HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the leading Democrat in the state’s high-profile Senate contest, has suffered a stroke but is on his way to a “full recovery,” his campaign said on Sunday.
Fetterman, 52, said in a statement that he wasn’t feeling well Friday and went to the hospital at the urging of his wife.
“I had a stroke that was caused by a clot from my heart being in an A-fib rhythm for too long,” Fetterman said in a statement. He said the doctors were able to remove the clot, “reversing the stroke,” and got his heart under control.
“The good news is I’m feeling much better, and the doctors tell me I didn’t suffer any cognitive damage,” he says in the statement.
The stunning revelation, which comes just two days before Pennsylvania’s primary election, creates deep uncertainty for Democrats in a state that represents one of their best Senate pickup opportunities in the nation.
Fetterman said he will stay in the race.
“Our campaign isn’t slowing down one bit, and we are still on track to win this primary on Tuesday, and flip this Senate seat in November,” the statement said. “Thanks for all the support, and please get out there and vote.”
Questions about Fetterman health swirled throughout the weekend after he canceled scheduled public appearances Friday, Saturday and Sunday. His campaign cited a health issue, but was not specific until Sunday.
While thousands of early votes have already been cast, Pennsylvania Democrats on Tuesday will pick their general election nominee from a four-person field that features Fetterman, three-term Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.
Fetterman is the strong favorite. He has led polls and fundraising from the start, even as the party’s establishment rallied around Lamb. Despite such support, Lamb struggled to reach voters or even pierce Fetterman’s rock-solid standing with primary voters.
Fetterman, who is 6-foot-8, has been open about his push to lose weight in the past. He weighed in at over 400 pounds before losing nearly 150 pounds in 2018.
His imposing stature has been a big part of his political appeal.
The former western Pennsylvania mayor has tattoos down his arms, a clean-shaven head and a goatee. He cusses on social media and wears shorts practically everywhere, even in the winter.