The Pennsylvania Democrats are aiming for a united front

The Pennsylvania Democrats are aiming for a united front

HARISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A candidate is unquestionably raw, willing to embrace progressive positions, does little to build relationships with party leaders, and dominates rooms with a 6-foot, 8-inch frame. The other creates a more moderate image, a deliberate public speaker who became an aide to Congress from college and has since carefully cultivated relations within the party.

Both in style and in substance, John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro have dramatically different profiles.

However, their fate – and that of the Democratic Party – is intertwined in a couple of Pennsylvania elections that will be among the most careful in the US

Feterman offers the Democrats the clearest way to get a seat in the US Senate, which could greatly help the party maintain control of the House.

Shapiro, meanwhile, raises even bigger existential questions as he faces a Republican opponent for governor who has embraced conspiracies for the last presidential election and would have a significant influence on the conduct of the next top battlefield.

“The stakes have never been higher, the opposition has never been clearer,” Shapiro told members of the Democratic Party’s meeting in Gothenburg on Saturday. “This commonwealth has the power to decide whether we have the 51st senator. “This commonwealth has the power to decide whether the great experiment that began in Philadelphia 245 years ago is continuing.”

With the stakes so high, Fetterman and Shapiro are working for a united front in the run-up to the autumn elections.

They are involved in a coordinated campaign funded and led by national and state party organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, the Union of Democratic Governors, and the Democratic Senate Committee.

Together, these groups could send more money to Pennsylvania than anywhere else to register and persuade voters as part of what the state party calls “the largest and earliest interim coordinated campaign in Pennsylvania history.”

Such help from national agencies can be very necessary in a situation of great fluctuation.

After backing Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign, Pennsylvania turned to Joe Biden in 2020 – but only by about 1 percentage point. And Democrats preparing for the 2022 campaign are already facing huge challenges.

Feterman suffered a stroke a few days before he won his party’s candidacy for the Senate last month and has not yet returned to the campaign, nor has he given much indication of when he will do so. Both candidates will run in a difficult environment for Democrats, burdened by Biden’s unpopularity and rising prices for everyday items, food and gasoline.

Auxiliaries to both campaigns say coordination has already begun.

Fetterman and Shapiro’s campaigns say they have been in frequent contact, and Shapiro said he has been texting Fetterman since Fetterman’s stroke.

Campaign aides say they expect the men to appear together at larger events, such as rallies, regional campaign office openings or party events to raise money, help increase turnout or identify candidates.

Earlier this month, Fetterman’s wife, Giselle, backed him at an event with Shapiro, where they spoke at the opening of a coordinated campaign office in Pittsburgh.

“I’m looking forward to getting John out of here and I know he’s working hard to leave, too,” Shapiro said Friday. Fetterman’s campaign said in a statement that it was “looking forward” to campaigning with Shapiro and helping other Democrats in the autumn vote.

At the moment, Feterman’s health is hanging on to the campaign amid questions about whether she was honest about the seriousness of his condition.

Fetterman’s neurologists and cardiologist have not received any questions from reporters, and the campaign lasted three weeks after the stroke to reveal that he also had severe heart disease.

The Republican campaign is being co-ordinated through the Republican National Committee, but the party’s top candidates – the famous Sen. candidate for the Senate Mehmet Oz and Gov. Doug Mastriano – have not been elected yet.

In a statement, Oz’s campaign said he “supports the Republican ticket to Pennsylvania because he believes we need to send a message to Joe Biden about inflation, gas prices and the problem of crime out of control” and “looks forward to it.” to see (Mastriano) on the trail this summer. “

The campaigns have not said whether Oz and Mastriano have even met, except for texting after their respective first-round wins. Mastriano’s campaign did not answer any questions.

Mastriano is being wary of party leaders and campaign generals. He has spread Trump’s lies about widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election and has been a leading supporter in Pennsylvania of Trump’s attempt to reverse the result. He was also in the crowd outside the US Capitol during the January 6, 2021 attack by Trump supporters following his presence at the “Stop the Steal” rally nearby.

Campaigning together can be embarrassing: Mastriano, a state senator, backed an opponent of Oz in the primary and criticized Oz in the campaign, suggesting at one point that Oz is truly liberal and a rug – a nod in Oz moves from his perennial home in New Jersey to run in Pennsylvania.

In addition, before Mastriano was elected to the Senate in 2019, he repeatedly posted Islamophobic material on Facebook. Oz is a Muslim.

In a statement, the RNC said it has been “on the ground” in Pennsylvania since 2016, training and mobilizing activists, registering voters, opening offices and working with the state party and its candidates.

At the moment, Republicans are trying to portray Feterman and Sapiro as extremists, but also by beating Feterman in a digital ad, suggesting he was not being honest about his effects.

“Did John Feterman tell the truth about his health?” says one narrator in the digital ad of the National Republican Senate.

Democrats say they are not worried about Fetterman recovering from the stroke, and Colleen Guiney, the Delaware County party president, said it would be discussed only as a distraction from important issues, such as Republican efforts to destroy democracy. of the county and the Senate dysfunctional through the filibuster.

Federman has avoided media interviews as party leaders – including Biden – are trying to reassure Democrats that Federman is well and will be able to resume campaigning soon.

“I know he’s looking forward to getting back on track,” Biden said during remarks during last week’s AFL-CIO conference in Philadelphia. “It looks good.”

Feterman and his wife gave a 90-second video speech that was played Saturday at a meeting of the state party committee in Gothenburg. In it, Fetterman highlighted the Shapiro-Fetterman ticket to deal with “the extreme, strange and dangerous Oz-Mastriano ticket.”

“I’m so proud to be a part of the ticket here,” Fetterman said. “And this year we have Josh Shapiro as our next governor. And let me just let you know that we will be back very soon, to return up to 100% to return to each of our 67 counties, because Josh and I have always been committed to a full campaign in 67 counties. “

Shapiro and Fetterman have had a political relationship dating back at least 2016, when Fetterman hosted a fundraiser for Shapiro at his Braddock home.

However, Shapiro and Fetterman have at times had a strained relationship over conflicting positions on the state council – and a report a few days before the by-elections from The Philadelphia Inquirer underscored this.

Citing anonymous sources, the Inquirer said Feterman had threatened to run for governor against Sapiro a few years ago – unless Sapiro voted for some petitioners before the pardon council.

Shapiro did, but has denied that politics led to his vote or that any such conversation ever took place with Fetterman, and a spokesman for the attorney general’s office called the allegations “nothing outrageous.” Feterman remained silent about it.

Democrats say it is not a matter for debate among activists and are rather focused on what exists in the Nov. 8 election.

This election is about choosing between candidates “who work for an effective government that will serve all of our communities,” Guiney said, and candidates who align with “people willing to sacrifice the fundamental fabric of our democracy for their staff.” avail”.

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Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at twitter.com/timelywriter

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Follow the AP for full coverage of the interim appointments at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics

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