Then Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman addresses supporters in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, 11/8/22 (Capital-Star photo by Kim Lyons)
PITTSBURGH — Democrat John Fetterman declared victory shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, after media outlets projected him the winner in the race for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat.
“It’s official. I will be the next U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania,” Fetterman tweeted shortly before addressing the crowd at his victory party at Stage AE. “We bet on the people of Pennsylvania — and you didn’t let us down. And I won’t let you down. Thank you.”
Fetterman faced Republican Mehmet Oz in the nationally watched race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. NBC News declared Fetterman the winner shortly before 1 a.m. The Associated Press called the race at 1:51 a.m.
Unofficial tallies on the Department of State’s website showed Fetterman leading Oz 50-47 percent as of 1:38 a.m. State officials have warned it will take several days to count a flood of mail-in ballots.
“I am so humbled thank you so much,” Fetterman said. “It’s one-thirty in the morning and you’re still hanging in.
We launched this campaign almost two years ago and our slogan: ‘Every county, every vote,’ and that’s exactly what happened.”
At a party in suburban Bucks County, Oz spoke briefly just before midnight, expressing confidence that he would eventually be named the winner, according to NBC News. “When all the ballots are counted, we believe we will win this race,” he said. “We’ve been closing the gap all night, and we have a lot more ballots to go.”
“I have told you many many times that I believe in you,” Oz added, according to NBC News. “Traveled all over the Commonwealth to make that message clear. Tonight, you have told me that you believe in me. Bless you for that.”
*At 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the Republican called Fetterman to concede the race, Fetterman’s campaign said in a statement.
Breaking: Dr. Oz just called John Fetterman to concede the Pennsylvania Senate race, the Democrat’s spokesman tells me.
— Holly Otterbein (@hollyotterbein) November 9, 2022
Fetterman suffered a stroke in May, and polls leading up to election day showed the former Braddock mayor in a neck-and-neck race with Oz. The Democratic Party sent some of its biggest names to rally support for Fetterman in the race’s closing days. Former President Barack Obama visited Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on Saturday, with President Biden joining them in Philadelphia.
“This campaign was for everyone who got knocked down and got back up,” Fetterman said, repeating a line that became a fixture of the campaign’s closing weeks.
“This race is for the future of every community across Pennsylvania; for every small town or person that felt left behind; for every job that’s ever been lost; every factory ever closed; every person that works hard but never got ahead,” he continued. “I’m proud of what we ran on; protecting a woman’s right to choose, raising the minimum wage, and healthcare as a fundamental human right.”
During the campaign, Fetterman repeatedly slammed Oz as being out of touch with Pennsylvania voters, and for his New Jersey residency.
The only other politician to address the crowd of a few hundred people at Fetterman election night headquarters was Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who took the stage shortly after 9 p.m., and said he was feeling confident that Democrats would carry the night.
“We won’t stop until every vote is counted because we believe in the system,” Gainey said, making a not-so-subtle reference to Republicans’ unfounded claims of election fraud in 2020. “We know that the last election wasn’t rigged and we know this one will be just as safe and secure.”
Fetterman supporters started arriving shortly before 8 p.m. and cheered when a large screen TV tuned to CNN displayed very early results showing their candidate with a sizable lead over Oz.
The gathering at Fetterman HQ erupted in cheers when CNN called the governor’s race for Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who beat state Sen. Doug Mastriano. The Republican had come under criticism for his views on abortion and support of conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.
(*This story was updated at 1:50 a.m. on Wednesday, 11/9/22 to update on John Fetterman claiming victory. It was updated again at 10:27 a.m. to include Mehmet Oz’s concession.)
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