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Takeaways from the Pennsylvania primary, and a look ahead to what might matter to voters in November

Matt Rourke

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Fetterman wins Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in a landslide, Oz slightly ahead of McCormick

As primary election results rolled in last night, some candidates took commanding leads, declaring victory early on. For some races, it is still unclear whose name will be on the ballot for their party in November.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman easily defeated Congressman Conor Lamb in the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, winning all 67 counties in the state. Fetterman is currently hospitalized following his surgery to implant a pacemaker after suffering a stroke on Friday.

After a long-waged war through TV ads, heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity Mehmet Oz and former Bridgewater CEO David McCormick are in a dead heat for the Republican nomination as votes continue to be counted.

“It looks like [former president Donald] Trump may get his win, and if not Trump himself personally… Certainly Trump-ism had a good night last night in Pennsylvania,” says Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Consolidation around Barletta could not stop Mastriano victory

Despite a divided field, State Sen. Doug Mastriano won the Republican nomination for governor, with 44.14% of the vote so far. Mastriano will face off against state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who ran uncontested for the Democratic nomination, in the fall.

“Mastriano really won this thing with next to no fundraising operation,” says Julia Terruso, a political reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer. “What that looks like in a general election and whether the party rallies around Mastriano the way he would need them to to be competitive and the money raised will be interesting.”

Last Saturday, former President Trump endorsed the state senator, following two other candidates dropping out of the race and backing former Congressman Lou Barletta, in an effort to stop Mastriano. However, still topped Barletta by 24 percentage points.

“Mastriano outperformed his polling by about ten points,” says Chris Potter, government and accountability editor for WESA. “Whether that's a result of Trump's endorsement or just the fact that polling maybe isn't so reliable in a lot of these Republican races, I don’t know.”

Race remains tight in the 12th Congressional District

The democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s newly redrawn 12th U.S. House district, currently held by retiring Mike Doyle, has yet to be decided. State Representative Summer Lee currently holds about a 450 vote lead above Steve Irwin, with 97% of precincts reporting.

“With the shape of the new district, we're pulling in some more conservative areas in Westmoreland County, where you see Steve Irwin doing better,” says Dana Brown with Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. “We'll see if Summer Lee’s lead continues to hold as we go through these absentee ballots today.”

Irwin got the backing of The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent millions in TV ads on his behalf.

“I saw tons of volunteers, a lot of outreach [for Summer Lee], versus just kind of a pounding [against Lee] over the air,” says political consultant Ben Forstate. “I think that is going to be a strategy a lot of campaigns employ against this kind of massive airwave spending.”

For now, in Allegheny County, there won’t be any more updates on ballot counts until Friday, when the Elections Return Board convenes at 9 a.m.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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