In Pennsylvania’s controversial Senate race, Democratic candidate Lt. gov. John Fetterman his Republican rival, Mehmet Oz, where he lives.
Fetterman targeted the number of homes Oz owns on Wednesday, using the famed doctor and TV personality’s ten real estate portfolio to portray him as a wealthy carpet packer who has no contact with the average Pennsylvanian.
“I’ve never spoken to a PA resident who doesn’t know how many houses they have… let alone be gone by 8am,” Fetterman joked on Twitter following a Tuesday report from the Daily Beast that Oz owns 10 properties — far more than the two “legitimate” homes he claimed in an exchange with a Democratic operative at a recent public event.
Oz defended himself by saying he bought his homes with his own money — a swipe at Fetterman, who relied on significant financial support from his family until he became lieutenant governor in 2019.
“You lived off your parents until you were almost 50. Ordinary people don’t mooch off their parents when they’re 50. Get off the couch John!” Ozo tweeted. He answered Fetterman in a continued tweet that he had “10 properties” but “2 houses”, which he said he revealed when announcing his candidacy.
The mud-slinging on social media has been a feature of the race since the candidates emerged from the May primary, although Fetterman’s camp has shown much more fluency with pop culture and social media (following the Twitter spat, the Fetterman campaign hit Oz with a game show parody of “Family Feud” titled “How Many Houses Do You Own?”)
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The social media squabble comes as new forecasts show the tight race is drifting in Fetterman’s favor: On Thursday, the unbiased Cook Political Report shifted its rating of the race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.”
With less than three months left until Election Day, the news is a boon to Democrats who must keep every seat to maintain their majority in the Senate. Earlier this year, analysts had predicted that November would be a downfall for Democrats — midterm elections are often rough on the president’s party — but Democrats hope abortion rights and President Biden’s recent legislative victories over drug pricing and climate change voters this fall.
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At the same time, several Republican Senate candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump have struggled, including Oz, retired Georgia football star Herschel Walker, and Ohio venture capitalist and author JD Vance.
Fetterman has repeatedly mocked Oz for his alleged lack of Pennsylvania bona fides, enlisting New Jersey celebrities to troll Oz, who spent decades as a resident of the Garden State before moving in 2020. When Oz tried to reach voters with more zest for life messages, Fetterman’s team highlighted the wealthy doctor’s often clumsy attempts to label himself as everyone.
Recently, an April Oz campaign video resurfaced on Monday and went viral for all the wrong reasons: It messed up the name of Pennsylvania-based grocery store Redner’s while lamenting what inflation under Biden has done to the price of raw food.
Oz has more than $100 million in assets, according to an April financial disclosure, most in stock ownership and real estate, including homes in four states and several properties in Turkey (Oz is Turkish-American and holds dual citizenship in the country) .
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Fetterman owns one share of Verizon worth between $1,000 and $15,000 and earned $255,184 of his salary as a lieutenant governor. Oz has criticized Fetterman for obscuring his privileged suburban upbringing and elite education with the tattooed and hoodie-wearing image voters have come to know.
Oz, who has made millions as an accomplished heart surgeon and TV personality under Oprah Winfrey’s wing, has criticized Fetterman for living off family money. Fetterman, whose father had built a successful insurance business, acknowledged that his parents supported him financially for much of his life, including his stint as an AmeriCorps member and during his 13 years as mayor of the small town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, where he served. earned a monthly salary of $150.
With only months until the November election, Fetterman’s greatest vulnerability appears to be not Oz’s attacks, but his own health. He suffered a stroke in May just before the primary and was three months off the campaign trail. Last week, he made his first personal public appearance since the stroke, acknowledging that it had lingering effects on his speech and syntax.
Oz has aggressively challenged Fetterman to five debates between now and the election, a move strategists previously told The Washington Post aims to get voters to focus on his challenger’s health.
It is unclear if Fetterman will meet Oz on the debate stage. For now, he’s happy to take on Oz on social media. On Thursday, the Fetterman campaign announced it had joined TikTok – the youth voter platform of choice – and promised more viral moments in the future.