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Will A Frontrunner’s Stroke Bring Chaos To Key Dem Primary?

Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman suffered a stroke the weekend before his primary for the state’s open Senate seat, raising questions about how the development will affect the final vote.

He has long been considered the frontrunner of the Democratic primary, with a 31-point polling average over his next closest competitor on RealClearPolitics. J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told The Daily Caller News Foundation it’s unlikely his stroke will erode the lead.

“Fetterman as the Lieutenant Governor, I think he just had more name recognition or visibility than his main opponent,” Coleman told TheDCNF. “Fetterman is the frontrunner … I don’t really see that changing.”

Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb, a moderate, has been the consistent second-place finisher in polling and was expected to be the nominee at the beginning of the election cycle, Coleman said. Despite this, he does not see Lamb taking the lead following Fetterman’s stroke.

“The last stretch of the campaign, I know Lamb has gone dark. He’s not advertising,” Coleman said. He added Fetterman might come away with a plurality, as opposed to a majority, because of the stroke, but did not see a loss as likely.

The lieutenant governor released a press statement on Sunday acknowledging he had been diagnosed with a stroke after going to the hospital.

“On Friday, I wasn’t feeling well, so I went to the hospital to get checked out,” the statement said. “I had a stroke that was caused by a clot from my heart being in an A-fib rhythm for too long.”

“The good news is I’m feeling much better, and the doctors tell me I didn’t suffer any cognitive damage. I’m well on my way to a full recovery,” it said. “The doctors have assured me that I’ll be able to get back on the trail, but first I need to take a minute, get some rest, and recover.”

Fetterman will still be in the hospital during election night Tuesday, according to National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar. His wife, Gisele, will deliver remarks instead.

“I just found out on live TV that Lieutenant Governor Fetterman suffered a stroke,” Lamb tweeted Sunday. “Hayley and I are keeping John and his family in our prayers and wishing him a full and speedy recovery.”

The stroke is more likely to come into play during the general election, should Fetterman win the primary, Coleman said. He warned, however, that Republicans need to be careful in going after an opponent’s health.

“Sometimes, these health issues … can generate some sympathy,” he told TheDCNF. “You have to be subtle.”

Neither Fetterman nor Lamb immediately returned TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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