Reviews | John Fetterman leads a brilliant campaign

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Lt. Governor John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for US Senate in Pennsylvania, is running a stellar campaign in the race to replace the retired Republican Senator Patrick J. Toomey. Fetterman grabbed a center point principle of electoral politics: voters choose candidates with whom they identify.

Fetterman gets a chance to run against TV snake oil salesman Mehmet Oz, infamous for peddling quack medical remedies. Oz is also a multi-millionaire who lives in New Jersey and bought a house in Pennsylvania less than a year ago. And Fetterman hassled him non-stop for being fake, disconnected, and lacking street cred in Pennsylvania.

His latest anti-Oz barrage concerns vegetables. Oz filmed a disastrous video in which he bought “crudités” in a grocery store. Fetterman’s response:

The Democrat raised $500,000 from this round of teasing.

Oz was also caught saying that, despite reports that he owns 10 houses, he “legitimately” (?!) has only two properties. Fetterman replied:

Fetterman has used MTV’s “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi to paint Oz as a New Jersey porter. He also supported Oz’s induction in the New Jersey Hall of fame.

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All that sent Oz’s negative ratings soaring, its fundraising slumping, and Republican angst skyrocketing. The Republican National Senate Committee recently reduced ad spend in Pennsylvania by a stunning $7.5 million.

Fetterman opened up a significant lead, 11.5 percent in FiveThirtyEight poll average, in a state that the Republicans had not unreasonably believed they could hold. Cook Political Report changed the race from “Toss-Up” to “Lean Democratic”. Jessica Taylor of Cook Political Report writes: “Plates of fancy French appetizers aside, a mere glance at Oz versus the tattooed Fetterman in a hoodie and shorts, and it’s no surprise to discern who comes across as more authentic and closer to voters.” It didn’t help that Oz “spends much of late June to early July vacationing in Ireland, and post-primary frequent trips to Palm Beach.”

Thanks to his clever and opportunistic assault on Oz, Fetterman came across as the more energetic, engaged, and certainly good-natured of the two, despite the stroke he suffered. just before primary.

Fetterman’s campaign holds some lessons for Democrats. First, find a relatable candidate, not necessarily with poll-tested positions or known for what passes for eloquence in political circles. Then let it run like a real article. Second, humor is one of the most effective techniques. What Oz is supposed to say – “Stop laughing at me!” ? There is no real rebuttal to well-aimed mockery.

And finally, recognize that Republican “populism” is a facade. Whether it’s the multi-millionaire Oz or the Yale Law School graduate and millionaire JD Vance in Ohio or one of the Ivy League-educated Republican senators, the idea that GOP MAGA pimps represent the average American is far-fetched. (Their policies, including taxation poor people, protect businesses pay at least something in taxes, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and end Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are certainly not “populist” in any sense.)

Fetterman is a walking, talking, tray-of-veggie-buying rebuttal to the argument that Democrats need to change their policies to appeal to unqualified voters. Fetterman’s center-left policies (e.g., pro-choice, insulin peak at $35, support the Inflation Reduction Act) are popular. It was his cultural personality and his personal connections that made the difference in the race.

For his successful campaign strategy, portraying Oz as a fake out-of-stater and showing Democrats what a true populist looks like, we can say, “Bravo, Mr. Fetterman.

About Michael S. Montanez

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