White House hopes Fetterman’s primary win throws Biden legislative lifeline
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s (D-PA) decisive win in Tuesday night’s Senate primary is reinvigorating Democrats’ hopes of holding on to a congressional majority in November, keeping President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda alive in the process.
Despite suffering a stroke Friday and undergoing an emergency pacemaker operation Tuesday, Fetterman cruised to victory in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, winning nearly 60% of the vote. Though he is significantly more liberal than Biden on issues such as marijuana legalization and sentencing reform, some Democrats chalk his massive success up to embracing the president’s agenda openly.
Unlike his opponent, sitting Rep. Conor Lamb, and a handful of other vulnerable Democrats seeking reelection in 2022, Fetterman made multiple appearances with Biden in the lead-up to Tuesday’s primary, both in Pennsylvania and in Washington, D.C., even without receiving an endorsement from the president until after winning his primary.
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Ammar Mousa, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, expects Fetterman’s strategy to play out even stronger against a Republican in the general.
“While Democrats are running on the Biden administration’s accomplishments and an agenda to lower costs and build on our historic economic recovery and job creation, Republicans are running on an ultra-MAGA agenda that parrots Donald Trump’s ‘big lie,’ threatens our freedoms, and could end the Social Security and Medicare guarantees,” he told the Washington Examiner. “The contrast could not be more clear, and this is the message voters will be hearing every day between now and Election Day.”
Mousa’s statement echoes rhetoric from the White House in recent days, seeking to contrast Democrats with their “ultra-MAGA” opponents.
“John Fetterman understands that working class families in Pennsylvania and across the country have been dealt out for far too long. It’s time to deal them back in, and electing John to the United States Senate would be a big step forward for Pennsylvania’s working people. Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November,” Biden said in a Tuesday night statement celebrating the win. “While we await the results of the GOP primary, one thing is clear — these candidates are not your father’s GOP. They have fought a malicious, chaotic primary campaign to be the most extreme, and they have shown people their authentic selves — that whoever emerges will be too dangerous, too craven, and too extreme to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Senate.”
A Biden adviser told the Washington Examiner that “obviously” Fetterman’s win is important to advancing the president’s proposals and specifically pointed to a speech in which Fetterman promised to “vote like the Democrat needs to help deliver Biden’s BBB agenda.”
The seat is currently held by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, so a Fetterman win would be a Democratic pickup in the deadlocked Senate.
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Democrats believe Fetterman’s brand of blue-collar populism could be particularly effective against whoever emerges from the Republican primary.
As of press time, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who carries an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, is leading David McCormick by less than 2,000 votes, and the pair are likely headed for a recount.
Tuesday night’s results show that Trump’s endorsement of Oz splintered his base. A number of top Trump administration officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior adviser Hope Hicks, supported McCormick and savaged Oz’s MAGA credentials in the days and weeks leading up to the primary.
Biden himself has predicted that Democrats will not only hold on to their current razor-thin Senate majority but will actually expand it by two seats.
Multiple senior Democratic officials previously signaled to the Washington Examiner that Pennsylvania and Ohio are the most likely pickups, but they are also optimistic about Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is not issuing any primary endorsements. A DSCC spokesperson added that the committee’s primary goal heading into the midterm elections is “working to defend our battleground incumbents” in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, but beyond that, the DSCC will take “advantage of every opportunity” Republicans give it.
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“The president remains really focused on delivering for the American people, and what you see from congressional Republicans, and what you see from the GOP, is the plan for American people is to raise taxes on the middle class, to sunset Social Security and Medicare and to take away a woman’s right to reproductive healthcare — he’s going to speak against that,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre added during Wednesday’s press briefing about that mindset. “This is something that is incredibly important to make sure that the American people — and what he’s doing for the American people is to make sure that it happens, right, but what the other side is trying to do is trying to stop us from trying to lower costs for folks.”