The national media and some Democrats are rushing to defend John Fetterman, the Democratic Pennsylvania lieutenant governor running for the U.S. Senate, who performed miserably against Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in Tuesday night’s debate. It will be the only event of its kind before Election Day, and most voters walked away curious about whether Fetterman, who suffered a severe stroke last spring, could execute the duties of the office. The former Braddock mayor struggled to string coherent sentences together while Oz performed well, demonstrating a firm grasp of the issues and laying out his agenda for the people of the Keystone State.
Fetterman’s camp went so far as to blame the closed captioning system, one of his campaign’s stipulations for the debate, for the messy deliveries. No one is buying that, but Oz’s camp offered a do-over debate should Mr. Fetterman agree. As Democratic operatives are reportedly in full panic mode, he won't, adding that this debate might have killed Democratic chances for picking up this seat being vacated by outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
One issue that has helped Oz mount a comeback in his race is hitting on Fetterman’s horrible record on public safety. He doesn’t shy away from the view that life imprisonment should be abolished for murderers while also advocating to release of one-third of PA’s prison population. With crime spiking, this issue has become a top concern for voters this cycle. It could get another healthy dose of media coverage as the state legislature mulls an impeachment vote against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner for dereliction of duty regarding gun violence. He’s too soft on those committing these firearm-related felonies, which isn’t good news for Fetterman since he endorsed the man for re-election (via NYT):
Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives filed articles of impeachment on Wednesday against Larry Krasner, the unabashedly progressive district attorney of Philadelphia, charging that he had been “derelict in his obligations” to prosecute crimes in a city struggling with a spike in gun violence.
In a news conference, State Representative Martina White, a Republican who represents part of northeast Philadelphia and is the prime sponsor of the impeachment resolution, accused Mr. Krasner of being “responsible for the rise in crime across our city,” saying that he had “tipped the scales of justice in favor of criminals.”
The articles were filed two days after a legislative committee issued a report castigating Mr. Krasner’s nearly five-year tenure as district attorney, but not recommending impeachment. The committee, charged with investigating how laws are enforced in Philadelphia, has not completed its work. But at the news conference, State Representative Kerry Benninghoff, the House majority leader, said the duty of the legislature was “to not stick our head in the sand like a lot of other people and do nothing and hope this suddenly gets better.”
This first step in the impeachment process, coming on the last scheduled legislative day before the midterm elections, had been anticipated and condemned as “a political stunt” by Mr. Krasner last week.
Mr. Krasner’s approach has led to some friction with other city leaders. Philadelphia’s police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, said in a recent statement that the police were repeatedly arresting people with “extensive criminal histories,” and that “the question needs to be asked as to why they were yet again back out on the street.” The House included her statement in the articles of impeachment.
The report that the House committee issued on Monday included data showing that the number of illegal gun possession cases ending in convictions had fallen significantly in Philadelphia, with a much higher proportion being withdrawn or dismissed there than in most other places in the state.
The first article of impeachment charges that Mr. Krasner’s approach to enforcing laws rose to the level of the “misbehavior in office,” which the state Constitution cites as a basis for impeachment. The second article charges him with having “obstructed the efforts” of the legislative committee, recounting the months of battles between the committee and Mr. Krasner’s office, including a lawsuit challenging the committee itself and a vote by the House finding Mr. Krasner in contempt for not complying with a subpoena.
Now, will it have an impact on Pennsylvania? Fetterman’s onstage meltdown against Oz sealed the deal, but it could give some more oxygen to the fan the flames of the law and order narrative Oz is selling. A narrative that has reportedly put the state’s suburbs in play. Either way, for Fetterman, the news of a local DA that you endorsed being on the verge of being impeached because he’s too weak to enforce the law this close to D-Day isn’t good.
Also, Democrats shouldn’t obsess about early voting because it doesn’t matter. First, these instances make a good case for why early voting should be limited even more since I’m sure a healthy number of Pennsylvanians are probably second-guessing their vote for a guy who could barely put together a cogent thought. Second, the Democrats’ early voting advantage says next to nothing about how the state will lean in the end. North Carolina Democrats have a ten-point early voting advantage right now. It was 13 points in 2016—and Trump took the state. It’s just not news, and no discernable election data points can be gleaned from it.