By Grace Fulton and Becca Dixon
BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. – The final days of the most-watched races in the 2022 midterms are being fought in the Philadelphia suburbs, and Republican voters are making their voices heard.
At a combination Democratic event with the gubernatorial ticket of Josh Shapiro and Austin Davis and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, prospective voters from all parties heard directly from the candidates as Election Day neared.
Fetterman, Shapiro and Davis all focused on imprinting the importance of Tuesday’s election. Shapiro challenged the rhetoric regarding freedom deployed by Doug Mastriano.
“He loves to talk a big game about freedom,” Shapiro said. “But it’s not freedom to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her body.”
While the issue of abortion has emerged as among the most influential on the national platform in the run-up to the midterm elections, local concerns and relationships are top of mind for many Pennsylvania voters.
Not all attendees were there in support of the Democratic ticket and speaker line up. A group of counter protesters were at the entrance to the parking lot and outside the security checkpoint, with signs that conveyed the issues before people head to the polls.
The critique of Fetterman and Shapiro’s respective records on crime were consistent among those standing outside the event, regardless of age. Brielle McNair, a 19-year-old former Bucks County Community College student, said that rising crime was among the chief issues on the ballot, and Republicans Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz were the prime candidates to combat these issues.
“Crime is a big issue here, and I believe that Dr. Oz is the perfect candidate for Pennsylvania because he’s gonna make a difference,” she said. “He’s a genuine person, and I believe he is going to make Pennsylvania the greatest state in the country,” said McNair.
At Mastriano’s final rally of the campaign in Montgomery County, a line of attendees stretched around the building and through a full parking lot. Across the street, two Democrat counter-protesters held signs and walked along the grass.
Michael McDermott attended Mastriano’s final rally of the campaign. He described himself as an independent, voting not for Republicans but against problems affecting his community, such as high gas prices, critical race theory and inflation.
“True critical thinking is seeing both sides, looking at all of the information and seeing the good in things even if there is nothing good,” he said.
McDermott, 54, was also concerned about the increasingly polarized political environment. “The Democrats are all hatred and fear, the negative rhetoric is exhausting,” he said.
For both parties, the Philadelphia suburbs continue to dominate candidate attention and may be the deciding area to watch as the votes are counted.