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Fetterman wins Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Tuesday was projected to win the state’s Democratic Senate primary, overcoming a high-profile challenge from Rep. Conor Lamb in the race to fill retiring Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R) open seat. 

The Associated Press called the race at 8:54 p.m. ET.

Fetterman, who also bested state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, held a consistent double-digit polling lead for much of the primary. 

The three candidates were largely similar in their policies, but Fetterman was viewed more as a progressive candidate in part due to his past support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), sharp barbs against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and staunch advocacy for a $15 minimum wage and legalized marijuana. Lamb, a buttoned-up former Marine and prosecutor, was largely pegged as a moderate. 

Democrats have debated for months whether Fetterman is electable. Some argue his progressive reputation could make him unappealing to swing voters, while others suggest his personal brand — he is 6 feet, 9 inches tall and sports a goatee and forearm tattoos — portrays him as authentic. 

President Biden quickly issued a statement saying Fetterman could win in November.

“As Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, John Fetterman understands that working class families in Pennsylvania and across the country have been dealt out for far too long. It’s time to deal them back in, and electing John to the United States Senate would be a big step forward for Pennsylvania’s working people. Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November,” Biden said.

Fetterman suffered a stroke Friday, though Democratic operatives think it will not be an issue come November, as he’s expected to make a full recovery. He also underwent successful surgery to have a pacemaker installed earlier Tuesday.

Fetterman’s victory marks a key win for progressives who have faced a slate of setbacks against moderate candidates so far this cycle. 

The lieutenant governor will now run in what Democrats say is one of their best chances to flip a Senate seat this midterm cycle. 

“John is a leader with backbone who never stands down from doing the right thing for working Pennsylvanians. While Republicans have spent months viciously exposing the flaws in each of their candidates, John is running to ensure no person, no town, and no neighborhood in the Commonwealth is left behind – and those are the values he’ll bring to representing Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Updated at 9:55 p.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Conor Lamb Gary Peters Joe Manchin John Fetterman John Fetterman Malcolm Kenyatta Pat Toomey Pennsylvania Senate race stroke

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