Biden Backs Pa. Senate Hopeful After Stroke, Pacemaker Procedure and Primary Win: 'Strong Candidate'

“I’m just a dude that shows up and just talks about what I believe in, you know?” Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who won the Democratic primary Tuesday, has said of his Senate campaign

John Fetterman, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and Democratic senate candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Fetterman, the only candidate who has run statewide, leads the Democratic field with 33% in an Emerson College poll last month.
John Fetterman. Photo: Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty

After suffering a stroke on Friday, Pennsylvania's Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and candidate for U.S. Senate underwent a related procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator, his campaign announced Tuesday, the very day voters headed to the polls in the state's Democratic primary.

Fetterman, 52, won his race, paving the way for him to run against the Republican candidate in November — though that contest is still too close to call.

"Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November," President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday once it was clear that Fetterman had defeated his closest rival, Rep. Conor Lamb, with 59 percent of the vote.

"And while we await the results of the GOP primary, one thing is clear – these candidates are not your father's GOP," Biden continued in his statement, referring to leading Republicans Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dave McCormick and Kathy Barnette. "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."

Oz, who has former President Donald Trump's endorsement, leads businessman McCormick by about 2,400 votes or .2 percentage points, with the race still too close to call.

The eventual winner will be up against Fetterman — a 6-foot-8-inch former mayor whose arm tattoos are often visible below pushed-up sleeves of his hoodie, which he often pairs with basketball shorts at campaign stops — to fill the seat left open by outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who isn't seeking re-election.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman campaigns for U.S. Senate at a meet and greet at Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport on May 10, 2022 in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania. Fetterman is the Democratic primary front runner in a field that includes U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Sen. Malcolm Kenyatta in the May 17 primary vying to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty

"I'm just a dude that shows up and just talks about what I believe in, you know?" Fetterman said in an interview last week with The New York Times, vowing to "get good Democratic stuff done" if elected to the Senate.

Issues like raising the minimum wage, criminal justice reform, abortion access, voting rights, and protections for LGBTQ+ people are all issues Fetterman, who has a degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, has reportedly campaigned on, often in rural counties filled with working-class voters who supported Trump.

"He may not look like a Senate candidate for New York or California, but he's just fine for Pennsylvania," Ed Rendell, a Democratic former governor, told the Times of the nominee. "He's a very believable candidate for the working class."

"Some folks, you know, will be like, 'The Democrats! The culture wars! What are you going to do?' I'm like, 'Bring it on!'" Fetterman told the Times. "If you get your jollies or you get your voters excited by bullying gay and trans kids, you know, it's time for a new line of work."

Fetterman faced criticism for confronting a Black man he believed was involved in a gunfire incident near his home in Braddock, Penn., in 2013, according to The Washington Post.

Now he's considered one of Democrats' best chances at picking up a seat in the Senate that's currently split 50-50.

"John Fetterman understands that working class families in Pennsylvania and across the country have been dealt out for far too long," Biden said in his statement Tuesday. "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."

Related Articles