Democrats are likely finding that the decision by the John Fetterman campaign to agree to a debate with Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in the race for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania was a mistake. A week out from that disastrous first and only debate appearance, Fetterman is still struggling to explain where he stands on fracking, an issue of vital importance to Pennsylvanians.
Even CNN’s Don Lemon pressed Fetterman on the subject. The Democratic lieutenant governor said he is now “very supportive” of fracking because the state now has some of America’s “strongest environmental regulations.”
Lemon challenged Fetterman, pointing out that he clearly disavowed any support of fracking in 2018, well after the state’s new environmental regulations went into effect in 2016.
Fetterman responded to Lemon by claiming that he was “actually very supportive of fracking directly across the street from where I live” in 2017.
In 2018, Fetterman said in a video interview on YouTube: “I don’t support fracking, at all, and I never have.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that the debate was “hard to watch.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was overheard on an open microphone last Thursday telling Joe Biden he hoped that the horrible debate performance “didn’t hurt us too much.”
Polling conducted since the October 25 debate shows Oz has surged ahead in the closing days of the race. A poll published by Wick Insights last week indicated Oz was leading Fetterman in the immediate aftermath of the debate among likely Pennsylvania voters, 47.6% to 45.9%.
The poll also indicated that recently undecided voters were breaking heavily in favor of Oz, 64.4% to 35.6%.
JUST IN: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorses Dr. Oz for Senate: "We believe Mr. Oz is the better bet for Pennsylvania. . . . Mr. Fetterman, despite his hoodies and shorts, has little experience in holding real jobs or facing the problems of working people."
— Election Wizard 🇺🇸 (@ElectionWiz) November 1, 2022
Oz also scored an unusual endorsement on Monday, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave him its approval over Fetterman. Any newspaper endorsement of a GOP candidate is newsworthy, and the Post-Gazette’s readership is based largely in Fetterman’s home county.
The paper’s editorial board questioned Fetterman’s medical condition and ability to serve if elected. It said that his “lack of transparency” about the major stroke he suffered six months ago “suggests an impulse to conceal and a mistrust of the people.”
The latest polling average published by RealClearPolitics (RCP) still shows Fetterman with a 1.2 percentage point lead, 47.4% to 46.2%. However, RCP projects Oz will win next week’s election by 2.6 percentage points, as polls in the state have undercounted GOP support by an average of 3.8 points over the last three election cycles.
RCP now projects that Republicans will hold the majority in the Senate after Election Day, 54 seats to 46 for Democrats.