After months of “will he, won’t he,” Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has officially made a step towards running for U.S. Senate in 2022
In a series of tweets on Friday, Fetterman, an Allegheny County Democrat, said that “Pennsylvania needs a United States Senator that knows” that the “union way of life is sacred,” that health care is a human right, and that “Forgotten communities + neighborhoods must be rebuilt.”
Every one of PA’s 67 counties matter.
Forgotten communities + neighborhoods must be rebuilt.
2nd Chances + redemption + reimagining criminal justice reform.
Legal Weed for USA + ending the War on Drugs.
Pennsylvania needs a United States Senator that knows this is True too.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) January 8, 2021
Fetterman, identifiable for his height, informal outfits and tattoos, has slowly built national clout over the past few years.
A south-central Pennsylvania native, he attended Harvard University and served as a wrestling stand-in before ending up in Braddock, an industrial borough of a few thousand residents southeast of Pittsburgh.
Elected mayor in 2005, he starred in a Levi’s commercial and used national media to tout Braddock, and build his own political stature.
He ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2016, claiming the mantle of progressivism, coming in third but showing promise.
He then challenged scandal-prone incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Stack in the 2018 Democratic primary, winning in a multi-way race by carrying the western half of the state.
In office, he’s used the little-noticed office as a bully pulpit for cannabis legalization, criminal justice reform, and to aid the Senate’s Democratic minority in messy procedural floor fights over eliminating cash assistance for vulnerable citizens or, just this week, the seating of a Democratic senator.
Fetterman’s status has skyrocketed in recent months, however, due to frequent media appearances defending Pennsylvania’s election results and advocating for Democratic outreach to its working class roots.
That’s led to positions that run against his progressive image, such as defending the natural gas industry.
Fetterman’s announcement likely clears the way for Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro to run without an obvious challenger for the Democratic gubernatorial nod next year.
Both a seat representing Pennsylvania in the upper chamber of Congress, as well as the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg, will be open with no incumbent.
Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, of Lehigh County, announced he is retiring from politics, and term limits restrict Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf from running again.