Pennsylvania Republicans were primarily written off this cycle. I admit I thought we were toast, given that Dr. Mehmet Oz winning the Republican Senate primary exposed the state party's appalling candidate depth. Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who I like, was seen as too extreme for Keystone voters, though he was polling within the margin of error with Democrat Josh Shapiro. With summer over, Oz is within striking distance of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, whose mental health has been called into question due to his recovery from a stroke. Mastriano needs a boost—in fact—the whole statewide slate could use a leg up if we want to clinch this crucial race, with Oz’s contest being one that could determine the Senate majority next year.
One issue that’s eaten away at Fetterman’s polling advantage has been his stance on public safety and crime, which is appallingly light. He wants to empty one-third of Pennsylvania prisons and abolish life sentences for convicted murderers. That’s not appealing to suburban voters, who appear to be ready to turn their backs on the Biden agenda this year, though that shift is mainly grounded in their sour attitudes about the state of the economy.
Keystone Democrats must be anxious right now, especially about Fetterman’s collapse, and it could get worse as Philadelphia’s pro-crime district attorney faces an impeachment trial. Fetterman also endorsed this man for re-election, so as NBC News noted, Democrats aren’t going to be able to remain silent for long (via NBC News):
The drive against Larry Krasner has already divided Democrats on the politically charged issues of policing and public safety, cleaving at the diverse coalition of voters Democrats need to turn out in this critical swing state.
“All we need to do is keep together the Democratic coalition that elected Joe Biden,” said Joe Corrigan, a Philadelphia-based Democratic strategist involved in several local and state races. “My fear is that Republicans are doing a decent job of driving a wedge into the coalition.”
Critics — including some Democrats — allege that Krasner's policies have given free rein to criminals and allowed crime rates to soar in Philadelphia, which set a homicide record last year and has seen more violence than other major cities like New York.
“Krasner is a target because of what he symbolizes,” said Berwood Yost, a pollster who directs the Franklin & Marshall College Center for Opinion Research, which conducts the Franklin & Marshall poll in Pennsylvania. “He’s a direct tie to what Republicans would call ‘woke, soft-on-crime views towards the police’ — and those views are just not a popular position anywhere outside of Philadelphia.”
That link is especially clear with Democratic candidate for Senate, John Fetterman, a criminal justice reformer who endorsed Krasner's re-election campaign last year and worked with him to secure the release of two incarcerated brothers who are now prominently featured in GOP attack ads.
If the Pennsylvania House votes to impeach Krasner, he would then stand trial in the Senate, which could vote to either acquit him or remove him from office, just as with the federal impeachment process.
Impeachment and removal would be virtually unprecedented. In the entire history of Pennsylvania, the Legislature has successfully used its impeachment powers only twice — in 1994 and 1811.
Krasner’s allies see an undemocratic attempt to overturn the will of Philadelphia voters, who re-elected him last year by a wide margin, and note there have been countless Pennsylvania officials in the past two centuries who committed serious crimes but were never targeted for impeachment.
Krasner is being investigated for his abject failure to curb the city's gun violence.
This possible impeachment trial and the first debate between Fetterman and Oz could form the perfect storm that could wash away Democratic hopes of keeping that seat. The strategy for the Fetterman campaign is to play down expectations and view him just getting through the debate as a win. The problem is that it’s more applicable to candidates who fully grasp their mental functions.