Fetterman in Philadelphia: ‘I support issues compatible with urban voters’

The Democratic U.S. Senate candidate made his remarks during a meeting with the Philadelphia Tribune’s editorial board

By: - October 22, 2022 6:30 am

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

By Stephen Williams

PHILADELPHIA — Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, said he wants voters to know his stroke in May hasn’t changed his support for issues that he believes most Philadelphians and state residents care about.

For example, Fetterman said he supports increasing the minimum wage, increased funding for public schools, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, common sense guns laws, abortion rights and the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in Congress. The state minimum wage is $7.25 and the PRO Act bill would increase the power of workers to organize and participate in collective bargaining for higher pay, better benefits and working conditions.

“I support the union way of life and I really want to pass the PRO Act,” said Fetterman, who made his comments in an editorial board meeting with The Philadelphia Tribune executives and staff via Google Meet.

Asked about his health and recovery, Fetterman, 53, was candid.

“I’m doing well. I certainly have challenges after having a stroke. I really try to be transparent about it,” Fetterman said. “Sometimes I miss a word and sometimes I have those moments, where I am not exactly equally expressive. But on balance, I believe that I get better and better every day. I’m not a 100%, but I am certainly dramatically better than I was when I had the stroke back in May.”

On Wednesday, Fetterman’s campaign released a medical report to the news media from his doctor, Clifford Chen, that states that the candidate “is recovering well from his stroke and his health has continued to improve” and said that he “has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”

The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate is Dr. Mehmet Oz, a retired surgeon who hosted “The Dr. Oz Show” on daytime television from 2009 to 2022.

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The Tribune endorsed Fetterman in the May 17 primary election.

Fetterman and Oz are running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican incumbent Pat Tomey, who is not seeking re-election, after serving in the Senate since 2011.

On Nov. 8, Pennsylvania residents will choose a senator and a governor and lieutenant governor and other elected officials. This race has national implications, as it may help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate after the midterm elections in November.

To be sure, state television and radio airwaves have been flooded by television commercials from both sides. OpenSecrets, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C., which tracks campaign spending, said it projects that more than $9.3 billion will be spent on the federal midterm elections this year, up from the $7.1 billion, spent on the 2018 midterm elections.

Political analysts have said the Pennsylvania race could top $160 million in total spending, which would be a record.

“We’re seeing much more money, more candidates and more political division,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of OpenSecrets, in a statement. “Spending is surging across the board this midterm cycle, fueling a polarization vortex that shows no sign of slowing.”

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For example, the Fetterman campaign has raised $47.9 million, with more than half or 53.4% from small donors, who contributed $200 or less, according to OpenSecrets. So far, the Fetterman campaign has spent $43.7 million and has $4.1 million on hand, the nonprofit reported.

By contrast, the Oz campaign raised $34.8 million, most, more than $21 million, or 60% of which came from the candidate’s own money, according to OpenSecrets. Ten percent of that money came from small donors, who contributed $200 or less. The Oz campaign has spent $32.3 million and has $2.5 million on hand.

Meanwhile, asked why Tribune readers should support him, Fetterman said that he supports more investment in urban areas, education and more contracts for community businesses.

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“Education is the great equalizer,” Fetterman said. “As a partner to Gov. Wolf, the expansion of education has been unprecedented, but the Republicans have cut the purse strings and not allowed a lot of that money to go into Philadelphia.”

And Fetterman promised to listen to local leaders to build a consensus on reducing gun violence, but also said he supports efforts by U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero to crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchases. On Oct. 13, Romero’s office announced the indictment of a Philadelphia man for illegally selling five semiautomatic rifles and drug trafficking.

“I would hope that they should vote for me because I have spent my entire career whether as a GED instructor or as a mayor or as lieutenant governor working on the issues that I believe are compatible, with people living in urban areas,” Fetterman said.

Before he became mayor of Braddock, a borough of about 2,000 near Pittsburgh, Fetterman said, it had a big problem with gun violence, but he said he worked with community members and law enforcement to fix the problem. Fetterman was mayor there from 2006 to 2019.

“I think I am the best choice, particularly when my opponent Oz stands with Donald Trump who believes that Philadelphia is some place that only bad things happen,” he said. “I think I would the most suitable senator to stand and champion these issues as opposed to Dr. Oz.”

Stephen Williams is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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