The Lead

Fetterman to host first public campaign event since suffering stroke

By: - August 5, 2022 11:06 am

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller)

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman — the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania — will return to the campaign trail next week in his first public appearance since suffering a stroke.

The campaign announced Friday morning that Fetterman, 52, will hold a rally in Erie, a key bellwether county in Pennsylvania, on Friday, Aug. 12. 

“Before the 2020 election, I said that if I could know one single fact about the results, I could tell you who was going to win Pennsylvania. Whoever wins Erie County will win Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said in a written statement. “Erie County is Pennsylvania’s most important bellwether county.”

For the most part, Fetterman has been sidelined since suffering a stroke and undergoing a procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator in May, fueling attacks from Mehmet Oz, his Republican opponent in the November election.

Last month, Fetterman made a surprise appearance at a campaign office training event and dropped in on volunteer Zoom calls, telling supporters he was “almost at 100 percent.” He also attended a private fundraising event in Philadelphia two weeks ago.

The race to fill the seat currently held by retiring GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, which could determine which party controls the upper chamber, is one of the most widely-watched and expensive races nationwide.

Despite being physically absent from public events and political fundraisers, Fetterman has made himself a presence in Pennsylvania with a series of television advertisements and social media posts. 

The former mayor of Braddock has taken to social media — including a Cameo from Jersey Shore reality television personality Nicole “Snooki” LaValle — to call out his opponent, who is a long-time New Jersey resident. The campaign also paid for a plane to fly over New Jersey beaches with a message that said: “HEY DR. OZ, WELCOME HOME TO NJ! ♥ JOHN.”

The celebrity heart surgeon, who has dismissed Fetterman’s posts as “snarky,” has fired back against his Democratic opponent with campaign videos posted to social media. Oz created a “tracker” on social media to tally the number of days Fetterman has not been on the campaign trail.

Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the primary, has faced carpetbagger accusations since launching his campaign. He registered to vote in Pennsylvania in 2020, using his in-laws’ Montgomery County address, where his campaign says he currently lives. However, social media posts and a campaign video still show Oz spending time at his mansion in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.

Shortly before Fetterman’s campaign announced the rally in Erie, Oz released a statement accusing him of hiding from voters and the press.

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Marley Parish
Marley Parish

A Pennsylvania native, Marley Parish covers the Senate for the Capital-Star. She previously reported on government, education and community issues for the Centre Daily Times and has a background in writing, editing and design. A graduate of Allegheny College, Marley served as editor of the campus newspaper, where she also covered everything from student government to college sports.

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