Ariana Capptauber door-knocked for now-President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 general election, but this weekend was her first time going door-to-door for Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Fetterman.
Capptauber, excited and nervous for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election, was one of more than 100 volunteers who turned out to canvass Harrisburg-area neighborhoods for Fetterman on Sunday.
“A lot is at stake. A lot could change,” Capptauber, a Harrisburg resident, told the Capital-Star after a kick-off event at the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Conference Hall in Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania’s widely watched and expensive U.S. Senate race between Republican Mehmet Oz and Fetterman could determine which political party controls the upper chamber in Washington next year. With eight days until Election Day and high-stakes issues on the ballot, Democrats — including Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — are working to push their nominees toward victory.
“We know what the work is. We know what we have to do,” AFSCME Director of District Council 90 Darrin Spann said. “We go out every night. We knock on doors. We talk to people, and we want to get John elected.”
On Saturday, the Fetterman campaign hosted a canvassing effort in Philadelphia, with federal and state Democrats showing up to stump for the Democratic nominee.
In his remarks on Sunday, Fetterman promised to raise the federal minimum wage, expand health care, codify Roe v. Wade into law, protect same-sex marriage, and cut taxes for working families if elected to the U.S. Senate.
He also addressed what he previously described as the “elephant in the room” during last week’s first and only U.S. Senate debate — the stroke he suffered in May, which prompted questions from Oz over whether he’s fit to serve in public office.
Fetterman, who still struggles with auditory processing from the stroke, said his campaign is about fighting for those who “got knocked down.”
“Dr. Oz has not forgotten every day that I had a stroke. But in January, I’ll be much better. But he will still be a fraud,” Fetterman said to a cheering crowd.
After the stroke, Fetterman underwent a procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator and announced a previously undisclosed heart condition. He was largely sidelined from the campaign trail until August but has increased in-person events and speeches in recent weeks.
The Democratic nominee has declined to commit to releasing in-depth medical records, citing a recently released letter from his doctor saying he can “work full duty in public office.”
Tracy Brown, of Dauphin County, said Fetterman’s health issues resonated with her as a voter, saying that as someone who has chronic health issues, she has often felt dismissed and belittled in the past.
“I related to him having his struggles,” she said. “But he’s knocked down, and he’s getting back out.”
Though much discussion after the debate focused on Fetterman, whose speech challenges were evident during the one-hour forum, Democrats have focused their attacks on Oz’s policies, residency, and professional history. Fetterman has also criticized Oz for spending millions of his own money on his campaign and accused him of trying to “buy” the seat.
They’ve also highlighted Oz’s stance on abortion, especially his answer to a question about a proposed federal 15-week abortion ban. Oz said power should rest with women, physicians, and local politicians.
“I want women, doctors, local political leaders, letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive, to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves,” Oz said.
Meanwhile, Oz has attacked Fetterman for his policies on crime, accusing him of wanting to release as many people with criminal convictions from prison as possible.
State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, described Fetterman, who chairs the state Board of Pardons, as someone who believes in second chances and exhibits empathy.
“There’s no perfect candidate, but there’s always a better person for the job,” Kim said. “The better person, in this case, the better man, for the job is John Fetterman.”
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