PITTSBURGH — John Fetterman is the winner of the Democratic nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, NBC News projected Tuesday.
He will face the winner of a competitive Republican primary, the result of which isn' yet known. The seat is being vacated by the retiring two-term GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
Minutes after NBC News projected the contest, Fetterman, who is in the hospital recovering from a health scare in the closing days of the race, tweeted his gratitude to voters.
“This is the most important race in the country. Control of the Senate is going to come down to Pennsylvania, and we have to flip this seat. We have a hard fight ahead of us — but Pennsylvania is worth fighting for,” Fetterman said in a written statement.
His campaign said Sunday that he had a stroke on Friday but that the treatment was successful and that he expects a full recovery. On Tuesday, shortly before polls closed, his campaign announced that he had "completed a successful procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator."
Fetterman didn't attend his election night event. His wife, Gisele Fetterman, spoke to a cheering crowd here after his win was projected and reassured them that "doctors were able to act quickly, and John is going to be back on his feet in no time."
The contest is arguably Democrats’ best opportunity to pick up a Republican-held seat in what is shaping up to be a grim political landscape for the party in power in the Nov. 8 general election.
Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, jumped in the race early and established himself as the front-runner, quickly raising huge sums of money and using his statewide name recognition to solidify his position. He is projected to defeat Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, according to NBC News.
For Pennsylvania Democrats, the 6-foot-8 Fetterman is unconventional in style and substance. He’s a supporter of legalizing marijuana and raising the national minimum wage to $15 per hour. He recently criticized Philadelphia’s reimposition of a mask mandate shortly before it ended, and he broke with President Joe Biden on the Title 42 public health rule for immigration.
Gisele Fetterman voted in their town of Braddock just outside Pittsburgh, where John Fetterman formerly served as mayor. She told reporters afterward that he would be back on the campaign trail “soon” without offering an exact date.
Biden congratulated Fetterman in a statement Tuesday night, saying electing him to the Senate "would be a big step forward for Pennsylvania’s working people."
"Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November," Biden said.
He also knocked the Republican field.
"They have fought a malicious, chaotic primary campaign to be the most extreme," Biden said. "And they have shown people their authentic selves — that whoever emerges will be too dangerous, too craven, and too extreme to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Senate."