The playing field in the Senate has narrowed in recent weeks, with both parties focusing their attention on Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania in the three races that will determine the majority in January 2023.
Choosing which one is the most critical among these three is a tough task. But for my money, it’s in Pennsylvania, where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz are vying for the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey.
Why do I see Pennsylvania first among equals? Some reasons:
1) Pennsylvania could be the biggest battleground in the 2024 presidential race, especially if Joe Biden and Donald Trump run again.
2) Oz is a candidate outside of Trumpworld’s central casting. A longtime TV doctor and celebrity, he won the primary thanks to an endorsement from the former president. The question now is whether Oz’s style of conservatism can sell in the general election.
3) Fetterman is an unapologetic liberal. Instead of covering up these positions or hiding them in the general election, he has bowed to them. That’s what liberals have long argued can be successful, even in a swing state like Pennsylvania. Fetterman’s candidacy is a test case of that theory.
4) Both national parties are heavily invested in this race – testing their messages for the inevitable fight in 2024.
What’s clear about the race is that Fetterman led mid-to-high numbers for much of the spring and summer, beat him in a primary that Oz won, and battled with unified Republicans even after becoming the nominee.
But lately — thanks to Fetterman’s criminal record and questions about his health after a stroke in the spring — Oz has backed off.
The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, a nonpartisan campaign tip sheet, changed its rating of the race to “Lean Democratic” about six weeks ago. But on Tuesday, the rating went “up”.
Senate editor Jessica Taylor explained:
“In conversations with various GOP strategists and lawmakers — who began putting the Keystone State in the loss column a month and a half ago — it has once again emerged as a winnable margin of error race. Republicans and Democrats alike agree the race has tightened and the tipping point for Pennsylvania’s Senate majority that it can”.
So, with five weeks left in this campaign, we have a tie (or something close to it) in critical condition between the two candidates who represent what the future of the country should look like.
I think that’s pretty important.
point: The battle for control of the Senate is now very likely to come down to a handful of races that are in the thick of things right now. And none is more important than Pennsylvania.