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Two super PACs are pouring tens of millions into Pennsylvania for Oz and Fetterman ads

Two national super PACs are spending about $30 million each booking up TV time to boost Fetterman and Oz in Pa.

Republican Mehmet Oz (left) will face off against Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the race for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat in the November 2022 general election.
Republican Mehmet Oz (left) will face off against Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the race for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat in the November 2022 general election.Read moreMCT / STAFF

Pennsylvania was already expected to have one of the most expensive Senate races in the country. Now two super PACs are spending big bucks booking TV time.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC focused on reclaiming the Senate, will pour an additional $9.5 million into promoting Mehmet Oz’s campaign, raising its total pledged spending to about $34 million in the state. The increase reflects a doubling down of Republicans on winning the seat in Pennsylvania and an urgency to get Oz, who had not been on TV until recently, on air.

In a sign of how both parties are gearing up in Pennsylvania, the Democratic Senate Majority PAC, which supports Democratic Senate campaigns, launched its own $32 million TV ad campaign for Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Tuesday.

Both groups said Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat is a key race.

“Pennsylvania is a top-tier priority that is integral to our goal of electing a Republican Senate majority,” Senate Leadership Fund president Steven Law said of the GOP PAC. “We have long said Pennsylvania is a winnable seat if Republicans can stay competitive on air and articulate a message about improving Americans’ quality of life — now we are putting our money where our mouth is.”

JB Poersch, president of the Democratic Senate Majority PAC, also said the state is critical. He predicted his group’s investment “will ensure that voters across the Commonwealth continue seeing and hearing the truth about Mehmet Oz: he’s a carpetbagging fraud who will say or do anything to benefit himself even if it means hurting working families.”

The PAC backing Oz had originally planned to go on air the second week of September but will instead start on Aug. 19. Oz went up with his first TV ad of the general election, backed in part by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in late July. The ad accused Fetterman of being “soft on crime.”

The $34 million trails only Georgia in what the GOP’s Leadership Fund has committed to each of seven key races. The others are Arkansas, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

The Senate Majority PAC began airing pro-Fetterman ads on Tuesday, slamming Oz’s wealth and multiple residences.

The ad titled “Home” lists Oz’s houses around the country and contrasts him with Fetterman, who a narrator says “has Pennsylvania in his blood.”

“Celebrity millionaire Mehmet Oz has a lot of homes,” the narrator says. “A mansion in New Jersey. A villa in Palm Beach. A Manhattan condo. Three houses in Turkey. John Fetterman? Has one. … In Braddock, Pennsylvania.”

Fetterman’s campaign has repeatedly tried to paint Oz, who moved to Pennsylvania from New Jersey to run for the seat, as an out-of-touch millionaire who doesn’t understand the Keystone State.

Super PACs cannot coordinate directly with campaigns but have no contribution limits, allowing them to raise unlimited sums of money to create independent messaging to boost their candidates.

As of the most recent fund-raising deadline, Fetterman had raised $11 million from April to June and Oz had brought in $3.8 million, including a $2.2 million loan he gave his campaign.

The infusion of national cash shows how critical the race is viewed on both sides of the aisle — and potentially how winnable both parties see it. It’s also a reflection of how expensive TV time is to buy in Pennsylvania, a state with several pricey media markets.