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Fetterman’s Heart Issues Add Wild Card to Key Pennsylvania Senate Race


In a fight between a Paul Bunyan-like common man and a celeb doctor, the doctor might emerge because the responsible candidate. And Dr. Oz will know tips on how to sell it, said Samantha Majic, a political scientist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who studies style and celebrity in politics.

“Celebrity in the fashionable sense is anyone who is thought, highly produced, managed and within the media, but also they are commercialized, they’re using their celebrity to sell,” Professor Majic said. She added: “As campaigns turn into dearer, you’ve got to have celebrity capital to parlay into financial capital. You might have to face out.”

Amongst Democrats and plenty of independents in Pennsylvania, Mr. Fetterman is popular. A poll from Franklin & Marshall College just before the first — and before his stroke — found that 67 percent of Democratic voters viewed him favorably, well above the 46 percent who felt warmly toward his primary opponent, Representative Conor Lamb.

Berwood A. Yost, the director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall, said that given the Democratic nominee’s 52 years of age, his health problems “may make Fetterman much more relatable.”You get to your 50s as a working-class person, and also you’ve got some scars to point out for it, right?” he said. “It’s an additional contrast between the 2 candidates. I mean, the contrast couldn’t be any more stark.”

And a comeback from a health setback shouldn’t be unusual. Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent whose progressive politics are just like Mr. Fetterman’s, suffered a heart attack in late 2019, with the presidential primary season looming, and hardly skipped a beat.

But Mr. Fetterman will remain off the campaign trail for a while.

“Doctors have told me I want to proceed to rest, eat healthy, exercise and deal with my recovery, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” he said in his statement. He added: “It’s frustrating — all of the more so because that is my very own fault — but bear with me, I want a bit more time. I’m not quite back to one hundred pc yet, but I’m getting closer daily.”

Rebecca Katz, a strategist for Mr. Fetterman, strongly denied that the campaign had been keeping his condition hidden. Campaign officials announced he needed a pacemaker as soon as they learned it, and the campaign released Friday’s statement as soon because the doctor gave his permission, she said. Democratic officials had grown so apprehensive that there was chatter about recruiting a latest nominee, gossip that she pushed back on hard.

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