John Fetterman, the towering, tattooed mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, is running for state office again. Fetterman, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year, is now gunning for the post of lieutenant governor in 2018.
He sat down with reporters Wednesday at the Down Home Diner in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market to explain why he’d want to hold an office with so little real authority.
“If I’m lucky enough to be elected, I’m able to be a solid progressive backstop for Pennsylvania, for Gov. Wolf,” he said. “It provides a statewide platform to advocate for the progressive issues I care about – a living wage, marijuana legalization, immigration, and community policing.”
And, he said, he can position himself for a possible run against Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in 2022.
Fetterman lost the Democratic primary for Senate last year to Katie McGinty, who lost narrowly to Toomey.
A path, but not a clear one
Fetterman made an impression last year, and he has a real shot at the office in a multi-candidate field. But he’ll have competition.
Incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Stack is running for re-election. He was embarrassed over the past year by stories of his family mistreating staff at the lieutenant governor’s residence, as well as spending heavily on travel and perks.
Marty Marks, a spokesman for Stack’s campaign, said Stack respects Fetterman, but that Stack has far more experience in state government — 14 years in the state Senate and his service as lieutenant governor, which Marks said has “earned great respect throughout the state.”
Marks cited Stack’s work overhauling the Board of Pardons.
Fetterman, who wears work shirts instead of suits, said he won’t run a negative campaign, but if elected he won’t move into the official residence at Fort Indiantown Gap. He said he’d keep his home in Braddock, a former steel town in western Pennsylvania.
If my campaign and my passions are about these kinds of forgotten places I would look pretty absurd living in a stone mansion with a gardener,” Fetterman said.
Montgomery County state Rep. Madeleine Dean has indicated she may enter the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.
Other announced candidates are western Pennsylvania activist Aryanna Berringer and Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.
In Pennsylvania, the races for governor and lieutenant governor are separate, and gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates generally don’t run as a ticket in primaries.
A spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf’s campaign said he would have no comment on Braddock’s announcement.