“This race is for the future of every community all across Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said during his victory speech. “For every small town or person who got left behind.”

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman narrowly defeated Dr. Mehmet Oz on Tuesday, flipping a crucial Republican-held Senate seat as Democrats look to maintain control of the upper chamber.

john fetterman on stage

Speaking to supporters after the race was called in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Fetterman said his dedicated campaign strategy of reaching every Pennsylvania county, regardless of past hostility to Democratic candidates, was key to his victory.

“We launched this campaign almost two years ago, and we had our slogan. It’s on every one of those signs right now: ‘Every county, every vote,'” Fetterman declared. “And that’s exactly what happened. We jammed them up. I never expected that we were going to turn these red counties blue, but we did what we needed to do and we had that conversation across every one of those counties.”

“That’s why I’ll be the next U.S senator from Pennsylvania,” said Fetterman, who made a point of campaigning in typically Republican-friendly neighborhoods and, as a result, significantly outperformed President Joe Biden in a number of red counties.

On Twitter, Fetterman wrote that “we bet on the people of Pennsylvania—and you didn’t let us down.”

“And I won’t let you down,” he added. “Thank you.”

The race to fill the seat left empty by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was one of the most closely watched in the country—and far and away the most expensive, with more than $312 million spent by both candidates combined. Oz, a former television personality, spent around $25 million of his own fortune on the race and raked in cash from corporate interests such as the oil and gas industry.

Fetterman, who overcame a stroke that took him off the campaign trail for weeks, relied on a grassroots campaign fueled by small donations and enthusiastic volunteers eager to elect a candidate who promised to support codifying abortion rights at the federal level, a $15 minimum wage, and other progressive priorities.

“John Fetterman’s campaign spoke to working people’s basic needs: lowering costs, raising wages, and getting people the healthcare they deserve,” said Nicolas O’Rourke, organizing director at the Working Families Party, which knocked on more than 400,000 doors across Pennsylvania in support of Fetterman’s Senate bid.

“This is a big victory for thousands of grassroots volunteers who texted, phone banked, and knocked on doors for months on end,” O’Rourke continued. “Pennsylvania WFP went all out for Fetterman to strengthen the Democratic majority and get big things done on healthcare, climate, and pro-worker legislation. We look forward to working with John to advance those priorities in the Senate.”

Varshini Prakash of the youth-led Sunrise Movement—which contacted more than 415,000 young, working-class, first-time voters in Pennsylvania—said in a statement that “young people pushed Fetterman over the edge.”

“We are excited about this win, but make no mistake, now that John Fetterman will be the next senator of Pennsylvania, we will hold him accountable to the young people who elected him by pushing him on climate ambition, correcting his immigration platform, and ensuring he fights for our generation,” Prakash added.

Fetterman’s victory was officially announced as Senate races in other critical states, from Georgia to Wisconsin to Nevada, remained too close to call, leaving control of the upper chamber uncertain.

Meanwhile, Democrats appeared to be outperforming expectations in U.S. House races and gubernatorial contests. In Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, progressive Summer Lee fought off a last-minute onslaught of AIPAC spending to defeat her Republican opponent.

And Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, defeated Doug Mastriano—an election denier backed by former President Donald Trump—in the race to become the battleground state’s next governor.