Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced Friday that he’ll make his first public appearance on the campaign trail next week since suffering a near-fatal stroke days before the spring primary election.
The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate will host a rally in Erie on Friday. He made a handful of appearances at private fundraisers in late July but otherwise maintained an online presence in his efforts to defeat Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Fetterman’s campaign statement described Erie County as one of Pennsylvania’s “biggest bellwether counties,” noting how former President Donald Trump narrowly won it in 2016 and how President Joe Biden flipped it back, again narrowly, in 2020.
“Before the 2020 election, I said that if I could know one single fact about the results, I could tell you who was going to win Pennsylvania. Whoever wins Erie County will win Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said in the campaign statement.
Election records for Erie County show Fetterman received 23,248 votes in the primary where he overwhelming led the field of four Democrats. Oz garnered 7,545 votes, finishing second among Republicans.
Fetterman suffered a stroke on May 13. His cardiologist later stated through the campaign that atrial fibrillation, for which Fetterman was diagnosed in 2017, caused the stroke. However, the doctor diagnosed Fetterman with cardiomyopathy, necessitating the implant of a pacemaker days after the stroke.
The doctor said he’d recover through good diet, exercise and a regimen of medication, and that he’d be well enough to campaign and, if elected, serve as a U.S. senator. However, Oz and his Republican backers have called that into question given Fetterman’s extended absence from in-person appearances.
The two are campaigning to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. The Senate’s current makeup positions the commonwealth’s election among the most-watched in 2022. The outcome could tip the balance in either party’s favor for a voting majority in the upper house.
Fetterman spoke with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in July for his first post-stroke media interview, telling the outlet that he felt “really good” and had “nothing to hide” regarding his health.
Aside from the campaign appearance, the Fetterman campaign made a separate announcement on Friday: it had surpassed 1 million individual donor contributions. He raised more than $10 million in the second quarter compared to $3.8 million for Oz, more than half of which the Republican loaned to his own campaign.