HARIZBURG, Pennsylvania ( Associated Press) – One candidate is openly open, ready to accept progressive positions, does little to build a relationship with party leaders and dominates rooms with a frame of 6 feet and 8 inches. The other creates a more moderate image, a deliberate public speaker who became an assistant in Congress after college and has since carefully nurtured relations within the party.
Both in style and content, John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro have dramatically different profiles.
However, their fate – and the fate of the Democratic Party – is intertwined in a couple of elections in Pennsylvania that will be among the most watched in the United States.
Fetterman offers Democrats their clearest path to taking a seat in the U.S. Senate, which could greatly help foreigners retain control of the council.
Meanwhile, Shapiro is raising even more existential questions as he faces a Republican rival for a governor who has accepted conspiracies over the last presidential election and who would have a significant impact on leading the next battlefields in the main state.
“The stakes have never been higher, the contrast has never been clearer,” Shapiro told members of the Democratic Party’s state committee at their meeting in Gettysburg on Saturday. “This Commonwealth has the power to decide whether we have the 51st senator. This Commonwealth has the power to decide whether to continue the great experiment that began in the city of Philadelphia 245 years ago.
With such high stakes, Feterman and Shapiro are working on a united front ahead of the fall elections.
They participate in a coordinated campaign funded and led by national and state party organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, the Association of Democratic Governors, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Together, these groups could send more money to Pennsylvania than anywhere else to register and persuade voters within what the state calls “the largest and earliest medium-term coordinated campaign in Pennsylvania’s history.”
Such assistance from national organizations may be much needed in a country with high instability.
After supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign, Pennsylvania switched to Joe Biden in 2020 – but only by about 1 percentage point. And Democrats preparing for the 2022 campaign are already facing huge challenges.
Fetterman suffered a stroke just days before he received his party’s nomination for the Senate last month and has not yet returned to the campaign, nor has he given many indications when he will do so. Both candidates will run in a tough environment for Democrats, burdened by Biden’s unpopularity and rising prices of everyday goods, food and petrol.
Assistants in both campaigns say coordination has already begun.
Feterman’s and Shapiro’s campaigns say they are in frequent contact, and Shapiro said he has been sending messages to Feterman since Feterman’s stroke.
Campaign aides say they expect the men to appear together at major events, such as rallies, the opening of regional election offices or party events to raise money, increase turnout or highlight candidates who have lost a ticket.
Earlier this month, Feterman’s wife, Giselle, replaced him at an event with Shapiro, where they discussed opening a coordinated campaign office in Pittsburgh.
“I’m looking forward to bringing John here, and I know he’s trying to get out, too,” Shapiro said on Friday. Fetterman’s campaign stated in a statement that we are “looking forward” to the campaign with Shapiro and helping other Democrats in the autumn elections.
For now, Feterman’s health hangs over the campaign amid questions about whether he was honest about the seriousness of his condition.
Fetterman’s neurologists and cardiologist did not answer questions from reporters, and the campaign lasted three weeks after the stroke to reveal that he also has serious heart disease.
Coordination of the Republican campaign is being conducted through the Republican National Committee, but the party’s best candidates – well-known cardiac surgeon Mehmet Oz and Senate candidate for governor Doug Mastriano – have so far not firmly committed to a joint campaign.
In a statement, the Oz campaign said he “supports the Republican candidacy in Pennsylvania because he believes we need to send a message to Joe Biden on inflation, gas prices and the problem of crime out of control” and “looks forward to seeing (Mastriano) on this track” years. ”
The campaigns did not say whether Oz and Mastriano met at all, except that they exchanged text messages after their primary victories. Mastrian’s campaign did not answer questions.
Party leaders and campaign strategists are watching Mastriana cautiously. He spread Trump’s lies about the widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential elections and was a leading advocate of Trump’s intention to annul the result in Pennsylvania. He was also in the crowd in front of the US Capitol during the attack of Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, after attending the “Stop the Steal” rally nearby.
If they campaign together, it can be embarrassing: Mastriano, a state senator, backed rival Oz in the election and criticized Oz in the election campaign, suggesting at one point that Oz was indeed a liberal and a carpet dealer – a sign of Oz moving out of his longtime home in New Jersey to run in Pennsylvania.
Plus, before Mastriano was elected to the state Senate in 2019, he posted Islamophobic material on Facebook several times.. Oz is a Muslim.
In a statement, the RNC said it had 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.
For now, Republicans are trying to portray Feterman and Shapiro as extreme, but they are also focusing on Feterman’s move in digital advertising, suggesting that he was not honest about the effects.
“Did John Fetterman tell the truth about his health?” Says the narrator in a digital advertisement for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Democrats insist they are not worried about Fetterman recovering from a stroke, and Colin Gini, the party’s president in Delaware County, said it would only be talked about as a distraction from important issues, such as Republicans’ attempts to destroy democracy. district and Senate dysfunctional through filibuster.
Fetterman avoided media interviews while party leaders – including Biden – are trying to reassure regular Democrats that Fetterman is well and will be able to continue the campaign soon.
“I know he can’t wait to get back on track,” Biden said during comments at last week’s AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia. “Good-looking.”
Fetterman and his wife gave a 90-second video address shown on Saturday at a meeting of the state party committee in Gettysburg. In it, Fetterman emphasized that the Shapiro-Fetterman map goes against the “extreme, bizarre and dangerous Oz-Mastriano map”.
“I’m so proud to be part of the map here,” Fetterman said. “We have Josh Shapiro to be our next governor this year as well. And just to let you know that we will be back very soon, to return to 100% to return to each of our 67 counties, because Josh and I have always been committed to a complete campaign for each of the 67 counties. ”
Shapiro and Fetterman have a political relationship that dates back to at least 2016, when Fetterman organized a fundraiser for Shapiro at his home in Braddock.
However, Shapiro and Fetterman had strained relations from time to time due to conflicting views on the state pardon committee – and a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer just days before the primary he underlined.
Citing unnamed people as the source, Inquirer reported that Feterman threatened to run for governor against Shapiro a few years ago – unless Shapiro votes for certain applicants before the pardon committee.
Shapiro did, but he denied that politics encouraged his votes or that any such conversation with Feterman ever took place, and a spokesman for the state prosecutor’s office called the claim “nothing but unheard of.” Fetterman was silent about it.
Democrats say that is not a topic for discussion among activists, and that they are more focused on what is at stake in the November 8 elections.
The election chooses between candidates “who work for an efficient government that will serve all our communities,” Gini said, and candidates who are in line with “people who are willing to sacrifice the fundamental fabric of our democracy for personal gain.”
Follow Mark Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/timelivriter
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