Lt. Gov. and Democratic Senatorial nominee John Fetterman addressed more than 500 supporters Tuesday night in the lobby of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus.
“In our primary we got more votes than (Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet) Oz did in his primary, in this red county,” Fetterman told the gathering.
It was Fetterman 3,844, Oz 3,537, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
However, state officials said on the department’s website, Fetterman drew 3,844 votes to 1,955 for U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and 249 votes for two other candidates on Indiana County’s Democratic ballot, while Oz drew 3,537 votes in the Republican primary, coming in second behind statewide runner-up David McCormick (3,978), with Kathy Barnette in third place with 2,539 and 1,110 votes split up among four other candidates.
Registration-wise, according to figures through Sept. 12, 26,873 are registered as Republicans in Indiana County, 15,873 as Democrats, 4,221 who have no party affiliation, 1,920 who are registered in other parties.
“As you know, I had a stroke,” Fetterman said. “Dr. Oz tells me that every day.”
Fetterman said he might miss a word or mush two words together, but, “How many of you have had a personal health crisis in your life?”
He added, “I certainly hope you do not have a doctor in your life, laughing at you?”
He repeated some other things he has said on the campaign trail — that he would be the 51st vote for the Democrats in a Senate now split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris needing to break ties; that the filibuster (requiring 60 votes for cloture) should be eliminated, and that he would “get things done” in Washington.
Fetterman also said that Oz may be a joke, but not a funny one because of his stance that abortion is murder; that Oz is a carpetbagger who does not really live in Pennsylvania (though Oz has said he married his wife 36 years ago in the same house they live in now in Montgomery County, across the Delaware River from a longtime residency in New Jersey).
Also, “how does a man who owns 10 mansions thinks $7.25 is just fine (as a minimum wage)?” Fetterman said. “Send Oz back to New Jersey, send me to D.C. for you.”
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee called Fetterman a “failed politician” like President Biden.
Sean Shute said they are “driving historic inflation, threatening to demolish energy jobs, and crushing opportunity for families and workers across the Keystone State.”
Others also speaking at the KCAC countered those arguments.
“It is we who are grateful that John shows up for us,” Indiana County Commissioner Sherene Hess said. “John is not going to let us down. We know John is going to fight for us.”
Similar comments were made by Rachel Sternfeld, president of the Indiana-Armstrong Central Labor Council; IUP College Democrats President Sam Bigham; Indiana County Democratic Committee Vice Chair Lynne Alvine, and committee Chair Jamie Smith, who recalled growing up across the Monongahela River from Braddock while Fetterman was there as mayor.
He also issued a shout-out for another Democratic candidate in the room, Brian Doyle, who is challenging state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, in the 62nd Legislative District.
Should Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro win in November, Smith said, “he is going to need help in the General Assembly,” which now is Republican-controlled.
Sternfeld challenged those who said Fetterman never had a real job, calling his work as an AmeriCorps volunteer “a real job.”
Fetterman’s wife, Gisele, also addressed the KCAC gathering. She recalled going to Braddock to see what Fetterman was doing as an AmeriCorps volunteer and later as mayor.
“I fell in love with the town, as he fell in love with me,” Pennsylvania’s second lady told the audience.
Two groups gathered outside the KCAC to argue for Oz. One was a group of Indiana County residents, while the other was a group of men dressed in prison-style orange jumpsuits, calling themselves “Inmates for Fetterman.”
Shute also produced background pointing to Fetterman’s opposition to fracking, something the GOP said would destroy the Pennsylvania energy industry.