By Terrance Turner
May 17, 2022
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman won the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania Senate tonight. Fetterman garnered 59% of the vote, winning the primary — despite suffering a stroke just four days ago.
On Sunday, Fetterman’s campaign revealed that he’d gone to the hospital on Friday at the urging of his wife after not feeling well. “I had a stroke that was caused by a clot from my heart being in an A-fib rhythm for too long,” Fetterman said in a statement.
Today (the day of his primary!) Fetterman had surgery. “John Fetterman just completed a successful procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator. The procedure began at 3:15pm, John was released at 5:56pm, and he has been given the all-clear that it was successful. He is resting at the hospital and recovering well. John continues to improve every day, and he is still on track for a full recovery,” the campaign said in a statement. Fetterman’s campaign said the procedure would “help protect his heart and address the underlying cause of his stroke, atrial fibrillation (A-fib), by regulating his heart rate and rhythm.”
Atrial fibrillation (aFib) is an irregular heart rhythm. Dr. Jay Bhatt, an internal medicine physician, instructor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health and ABC News Contributor, said: “Atrial fibrillation can cause stroke if left untreated. If a blood clot in the upper chamber of heart caused by atrial fibrillation breaks free it can go to the brain and cause a stroke. It can be a minor issue or a more serious issue. Those with Afib are three to five times greater risk for stroke.”
Fetterman did not attend his election night event; he’s still in the hospital. His wife, Gisele Fetterman, spoke to a cheering crowd here after his win was projected and reassured them that “doctors were able to act quickly, and John is going to be back on his feet in no time.”
Fetterman’s victory symbolizes an unusual victory for an unusual candidate. Standing 6-foot-8, he is bald, bearded and tattooed, favoring shorts over suits. As CNN put it: “Fetterman is difficult to pin down politically and looks nothing like a traditional politician, something that set him apart from his primary opponents.”
Fetterman rose to national prominence as the mayor of a faded manufacturing town, Braddock (where he served as mayor from 2006 to 2019). According to the Washington Post, he has embraced much of his party’s orthodoxy, supporting no government-imposed limits on abortion, an end to the Senate filibuster, a higher minimum wage, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and higher refugee quotas. A past supporter of Medicare-for-all, he has described health care as a “fundamental human right” during the current campaign.
He’s a supporter of legalizing marijuana and raising the national minimum wage to $15 per hour. He recently criticized Philadelphia’s reimposition of a mask mandate shortly before it ended, and he broke with President Joe Biden on the Title 42 public health rule for immigration (which required U.S. Border Patrol to prohibit entry of immigrants who posed a health risk re: COVID-19).
Fetterman thanked his supporters on Twitter: