By Jarrett Renshaw
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, the leading Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in the state, will skip his election night party on Tuesday as he recovers in a hospital from a stroke suffered during the final days of the campaign.
Fetterman's Pittsburgh rally will proceed without him "as he will remain in the hospital resting and recovering," his campaign said in a statement on Monday. His wife, Gisele Fetterman, and other guests, will make remarks in his absence, it said.
Pennsylvania offers Democrats one of their best chances of picking up a Senate seat currently held by a Republican - the retiring Patrick Toomey - as they seek to retain their razor-thin majority in the chamber in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Fetterman's health scare has shaken his campaign and the party.
Fetterman, who will face centrist U.S. Representative Conor Lamb and two other Democrats on Tuesday, said in a statement issued on Sunday from Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital that he suffered the stroke on Friday.
Fetterman, 52, has surged in opinion polls ahead of Tuesday's primary, surprising political observers who had predicted a close contest with Lamb.
Fetterman said he had not been feeling well but ignored his symptoms until his wife insisted he go to a hospital. Fetterman said in his statement on Sunday that he was "feeling much better" and suffered no cognitive damage.
"I'm well on my way to a full recovery," Fetterman said. "They're keeping me here for now for observation, but I should be out of here sometime soon."
The Democratic nominee will face a Republican opponent who also is set to be chosen on Tuesday. The Republican primary is a close race pitting Mehmet Oz, a television wellness celebrity backed by former President Donald Trump, against David McCormick, a wealthy former hedge fund CEO, and Kathy Barnette, a conservative commentator.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)