By ANTHONY HENNEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – As voting moves toward conclusion Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s contributing role in determining control of the U.S. Senate and House has grabbed great national attention.
Results, however, for the Keystone State may not be known until days later.
Grabbing the most headlines in and outside of the state in the run-up to Election Day has been the battle for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Democrat John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, faces Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, who rose to notoriety on television, in a bid to fill a seat held by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring.
Polls have been extremely close, with Lt. Gov. Fetterman leading for most of the campaign, as The Center Square previously reported, but that has flipped — Dr. Oz has a narrow lead of 47% to 46.9% according to an average of recent polls by Real Clear Politics.
Lt. Gov. Fetterman has pitched himself as a fighter for forgotten Pennsylvanians, while Dr. Oz has sold himself as a “living embodiment of the American dream” and a force for change, as The Center Square previously reported. Which narrative voters find compelling may decide which party controls the Senate.
In the U.S. House, the 7th Congressional District race between Democratic incumbent Susan Wild and Republican Lisa Scheller is a rematch of 2020 – and another dead heat, with Wild in the lead by 1 percentage point. The race has been an expensive one, with more than $10 million spent by both candidates. While Ms. Scheller has focused on inflation and the economy as a way to attract voters, voters who are more concerned about abortion have supported Ms. Wild.
Pennsylvania’s race for governor has been called one of the country’s top races, but polls and campaign donations have consistently favored Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general, over Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano for months. The RealClearPolitics poll average gives Mr. Shapiro a lead greater than 10 percentage points.
Mr. Shapiro has positioned himself as a moderate Democrat supportive of the commonwealth’s natural gas industry who wants to cut taxes and government red tape while calling Sen. Mastriano extreme. Sen. Mastriano has been criticized by other Republicans for running a “covert campaign” by not talking to media or running more ads; his pitch has been lighter on details than Mr. Shapiro but focuses on anti-COVID restrictions, giving parents more control over their children’s education, and growing the state’s economy by boosting the natural gas industry.
For all the races, however, it may take days before Pennsylvania voters know who won.
Pennsylvanians well remember the primary, held on May 17 that didn’t get a concession from Republican U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick to Dr. Oz until a Friday more than two weeks after Election Day.
Secretary of State Leigh Chapman has warned of delays because Pennsylvania law does not allow election officials to start processing and counting mail-in ballots until polls open Tuesday. Officials in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have also published lists of mail-in ballots that have issues, encouraging voters who appear on those lists to fix their mistakes at the county board of elections. Allegheny County has more than 1,000 ballots with issues and Philadelphia County has more than 3,000.
A close race could also mean lawsuits to decide the victor.Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court last week declared that undated ballots (where a date is missing on the outer envelope of a mail-in ballot) should not be counted according to state law that requires the envelope to be signed and dated. Already, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit to have those undated ballots counted.