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Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman, legalization champion, suffers minor stroke days before primary

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the leading Democrat in the state’s top Senate contest, suffered a stroke just days before the primary election but was on the verge of “recovering completely,” his campaign staff said on Sunday.

“The good news is that I feel better, and the doctors tell me that I haven’t suffered any cognitive damage.”

– Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman

Fetterman, 52, who confirmed he had been hospitalized all weekend, insisted the health emergency was not slowing down his campaign. But the stunning revelation, two days before the Pennsylvania primary, has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the Democratic front-runner’s candidacy in what could be one of the party’s best Senate pickup opportunities.

In a 16-second video released by his campaign, a seated, clearly speaking Fetterman explained that he “just wasn’t feeling very well” on Friday and decided to go to the hospital at his wife’s request. . He detailed the situation in more detail in a written statement.

“I had a stroke that was caused by a clot from my heart being in an A-fib rhythm for too long,” Fetterman said. He said doctors managed to remove the clot, “reversing the stroke” and bring his heart under control.

“The good news is that I feel much better, and the doctors tell me that I have not suffered any cognitive damage,” he said in the statement.


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Over the past two years, Fetterman has become one of the leading advocates for cannabis legalization in the United States. He has come under fire from political opponents for raising a cannabis flag from the lieutenant governor’s office in the state capitol building in Harrisburg. Fetterman celebrated 4/20 in 2021 by participating in a rally for the legalization of adult use on the steps of the Statehouse.

Events canceled on weekends

Questions about Fetterman’s health swirled throughout the weekend after he canceled scheduled public appearances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. His campaign cited a health issue but was not specific until Sunday.

Fetterman did not say how long he would still be in the hospital.

“They are keeping me here for observation for now, but I should be out of here soon,” he said in the statement. “The doctors have assured me that I will be able to get back on track, but first I have to take a minute, rest and recover.”

Thousands of early votes have already been cast in the race, though Pennsylvania Democrats will finalize their general election nominee on Tuesday from a four-person group that includes Fetterman, three-term U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta State.


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Fetterman leads in Senate primary

Fetterman is the heavy favorite. He led the polls and fundraising from the start, even as the party establishment rallied behind Lamb. Despite such support, Lamb struggled to reach voters or even break into Fetterman’s position with primary voters.

Lamb tweeted that he was conducting a television interview when he learned of Fetterman’s stroke.

“Hayley and I keep John and his family in our prayers and wish him a full and speedy recovery,” Lamb wrote.

Kenyatta called Fetterman an “incredible family man”. “My prayers are with him and his family as he recovers from this stroke,” he tweeted. “I look forward to seeing him again soon on the campaign trail.”

And on the Republican side, Senate GOP hopeful Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon, said he has experience treating Fetterman’s condition.

“I’ve treated patients with atrial fibrillation and witnessed the miracles of modern medicine in treating strokes, so I’m grateful you received care so quickly,” Oz tweeted. “My whole family is praying for your speedy recovery.”

Heart disease under control

Fetterman’s heart disease, atrial fibrillation, occurs when the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, become out of sync with the pumping action of the lower chambers. Sometimes patients experience a pounding heartbeat or a racing heartbeat, but often they are unaware of an episode.

A-fib is more common in older people, and other risks include high blood pressure or a family history of arrhythmias. It causes 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations a year in the United States

Fetterman, who is 6-foot-8, has been open about his weight loss efforts in the past. He weighed over 400 pounds before losing nearly 150 pounds in 2018.

His towering stature was a big part of his political appeal.

The former western Pennsylvania mayor has tattoos on his arms, a clean-shaven head and a goatee. He swears on social media and wears shorts practically everywhere, even in winter.

He promised to move forward on Sunday despite the health setback.

“Our campaign isn’t slowing down at all, and we’re still on track to win that primary on Tuesday and flip that Senate seat in November,” he said. “Thank you for all the support, and please come out and vote.”

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