The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board on Sunday not only endorsed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman but also argued that his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, is "wholly unprepared" for the role.
The newspaper—founded nearly two centuries ago—made the move less than a month before the midterm elections. Early voting in Pennsylvania is done by mail; voters can request a no-excuse mail-in ballot until 5:00 pm ET on November 1.
Fetterman and Oz's contest is one of a few closely watched races—along with those in Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin—that will determine whether Democrats lose their narrow control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years.
The Inquirer's board wrote Sunday that U.S. President Joe Biden's first two years "have been fruitful for Pennsylvania" but "there is still much more work to be done in Washington on issues that Pennsylvanians care about," and progress on priorities such as protecting abortion rights and restoring the enhanced child tax credit could stall in a split Senate.
"That is just one reason why it is crucial for Pennsylvania voters to elect John Fetterman to the U.S. Senate in November," the board said. "An experienced public servant, Fetterman has an abundance of the kind of values and priorities that are needed to move the nation forward."
The editorial continues:
In the Democratic primary in May, this board chose to endorse Conor Lamb for the seat being vacated by Pat Toomey. Lamb's positions on such issues as abortion rights, the filibuster, the child tax credit, and other matters of public policy largely aligned with our own. At the time, Fetterman also struggled to demonstrate sufficient reflection about a 2013 episode in which he drew a shotgun on an unarmed Black man who Fetterman, then mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, wrongly suspected had been involved in a shooting.
In a recent interview ahead of the November 8 election, Fetterman was more contemplative about the incident. While he still defends his split-second reaction—which he said was driven by a feeling of responsibility as mayor to keep residents safe after hearing gun shots, he also said that he has a better understanding of the impact of racial profiling. As lieutenant governor, he has made equity in criminal justice a priority.
"Fetterman also shows signs of recovery from the stroke he suffered May 13—four days before the Pennsylvania primary," the board stressed, pointing to other political figures who have served in office after similar health experiences.
Meanwhile, "Oz has refused to commit to opposing a national abortion ban, opposes the expanded child tax credit, would repeal the Affordable Care Act, and would vote against red flag gun-control laws," the paper noted. "Those positions are all reversals from views that Oz held as a Republican just a few years ago. If there are any values that Oz holds dear, it is difficult to ascertain what they are."
The board highlighted that "Oz's resumé is also notably devoid of any significant record of public service. A celebrity doctor who once had his own television program, Oz spent much of his career touting miracle cures."
"He has cozied up to former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz in the primary," the editorial adds. "Oz has said that he would have voted to acquit Trump during his second impeachment after the insurrection of January 6, 2021—a statement that is particularly disconcerting given that the former president is considering another White House run in 2024."
Though recent polls have shown Fetterman leading Oz, the results have been within the margin of error.
The Democrat on Saturday turned out a capacity crowd at an elementary school in Delaware County—which is known as Delco and borders Philadelphia—despite competing with a professional baseball game.
"The energy and enthusiasm for John Fetterman is strong here in SEPA," his campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, said of Southeast Pennsylvania.
"And there's no better proof point than this: Not only did John turnout hundreds today during a Phillies home playoff game, but more than three thousand showed up last month in Montgomery County during the Eagles season opener at home," McPhillips said. "That right there is the type of real enthusiasm that wins elections."