The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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A Contentious Senate Race in PA

John Fetterman photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

PENNSYLVANIA- In a few weeks, citizens around the nation will be heading to the polls in what is expected to be a close midterm election. This is especially true in Pennsylvania, where voters will be choosing who will replace the seat of outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

The state is considered by most to be a bellwether, meaning that whoever wins the seat is likely to do so by a very small margin. The senate is currently split at 50 senators evenly from both parties, but is in de jure controlled by Democrats because Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, holds the tie breaking vote.

If Democrats manage to flip Sen. Toomey’s seat, they are likely to retain, or even expand their presence in the Senate. But if Republicans hold on to it, they would likely gain control of the Senate.

Who are the candidates?

Republicans are eyeing to retain the seat by electing Dr. Mehmet Oz. He was known for his talk show, The Dr. Oz Show, where he talked about medical issues and promoted pseudoscience treatments. Oz was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but grew up in both Wilmington, Delaware and in Turkey, where he has dual citizenship.

His candidacy follows a recent trend of celebrities running for political office in the U.S. that have not had any political experience, including the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump. Oz was narrowly elected in the Republican Primary against Dave McCormick by less than one thousand votes, with Kathy Barnette not much farther behind.

In recent months, Dr. Oz has advertised himself as a moderate, but according to his campaign website, the reason he is running for senate is “Because America needs a conservative Republican to cure what’s wrong with Washington.”

WGAL Lancaster says that he has been endorsed by former president Donald Trump and the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association.

Democrats have targeted him for being, as they have labeled him, a “carpetbagger.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, his primary residence was in New Jersey until he bought his home in Bryn Athyn in December 2021, only months before he announced his candidacy.

On the Democratic side, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is aiming to flip the seat in a state that has become increasingly conservative over the past decade.

He has been the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania since 2019, and prior to that was the mayor of Braddock, a former industrial city just outside of Pittsburgh. He was born in West Reading, Pennsylvania and later grew up in York.

This isn’t his first time running for this senate seat; he did so in 2016, but fell far short of winning the Democratic nomination behind Kate McGinty.

In the 2020 primaries however, he won the nomination by 58 percent, beating out the more moderate Conor Lamb. Fetterman has described himself as progressive, but the Philadelphia Inquirer says that he has pushed back on claims that he is a socialist.

He has been endorsed by President Joe Biden and The Human Rights Campaign.

Republicans have accused him of a racist incident that happened in 2013 while he was Braddock’s mayor. He had pulled a gun on a black jogger thinking that he was the one who shot a bullet, when in fact the jogger didn’t, according to NBC News.

What are their views?

In recent months, political pundits have made it known that one of two issues will dominate this election, and depending on which issue prevails will determine which party wins the midterms.

The strongpoint for Republicans is the economy, particularly the rise of inflation. A Morning Consult poll recently found that people trust Republicans on the economy by a 14-point margin.

According to NBC-8 Lancaster, “Oz is critical of President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy, blaming “reckless spending” for inflation. He also said shutdowns and failed economic policies have led to problems with supply chains.”

In recent ads, he has attacked Fetterman for supporting “the Biden economy.” Oz, along with most Republicans, are aiming to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised, and in turn reducing spending and lowering taxes.

The Hill writes that Fetterman responded to these claims by releasing “John’s Plan to Hold Washington Accountable” — proposals to address corporate greed and inflation, among other issues. Some of his proposals include banning members of Congress from trading stocks and increasing production in the United States.

Fetterman has attacked Oz for being “a wealthy, out of touch celebrity” with the middle class, according to The New York Times. During a campaign meeting in Bristol, Fetterman reinstated his support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Oz has not made public his views on raising the minimum wage.

Abortion rights is the other major issue that has been seen as a major winning point for Democrats. Around the time Roe v. Wade, which was the case that made abortion legal nationwide was overturned in June, a Reuters poll showed that 71 percent of Americans supported the right to an abortion.

Most Democrats, including Fetterman, support the right to an abortion. When asked by WGAL if he supports abortion restrictions, Fetterman said “No, I believe that is a choice between a woman and her doctor. As a man and a politician, I don’t have any input on that.” Fetterman’s campaign website also states that if elected, he would support codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.

During a town hall this past May, Dr. Oz said abortion is “murder at any stage,” according to NBC News. Many Republicans aim to ban abortion outright or strictly to limit its availability. But the Capital-Star pointed out that Oz has made contradicting statements recently, including that he “supports exceptions for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is at risk.”

Though abortion and the economy are the top ranked issues, there are other issues that are on voters’ minds this year, such as criminal policy.

Newsweek reports that Dr. Oz supports second amendment gun rights, and is against cashless bail. He has accused certain district attorneys like Larry Krasner of Philadelphia for being “soft on crime,” and has called Fetterman, “The most pro-murderer candidate in America.”

Fetterman, on the other hand, views criminal policy as something that needs reform.

A quote from his website says that he “will make sure law enforcement has the resources necessary to do their job, but I will also prioritize oversight, accountability, and violence prevention.” He told WHYY that “it’s time for Dr. Oz to answer if he believes that the wrongfully convicted should die in prison.”

Another issue that is particularly affecting Bucks students is the student debt crisis. In August, President Biden announced his plan to cancel student debt of up to $20,000 for some people.

After his announcement, Dr. Oz tweeted, “Canceling student loans costs billions and is unfair to those who rightly paid off their debt.”

Fetterman, though, supports forgiveness. His campaign site states, “I’ll support efforts to make community colleges tuition-free and reduce the burden of student loan debt that too many borrowers are experiencing right now.”

Oz and Fetterman are expected to take part in a debate on Tuesday, Oct. 25, the only one planned between the two. Oz has criticized Fetterman for being not fit enough, and is criticizing him for his plan to use a teleprompter at the debate, as Fetterman had a stroke just days before the primaries.

But Fetterman has insisted that he is ok, and recently released a medical report on Oct. 19 stating that he was doing well, according to Business Insider.

The midterms are only a few days away, so students and faculty should make a plan to vote, as your vote can make a huge difference. Especially in a state like Pennsylvania.