Stroke Sidelines 'Big John' Fetterman Before Election Night

Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) / @JohnFettermanPA Facebook
May 16, 2022

Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman will miss his election night party on Tuesday after suffering a stroke caused by a blood clot in his heart.

Fetterman, Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, on Friday went to a hospital after not feeling well for several days, he said on Sunday. Fetterman said that doctors told him he suffered no cognitive damage and is on the way to a "full recovery." While Fetterman insisted he would be back on the campaign trail "sometime soon," his campaign revealed on Monday that he will remain at the hospital at least through the primary.

Fetterman's stroke explains why he missed campaign events on the eve of the primary election. Fetterman's campaign was initially vague about why he pulled out of events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, saying only that there was a medical situation.

The extended hospital stay means Fetterman will miss what is expected to be an election-night victory celebration. Fetterman has a massive polling lead in his primary race against Rep. Conor Lamb and state lawmaker Malcolm Kenyatta. Tens of thousands of early voters have already cast their ballots.

While Fetterman is widely expected to win the primary, the medical incident could be a factor in the general election. Fetterman, known as "Big John" because of his massive frame, has faced questions about his electability in the purple state. He has downplayed his support for left-wing politicians such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Fetterman has also faced questions over a 2013 incident in which he pulled a shotgun on an unarmed black jogger.

Fetterman's stroke is reminiscent of Sanders suffering a heart attack on the presidential campaign trail in 2019. Sanders, who at the time was 78 years old, spent four days in a hospital after experiencing chest pains.

The 52-year-old Fetterman is the third prominent Democrat to suffer a stroke in recent months. Senator Chris Van Hollen (Md.) announced Sunday that he suffered a stroke last week. Senator Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) spent weeks in the hospital after suffering a stroke on Jan. 27.