PITTSBURGH — Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, was discharged Sunday from the Lancaster hospital where he had been staying since suffering a stroke earlier this month.
In a statement late Sunday morning, Fetterman, 52, said he was “feeling great” but would spend the coming days resting at home on the advice of his doctors (and his wife, Gisele Fetterman). He said he will make a follow-up visit to Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital later in the week.
“I could not be happier to finally be heading home to be with my family. … I want to take a moment and thank everyone; Gisele, myself, and the kids have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from folks across the commonwealth,” Fetterman said.
Gisele Fetterman tweeted a video Sunday morning of her husband flashing a wide grin and a double thumbs-up while walking out of the hospital.
Fetterman campaign’s announced May 15 — just days before the Democratic primary, which he proceeded to win in a landslide — that he had been admitted to the hospital two days earlier, on May 13. He said at the time that he hadn’t been feeling well and went to the hospital on his wife’s advice to get checked out.
He “had a stroke that was caused by a clot from my heart being in an (atrial fibrillation) rhythm for too long,” the campaign statement said on May 15.
Atrial fibrillation is “an irregular, often very fast heartbeat,” according to the Mayo Clinic. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a research agency within the National Institutes of Health, says atrial fibrillation “increases an individual’s risk of stroke by four to six times on average.”
Fetterman added that he was feeling better and doctors told him he didn’t suffer any cognitive damage.
“I’m well on my way to a full recovery,” Fetterman said in the May 15 announcement.
Two days later — as Pennsylvanians headed to the polls — he cast his own vote via emergency absentee ballot, then underwent surgery to have a pacemaker installed. His campaign said the surgery was successful and would “protect his heart and address the underlying cause of his stroke.”
While Fetterman recovered, Democratic voters in Pennsylvania handed him a resounding victory in the U.S. Senate primary: He carried all 67 counties in Pennsylvania and won 58.9% of the vote, getting more than two votes for every one that second-place finisher Conor Lamb received.
Lamb, who left his seat in the House of Representatives to run for Senate, wound up with 26.3% of the vote. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was third with 10.8%, and Jenkintown Borough Councilwoman Alex Khalil was fourth with 4.2%.
With her husband in the hospital, Gisele Fetterman stepped into the limelight in his stead, headlining his election night party at the Hyatt on the campus of Pittsburgh International Airport.
“You may have noticed I am not John Fetterman, the next senator of our great state,” she joked Tuesday night to cheers from supporters in attendance.
In November’s general election for U.S. Senate — a race that is already one of the most watched across the nation — Fetterman will face either celebrity surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz or former hedge fund executive David McCormick. The current seat-holder, Republican Pat Toomey, is retiring when his second term expires in 2023.
McCormick and Oz are locked in a neck-and-neck battle for the Republican nomination that remains too close to call. The two leaders are separated by barely a thousand votes out of the 1.3 million-plus recorded thus far, or about 0.08%.
That’s well within the requirements for an automatic statewide recount. Results within a 0.5% margin are required to go for a statewide recount, which the Pennsylvania Department of State will need to announce later this week. Such a recount would need to be completed by June 8, according to the state election code, meaning it may be weeks until Fetterman learns whom his opponent will be.
The Associated Press, which is the official source the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and most media outlets use to call election winners, said Friday it would not be making a call in the race.
Former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz over McCormick, urged Oz on Wednesday to simply “declare victory” before all the votes were tallied. Meanwhile, both the McCormick and Oz campaigns are already planning for a recount and have hired recount experts and strategists from Washington and Philadelphia.
(Post-Gazette staff writers Gillian McGoldrick and Julian Routh contributed to this report.)