the union way of life? That’s what this campaign is about as well too.” 

Democrats control the U.S. Senate insofar as 50 members of the chamber caucus with their party and the other 50 belong to the GOP. The Republicans have a chance to retake the majority they lost last year when the Democrats won two special elections in Georgia. With Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) retiring at the end of this year, the race to succeed him is important if not crucial to GOP hopes to run the chamber again starting next year. 

Should Republicans lose in Pennsylvania, they will need to pick up at least two Democrat-held seats elsewhere. Democratic senators who Cook consider vulnerable include Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA). 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mehmet Oz” by Mehmet Oz. 



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