In PGH, John Fetterman rallies the base in U.S. Senate race’s closing hours

‘The guys we’re running against, they’re not going to work for us,’ Democratic congressional hopeful Chris Deluzio said

By: - November 8, 2022 12:02 am

In Pittsburgh, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman thanks supporters during an Election Day Eve rally on Monday, 11/7/22 (Capital-Star photo by Ethan Dodd).

PITTSBURGH – On Election Day Eve, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman returned home to western Pennsylvania, rallying the base, and reminding them of the “stark choice” they will face at the polls on Tuesday.

“Almost two years ago today, John launched his campaign from our home in Braddock,” Fetterman’s wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman said on Monday night, marking this as “Day 637 of a 638 day campaign.”

Fetterman was joined by Democratic 17th Congressional District candidate Chris Deluzio, who harkened back to the Steel City’s roots in organized labor, and the role that union workers have played in shaping the region’s politics.

“This is a union town,” Deluzio said. “Let’s talk about western Pennsylvania values, the ones I learned that I know John knows: hard work, service, solidarity.”

Fetterman faces Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, the Trump-endorsed celebrity physician, while Deluzio will square off against businessman Jeremy Shaffer. The Senate contest could determine the balance of power in the upper chamber in 2023.

Speaking to a crowd of about 300 people in a union hall, Deluzio drew contrasts between the Democrats and their opponents.

“The guys we’re running against, they’re not going to work for us. These guys don’t care about us,” he said, calling Shaffer “a corporate executive who’s made millions coddling China, Saudi Arabia” and Oz a “snake oil salesman.” 

“That’s a strong statement that I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying,” Joel Nagorski, the senior council representative for the Pittsburgh area of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, told the Capital-Star, referring to a derogatory term Deluzio used to describe the Republican candidates.

“We’re about the middle class making a fair wage, and protecting our way of living,” he said, adding, “We’re pro-infrastructure, pro-building and construction.”

In July, the Council endorsed Fetterman, who supports the PRO Act to strengthen unions and weaken so-called “right to work” laws, though Nagorski noted, “It’s fair to say that a piece of our membership will not support some of the candidates we support.”

“It’s very relatable to see a man in a hoodie in politics for a working-class person than it is to see a man in the suit,” said commercial carpenter and council representative Jesse DeMino, who met Fetterman, then the borough’s mayor, when DeMino was roofing in Braddock.

“He appreciated what we were doing … and actually made sure that we always had water,” he said.

“Maybe he wasn’t a union worker. Maybe he didn’t work from the factory,” Sam McPherson, a commercial floor-layer and third-generation union worker, said. “He knows what the union way of life is, because he was here in the Mon Valley, where I grew up.”

Fetterman took the stage in his traditional hoodie, thanking the crowd for their support over the past two years.

“There is a stark choice about tomorrow,” he said. Fetterman contrasted his “career of serving” with Oz “who’s spent $27 million of his own money to buy this city.”

Reminding the crowd of his stroke, which still causes the Democratic nominee  auditory processing issues after five months of recovery, Fetterman said, “I did got knocked down, but I did get back up.”

“That is the essence of this campaign,” he said.

“The city has been beaten down, just like he said in his speech, time after time. The steel workers then nothing else,” McPherson said. “Here we are still with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Eastern United States. It’s about the union way of life.”

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Ethan Dodd
Ethan Dodd

Correspondent Ethan Dodd covers western Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Follow him on Twitter @ethandasaxman.