With the U.S. Senate primary barely in the rearview mirror, Democratic candidate John Fetterman, Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, and their allies are fielding ads attacking each other.
Fetterman’s campaign sent fundraising emails claiming Oz is still registered to vote in New Jersey.
“I was born + raised here, and now Gisele + I are raising our family here, right across the street from Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mill,” Fetterman says in that email.
A senior Oz campaign official said that Oz, a Huntingdon Valley resident, votes in Pennsylvania and is registered to vote here.
Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched an ad attacking Fetterman this week, spending $1.5 million to air it until June 16. The ominous-sounding ad paints Fetterman as a socialist who is endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
It shows “left-wing radicals rolling into Pennsylvania” with signs reading “government healthcare” and “end fracking” exiting a Fetterman van. The voiceover says Fetterman would cost residents “$50,000 per year.”
And, although Fetterman is recuperating from a stroke and not on the campaign trail at the moment, his campaign has its own ads up, one touting him as an outsider who gets things done titled “Braddock to Washington D.C.” and another that cites his outsider cred.
Oz is already a household name, so he needs little introduction to voters.
“Since being elected lieutenant governor, John Fetterman has spent a good deal of his time working to boost his name ID, through his legalization of marijuana tour and media appearances. It’s been clear since he was sworn in as lieutenant governor his goal was a higher office. The question is whether it was enough. The types of ads he is running lead me to believe his campaign doesn’t think so, which is why he is focused on defining himself at the current time,” said Charlie O’Neill, a Republican consultant.
Christopher Borick, professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, said, “Indeed, the general election campaigns are off and running. In a world where major campaigns are flush with financial resources, the rule is to get your ads up early and establish identities for both you and your opponent.
“Republicans clearly want Pennsylvania voters to see Fetterman more as a socialist and less as the Carhartt wearing advocate for the working class. They recognize that by doing so they may weaken Fetterman’s appeal among older, more moderate voters in places like the Philly suburbs, and negate some of his potential gains among White working-class voters where his brand has appeal.”
Borick added, “And while many Pennsylvanians know Fetterman through his unique physical image and presentation, the details of his story are not known to many voters in the commonwealth. Thus, his campaign wants to get that narrative built before Oz and Republicans can build an alternative for many voters that will be harder to undo.”