Black, rural voters weigh in on Pennsylvania Senate race

Pennsylvania 2022 midterm election

Mehmet Oz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, speaks at House of Glory Philly CDC in Philadelphia, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Ryan Collerd)

(NewsNation) — As the midterm election draws near, candidates are doing all they can to reach potential voters.

Engaging West Philadelphia voters has been a door-to-door effort. Democratic canvassing groups are ramping up their outreach in some historically Black communities, hoping turnout might tip the scales in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

In presidential years, historic Black voter turnout in Philadelphia helped lead former President Barack Obama to victory in both elections.

Philadelphia City Council member Jamie Gauthier says that’s exactly why they’re getting in their steps now two weeks until election day.

“We are getting out into our communities,” Gauthier said. “We’re knocking on thousands of doors because we know that if we can get Brown and Black Philadelphians to vote, Democrats are going to win.”

Neighborhood issues — better public schools and safe communities — are resonating over the national noise of the campaign and the back-and-forth of candidates, canvassers say.

According to West Phliadelphia voter William Squires, Democratic candidate John Fetterman seems more involved in local issues.

“When it comes to the crime and stuff like that, yes, that’s important but I’m more concerned about my Democracy,” Squires said.

Others like voter Gloria King aren’t sure about either candidate.

“I’m a Democrat so I will vote but if I’m being honest, I don’t like nobody — but I have a right to vote,” King said.

Rural voters are tuning in, too.

Tucked away in southern Pennsylvania — between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, is Franklin County. Waynesboro is about as far south as you can go before hitting Maryland.

That’s where Eric Christie lives and where he spends his days crafting and selling tobacco pipes. His business is everything — and it’s why he says he’s voting for Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

“Our electric bills went up almost double,” Christie said. “It’s hard. Inflation on food. People can’t afford it.”

Just to the north in the county seat of Chambersburg, however, the town of 20,000 bustled with activity while hosting a food truck festival.

Glenn Russ walked the streets with his family. He’s a registered Republican, but said there’s no way Oz is getting his vote.

“Fetterman is more leaning into the locality and talking to the people, whereas the-one-who-shall-not-be- named is another talking head clown,” Russ said.

Franklin county is home to just over 150,000 residents — and gave former President Donald Trump more than 70% of the vote in 2020.

Oz has said he believes he can pull more Republican support in the big cities and suburbs than anyone else who was on the GOP primary ticket. The base, however, is in the heart of the keystone state.

The race was tight as of Monday, and the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls showed Oz trailing Fetterman by just more than two percentage points.

Pennsylvania voter Nicole Wilson said Republicans aren’t too fond of Oz, but they’ll probably still vote for him.

“It’s the lesser of two evils,” Wilson said.

Some, like Christie, don’t know much about Oz to begin with. All that matters to him is that Fetterman doesn’t win the seat, he said.

“It’s probably more so the balance of power in Washington,” he said. “I mean, Washington doesn’t care about us.”

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