In private memo, Fetterman confronts a new obstacle: being outsourced

Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, dominated the summer Senate race, making Republicans increasingly concerned about their chances of holding the seat. Fetterman led Oz in fundraising and won headlines for the famed doctor’s trolling about his ties to New Jersey. Fetterman also had the airwaves to himself for weeks when Oz went black on TV after his hard-fought GOP primary win.

Recently, however, Republicans have poured millions into TV ads attacking Fetterman as being gentle on crime, a charge he has denied in his own commercials, pointing to his efforts to reduce the murder rate as mayor of a steel town.

And the GOP has indeed had a head start on TV in recent weeks in Pennsylvania. An analysis of data from ad-tracking company AdImpact shows that the combined TV ad spend by Oz and GOP outside of groups began to overtake the combined totals of Fetterman and Democratic allies in the week of Aug. 23. Republicans are on track to outpace their spending Democrats $24 million to $17 million between then and the first full week of October.

According to AdImpact, the GOP also beats Democrats in that time frame in terms of the total number of ads aired and the dollar amount spent on ads. However, in the week of October 4, Democrats booked more TV ads than Republicans, although new ad placements between now and then could change that.

A multimillionaire, Oz is self-funding and has a super PAC that has supported him since the primary.

Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May, is under intense pressure from Oz and the news media to engage in debate. In an interview with POLITICO last week, Fetterman promised to appear at a debate with Oz.

The Fetterman campaign isn’t the only one concerned about spending in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Some state Democrats concerned about the recent crushing of GOP money are keenly wondering why the Washington, DC-based Democratic super-PACs aren’t emptying their wallets in the state.

“Democrats should be spending money on this because they will look like complete fools ruining this race because Fetterman did everything right and brought it into play. And if they’re holding it in because they’re spending money on something else or getting cocky or whatever, shame on you,” said Doc Sweitzer, a Democratic media consultant in Pennsylvania. “So many of these groups in Washington are dumber than a box of rocks. .”

Fetterman leads Oz by nearly 10 percentage points in the FiveThirtyEight public poll average, although individual public polls in the past month have given Fetterman a lead of 2 points to a barely credible 21 points.

However, McPhillips wrote in the donor message that the election is paper thin in the Fetterman campaign’s internal polls, describing the numbers as “our neck and neck with Oz”.

Joe Calvello, a spokesman for the Fetterman campaign, was asked for comment, saying the memo “speaks for itself.”

Asked about the concerns of the camp of Fetterman and other Democrats in Pennsylvania, a top Democratic super PAC reiterated that it is investing in the race.

“As we move into the final stretch, we’re making sure voters continue to see Oz for what he really is: a selfish New Jersey fraudster trying to buy a Senate seat,” said Veronica Yoo, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority PAC.

Democrats remain optimistic about the race in the Pennsylvania Senate, and Fetterman’s campaign is partly focused on raising money and, perhaps, lowering expectations. In Fetterman’s memo, McPhillips said that “we have exceeded 1 million individual donations and have fully booked red and blue counties across the state,” but “[f]Attacks on John’s file also threaten to drown out our message.”

The closely watched contest could determine Senate party control next year.

Despite historical trends in favor of the party losing power in midterm elections, political forecasters have described the national battle for the Senate as a toss-up or even in favor of Democrats, in part because of weak GOP nominees. Oz has been criticized as a flawed candidate for his trouble uniting the Republican base.

The Supreme Court ruling ending the national right to abortion this summer has also improved the political position of Democrats across the country.

But Democrats have long expected the race to get closer in Pennsylvania, a perpetual swing state where the last two presidential elections have been decided by about 1 percentage point or less.

Democrats also expected a wave of Republican money, including from the… Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, would make some senate games on the battlefield more competitive after Labor Day.

Earlier this week, Rick Scottchairman of the Senate Republican campaign branch, announced during a Senate GOP luncheon that an internal Wisconsin poll now showed the incumbent Republican Senate. Ron Johnson leading Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes by 4 percentage points.

A public poll released Wednesday also showed Johnson had an advantage, albeit by a smaller margin. Previous public inquiries had found Barnes up front.

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