Oct 24, 2022
Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Fetterman on Monday implored his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, to condemn former President Donald Trump's threat to challenge midterm election results in the Keystone State and beyond.
"It's clear that Donald Trump, Dr. Oz, and the GOP will do whatever it takes to try and steal this race on election night," Fetterman campaign spokesperson Joe Calvello said in a statement.
"Trump has already said he 'needs' people like Oz in office to challenge the 2024 election," said Calvello. "Trump is trying to steal the 2022 election for Oz so that Trump can steal the 2024 election for himself."
Calvello's statement came in response to a new Rolling Stone report detailing Trump's efforts to sow doubts about electoral outcomes on November 8 and plans to try to suppress vote-counting in Democratic bulwarks through a right-wing onslaught in the courts and media.
Trump is particularly interested in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, including the pivotal contest between his preferred far-right candidate Oz, an ultra-wealthy celebrity television doctor bankrolled by multimillionaires, and Fetterman, a proponent of Medicare for All and reproductive freedom whose campaign has been funded by hundreds of thousands of small donors.
According to Rolling Stone, if Oz "does not win by a wide enough margin to trigger a speedy concession from Fetterman--or if the vote tally is close on or after election night in November--Trump and other Republicans are already preparing to wage a legal and activist crusade against the 'election integrity' of Democratic strongholds such as the Philly area."
Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him through fraudulent mail-in voting in Philadelphia and other large cities has, despite being thoroughly debunked, wreaked havoc on U.S. democracy--fueling a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and equipping GOP lawmakers with a pretext to restrict ballot access and interfere with election administration in dozens of states.
The contest between Oz and Fetterman is one of several close races that will determine which party controls the Senate. According to Rolling Stone, "if there's any hint of doubt about the winners" on November 8, Trump and his allies plan to follow the blueprint he established on election night in 2020, when--with millions of ballots yet to be counted--Trump preemptively and falsely declared, "Frankly, we did win this election."
When Pennsylvania's Republican primary between Oz and ex-hedge fund manager David McCormick was too close to call in May, Trump encouraged Oz to "declare victory," saying that doing so prematurely "makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they 'just happened to find'"--repeating his lie that President Joe Biden's decisive win was the result of widespread voter fraud.
As Rolling Stone noted:
Trump is gripped by the belief that he got cheated in Philadelphia in 2020, and this time around, he has privately demanded his allies concentrate additional firepower and legal resources in the commonwealth's largest and most racially diverse metro area. In recent weeks, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, the ex-president has asked several advisers and at least one of his attorneys what national and Pennsylvania Republicans are doing to prevent Democrats from--in his words--"steal[ing] it in Philadelphia [like] they did last time."
Although Trump and his allies are preparing to launch "scorched-earth" lawsuits and media blitzes in other swing states with crucial match-ups, such as Georgia, Rolling Stone reported that the ex-president's fixation on Pennsylvania, a critical and competitive state that may well determine the winner of 2024 presidential election, reflects his attempt to lay the groundwork for another White House run.
An unnamed source told the magazine that Trump views challenging the results of Pennsylvania's Senate race in just over two weeks as a "dress rehearsal for Trump 2024."
In response, Calvello said that "Dr. Oz needs to immediately disavow these efforts, respect the will of the voters in 2022, and pledge to vote to certify the results of the 2024 election--not challenge the results on behalf of Donald Trump."
Fetterman is currently leading Oz in the polls by 2.2 percentage points, down from 10.2 percentage points last month.
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