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In keeping with his campaign's "Every County, Every Vote" strategy, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman took his progressive message deep into conservative counties this weekend, making his case to voters he knows he'll need for a victorious finish in November.

Fetterman, who is also Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, spoke to a crowd of nearly 500 people at the Hickory VFW Normandy banquet hall in Hermitage—the seat of deeply red Mercer County—on Sunday.

"Do you think Dr. Oz could get over 400 people out in Mercer County on a Sunday afternoon? Dr. Oz didn't even know that Mercer County existed a year ago," Fetterman told the crowd, referring to his Republican opponent, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, whom he leads by double digits in most polling.

"I'll always fight for Mercer County," Fetterman vowed. "Mercer County isn't a place many Democrats go to, but that doesn't change our approach. Showing up and competing in places like Mercer and Venango, and all of the other counties in between, is the secret to winning as a Democrat in Pennsylvania."

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump won Mercer County by 26 points in the 2020 election. Trump carried neighboring Venango County by 41 points.

Local resident Debra Kaluzne waited for more than an hour in 90-degree heat to be the first in line at Sunday's rally. Wearing a shirt emblazoned with "1973"—the year of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that established federal abortion rights—Kaluzne told The Sharon Herald that for her, the election is "mostly... about pro-choice."

Referring to the reproductive freedom recently revoked by the high court's right-wing supermajority, Kaluzne said that "I fought for this 50 years ago. I think the generations behind us took a lot of things for granted."

Another supporter, Hermitage resident Genevieve Monks, told WKBN, "I'm 75 years old, I've never volunteered so much for an election as I am now."

Crossposted from CommonDreams