Control of the United States Senate passes through Pennsylvania. Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not running for re-election and Democrats think they can get the job. The new Republican candidate, Mehmet Oz, recognizes that he is losing the battle and has asked former President Donald Trump for help, who will give a large rally this Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, a city of about 45,000 inhabitants. For his part, the president, Democrat Joe Biden, has scheduled three events in Pennsylvania in one week: this Tuesday, Thursday and next Monday. The duel is served.
With a tie at 50 in the current Senate, in the November 8 elections Pennsylvania’s position is one of the most contested and can tip the balance to one side or the other, so both the Republican and Democratic Parties have it as priority.
Biden begins his offensive precisely in Wilkes-Barre, a city neighboring Scranton, his hometown. This Tuesday he gives a speech at Wilkes University where he is expected to insist on his proposal to ban free access to assault weapons, a promise almost impossible to carry out due to the Republican opposition and the lack of a sufficient majority. He will also explain his measures to give the police more means to fight crime.
After that first incursion, the White House has announced for this Thursday an unusual speech “in prime time” on “the continuing battle for the soul of the nation.” Biden has chosen a symbolic location for the event, Independence National Historical Park, in Philadelphia. The downtown spot where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the US Constitution in 1989.
the soul of the nation
That battle for the soul of the nation can translate into a criticism of the extremism that, in his opinion, has been installed in Trump’s Republican Party and its supporters, whose ideology he branded last week as “semi-fascism” with a campaign start attitude. : “The Republicans MAGA [en referencia a Trump y sus partidarios] they not only threaten our personal rights and economic security. They are a threat to our own democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace political violence. They don’t believe in democracy,” he said Thursday in Maryland. That was a party act, while Thursday’s is institutional, so we will have to see how the president models his tone.
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Biden’s triple visit to Pennsylvania is completed with an event with the unions on Monday in Pittsburgh, where he is expected to coincide with the Democratic candidate for the Senate, John Fetterman. That day she will double because he will also travel to another similar event to Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, another state where she won in 2020 and in which the renewal of a Republican senator is at stake.
Trump, for his part, has organized a massive event this Saturday in a Wilkes-Barre pavilion with a capacity for about 10,000 people. The Republican candidate for the Senate, Dr. Oz, will participate with him. It is Trump’s first intervention in a public act since the search of Mar-a-Lago, his mansion in Florida, on August 8. The judicial investigation has accentuated his extremist discourse. This week, Trump has called for him to be declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election or, “at a minimum,” for the election to be repeated.
The importance of Pennsylvania
In the legislative elections midway through Biden’s term, a little more than a third of the Senate is renewed, where there is now a tie at 50 that is only broken by the vice president, Kamala Harris. Of the 35 seats up for grabs, 21 are for Republicans and 14 for Democrats. Among the latter, there are nine who are sure to vote again for the president’s party and another two where it would be a surprise if they did not. The chances for the Republicans, therefore, are limited and are mainly focused on Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, and to a lesser extent on Colorado and New Hampshire. But they are States that voted for Biden in 2020 and in none do the Republicans end up trusting.
Those calculations are made under the premise that the Republicans keep their seats. But they begin to have weak points and the main one is precisely Pennsylvania. If the Democrats win that state, they leave the Republicans with little room for error, since they would have to win two other seats. Forecasts still make it more likely that Republicans control both chambers, but the margin has narrowed and the trend has changed.
The Republican candidate for the Senate from Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz, at a rally with Donald Trump, last May. Gene J. Puskar (AP)
The Republican candidate is Mehmet Oz, of Turkish descent, a non-practicing Muslim (a Muslim has never become a senator in the United States), who was a prestigious cardiothoracic surgeon. From there he launched himself into television, first as a guest of Oprah Winfrey and then with his solo show, where he frequently gave pseudoscientific, misguided or misplaced recommendations. He achieved fame and fortune (he has a net worth of more than 100 million dollars) and made the leap into politics. He narrowly won the primaries because he failed to convince Republican voters, who booed him in May at a rally he gave alongside Trump. They see him as a paratrooper, not rooted in Pennsylvania, and a lip service Republican who was tolerant of abortion, critical of fracking for oil and a supporter of greater gun control.
He is trailing in the polls John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, a Democrat from the left wing of the party who wants Biden to legalize marijuana nationwide: The six-foot-tall Fetterman gave several rallies in a sweatshirt and shorts, clothing with which he also received Biden on a previous visit to Pennsylvania. Fetterman suffered a stroke just before the primaries for which he needs to wear a pacemaker and for which he has limited his public appearances. Oz’s supporters have begun to use his health condition as a campaign argument.
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