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We thought it was apropos before we sunset for the summer to offer some unsolicited advice on where the candidates should focus their energies in the coming months if they want to win in November.
Take it or leave it.
John Fetterman: Spend more time in Philadelphia
Yes, we’re biased. One of us lives here. The other used to.
But Fetterman didn’t do a single rally in the city during the Democratic Senate primary, focusing instead on smaller, more rural counties. That strategy paid off, with Fetterman winning all 67 counties and close to 60% of the vote statewide. But he’ll need much more out of Philly to win the general election.
Fetterman narrowly beat hometown candidate Malcolm Kenyatta in Philadelphia, but by a much slimmer margin than he won other counties. The same was true in suburban counties. Of the seven counties where he got his lowest share of votes, five of them were Philly and its four collar counties — all key to Democratic hopes statewide.
Voters won’t just be looking at where Fetterman shows up, but how he’s doing following his stroke last month. His wife Gisele said this week she hopes he’ll be back on the trail by July. But given doctor’s orders about diet and exercise, even if he does come to town, don’t expect the cheesesteak photo op.
Suggested reading — A Prayer for the City, by Buzz Bissinger
Mehmet Oz: Spend more time in Pennsylvania
Fetterman’s campaign started selling “Oz for New Jersey” bumper stickers and blasted out a picture of Oz’s voter registration card in New Jersey (to coincide with the state’s primary day yesterday). Despite some inaccurate Twitter chatter yesterday, Oz actually is registered to vote in Pennsylvania, and voters can be registered in multiple states — as long as they don’t vote in more than one.
But it’s a lens into the line of attack Fetterman has settled on early. And it’s not just him. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, already stumping for his former primary opponent Fetterman, has dubbed Oz “Dr. New Jersey.” The best way for Oz to combat that is to hit the ground running.
Oz won by such a slim margin, and faced so many questions about the depth of his conservative beliefs, he has a lot of Republicans to win over across the state. Last we checked, he was living with his in-laws while renovating a mansion in Huntington Valley. Might we suggest a MTV Cribs-style tour once it’s done?
Suggested reading — Fodors: Pennsylvania Travel Guide
Josh Shapiro: Find some distance from Biden
If Democrats are going to be successful in what’s expected to be a brutal midterm cycle for their party, they may need to run on their own merits — and with some distance from an unpopular president.
Shapiro is a strong candidate. He’s also a traditional looking and sounding politician who could struggle at a time when unorthodox candidates have done well. But running for governor presents the opportunity to draw a distinction from what Washington can do for your state, and what a governor can.
As state attorney general, Shapiro got more votes than Biden when they were both on the ballot in 2020. To win again, he’ll have to stay ahead of his party’s president.
Suggested reading — Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne, by Douglas Mastriano
Doug Mastriano: Find some distance from Trump
To win, he’ll likely have to convince some more moderate voters that that persona has been overblown, and lean into issues that aren’t about election denial or banning abortion.
Mastriano already has a fervently supportive base who rallied behind him in the primary, and he has Trump’s influential backing. But in narrowly divided Pennsylvania, a Trump endorsement can cut both ways.
Mastriano will need to show he has more cards to play.
Suggested reading — The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, by John Bolton
Overheard on the campaign trail
“I’m not going anywhere. This is my home. This is our home. This is where my dreams were launched, and this is where we plan to have a future.”
What have you liked about this newsletter? What do you want to see more of when we return? Let us know. Until then, here’s to sunny beach days, breezy mountain weekends, and just a little less politics.