Most of the fireworks we've seen in the battle for the open Pennsylvania Senate seat have been on the Republican side, where Trump's first endorsee dropped out when he was unmasked as a serial domestic abuser and where carpet-baggers Mehmet Oz and David McCormick have been in a multimillion dollar battle to get Trump's endorsement. There are at least two other plausible Republicans in the race, Carla Sands and Jeff Bartos, who are hoping to benefit from the high profile, increasingly vitriolic death match between Oz and McCormick.
So far the battle for the Democratic nomination has been lower key although it pits a front-running, mostly-progressive, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and a DC establishment-backed conservative Democrat, Rep. Conor Lamb. Both in terms of contributions and polling, Fetterman has been way out ahead for the entire race, although there had been some worry-- now dissipated-- that another progressive, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, could split the progressive vote and throw the election to the GOP-lite Lamb.
Polling in the GOP primary, after a spate of the most vicious TV ads flying back and forth for 2 months, shows that McCormick has pulled ahead by a couple of points, although the most recent poll, by Fox, shows him beating Oz by 9 points. The Democratic polling is far more definitive. Fetterman has consistently led the pack by high double digits. Two candidates, Sharif Street and Val Arkoosh, sensing no path to victory has each dropped out. The most recent poll, from Franklin & Marshall:
other and no one- 13%
If Lamb is elected, we'll be stuck with another conservative voting with Manchin and Sinema against the interests of working families. If Fetterman becomes the next senator, he's more likely to create a voting record more similar to Sherrod Brown's, Cory Booker's and Tammy Baldwin's rather than Bernie's or Elizabeth Warren's. This morning, The Hill's Hanna Trudo pointed out that the "gloves have yet to come off against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic primary-- and those waiting for a blue-on-blue bloodbath aren’t likely to get it.
Fetterman has been careful not to drift too far left-- he backs Medicare-For-All and fracking-- but the Republican wing of the Democratic Party has begun to target him. A shady, right-of-center Lamb SuperPAC, Penn Progress, run by conservative shitbags like James Carville "laid the groundwork for attacks over electability," wrote Trudo, "effectively presenting Fetterman as just as tied to the left as Sanders or the 'Squad' and painting Lamb as a more palatable alternative. While some moderate Democrats concede Republicans may try and paint Lamb as similarly liberal, they believe it won’t ring as true."
Fetterman won statewide as lieutenant governor, a success allies say shows he’s more of a Pennsylvania pragmatist than fire-breathing progressive. On style and substance, he’s different from others who shunned the party orthodoxy.
“I don’t think it’s a moderate versus progressive battle,” said one well-placed liberal strategist. “It’s [about] a candidate who embraces the issues the majority of Pennsylvanians stand with.”
With people like Carville involved with Lamb's floundering and increasingly desperate campaign, you can expect two things:
1- a smear campaign against Fetterman from the right.
2- Lamb's numbers to continue to tank as the smear campaign backfires among Democratic primary voters.
3- sowing of distrust for Fetterman among independent general election voters.