Democrat John Fetterman is taking political analysts by surprise as he rises in opinion polls for the Democratic Senate primary on May 17th. His largest competitor is Representative Conor Lamb, who is believed by many to have the best chance of beating republicans in the general election later this year. However, Fetterman’s casual attire could have something to do with his gaining popularity.
The 52-year-old leaves the traditional suit and tie at home, often opting for shorts and a hoodie, even once meeting President Biden in the same look. The public’s desire for a candidate that isn’t the typical stuffy politician bodes well for Fetterman’s popularity, especially among rural working-class Pennsylvanians. In the past, these areas of the state favored republican candidates including former President Trump.
In 1999, Fetterman attended Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and earned a Master of Public Policy. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance as well as an additional Master’s in Business Administration. From 2006 to 2019, he served as the Mayor of Braddock, a town in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburg. Since 2019 he has been serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.
Fetterman’s atypical political persona is not limited to his clothing or even his appearance. With a height of 6 feet 8 inches, he has tattooed on both arms and sports a goatee. In a blog post last year he addressed his appearance as being unusual, “ I do not look like a typical politician, nor do I look like a typical person. I don’t mean to look scary, it’s just kind of what I have to work with”. With over 420,000 followers on Twitter, Fetterman has also been able to show the public a more straightforward and impactful personality when addressing issues.
Fetterman supports a wide variety of progressive ideas, including universal healthcare and legalizing marijuana. Following the presidential election in 2020, he was involved in the accusations made by President Trump over voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Investigations found only 3 cases of voter fraud, cast in favor of Trump with two being cast by men on behalf of their deceased mothers. In a statement, Fetterman said he was happy to announce that Trump had received “100% of the dead mother vote”.
Pennsylvania’s Senate race is essential to the Democratic Party’s efforts to gain a majority in the Senate. Currently split 50-50, a democratic win in November’s election would give democrats a major advantage in the U.S. Senate. If Fetterman successfully wins the primary election, this political edge for the party will fall on his shoulders.