John Fetterman won the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday despite suffering a stroke just days before the election and struggling to win support among black voters who may have doubts about a candidate who held an innocent black jogger at gunpoint in 2013.
"Mr. Fetterman won by huge margins all across Pennsylvania, with one notable exception: Philadelphia," journalist Michael Sokolove wrote in the New York Times. "There, it was a close race against a third Democratic primary candidate, Malcolm Kenyatta, a city resident and the first black openly gay L.G.B.T.Q. member of the state legislature."
Indeed, the candidate revered by white progressives as one of the "coolest" politicians in America for his tattoos and cargo shorts barely won Philadelphia County, where roughly 44 percent of the population is black. Fetterman won just 36.8 percent of the vote, just ahead of Kenyatta at 33.1 percent.
Fetterman was trounced in the most heavily black sections of Philadelphia, according to Democratic data analyst Tom Bonier. "While Fetterman can certainly hold the Senate seat in PA, especially against a divided GOP, he clearly has work to do to win over black voters," Bonier wrote on Twitter. "In Ward 50 in Philly (>90% Black pop) he finished no better than a distant 3rd in each of the ward's 30 precincts."
In the precincts Bonier identified, Fetterman received an average of just 18.4 percent of the vote. That isn't very good, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis. Social media users weighed in to express dismay about Fetterman's victory in light of the racially charged vigilante incident in 2013, for which he has refused to apologize.
"I would like white Dems to ask themselves how they would feel knocking on doors in Philly & saying, ‘You gotta get out to vote for this guy even though he held a black man at gunpoint. Sorry!'" wrote liberal journalist Magdi Semrau.
Twitter user @2Raw2Real posted a video of a terrified black woman, screaming and in tears upon entering a haunted house, alongside the caption: "Black voters in Pennsylvania going to go vote for John Fetterman in November."
Fetterman will face the winner of the state's Republican Senate primary, which as of Wednesday was still too close to call. The Donald Trump-backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz currently holds a 0.2 percent lead over former Bush administration official David McCormick. The race is likely to be decided by an official recount.