By Candy Woodall
Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau
via Beaver County Times
Feb 8, 2021 – Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Monday officially entered the 2022 U.S. Senate race, vying for a hotly contested seat that could determine the chamber’s balance of power in the midterms.
The formal bid comes after Fetterman raised more than a $1 million in less than a month after he said he was eyeing a run.
“Thank you to all 35,000 of the folks who chipped in a few dollars and encouraged me to run for Senate, today I am excited to announce that I am running, and I am glad to have the support of people in all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties,” Fetterman, 51, said in a statement Monday.
He is running for a seat that will be left vacant by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, RLehigh Valley, who is retiring upon a selfimposed term limit.
Analysts say it’s the top U.S. Senate race to watch in the 2022 midterms.
“The sole tossup Senate race to start the 2022 cycle is Pennsylvania,” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the nonpartisan newsletter at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
The U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the most expensive in the country and could eclipse the $164 million spent in 2016 when Toomey was challenged by Democrat Katie McGinty.
McGinty defeated Fetterman in the 2016 Democratic primary.
A rising profile for Fetterman
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman went on a tour of all 67 Pennsylvania counties to get feedback from residents on recreational marijuana legalization. He is in favor of legalizing the drug.
At the time, he was mostly known in western Pennsylvania, where he was the mayor of Braddock, an old, bluecollar industrial town Fetterman was working to rehabilitate.
Since then, Fetterman has become better known to voters statewide after running a successful campaign to become Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor in 2018. He was also a frequent guest on national news programs during the pandemic and 2020 presidential election, and he has built a robust social media following.
Fetterman frequently champions higher wages, legalizing recreational marijuana, LGBTQIA rights, expanding healthcare, environmental concerns and more.
In his announcement Monday, he committed to that platform again.
“I’m running for the United States Senate for the same reason I ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2018 and Mayor of Braddock 16 years ago, because I believe in a set of core truths,” Fetterman said.
“I believe in the dignity of work and the dignity of a paycheck. I believe the union way of life is sacred. I believe in healthcare as a fundamental, basic human right. I believe in environmental justice, I believe our criminal justice system needs a significant overhaul.
I believe that the war on drugs needs to stop and we need to legalize marijuana across this country. I believe that the LGBTQIA community deserves the same rights and protections that the rest of us enjoy in this country.
I believe that every community and every county in Pennsylvania is worth fighting for. As a member of the United States Senate, I will never stop fighting for these core values and these communities, just as I have for the last 20 years.”
Who else is running for Senate?
Other Pennsylvania Democrats who have been discussed as potential candidates in the race include U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle, Matt Cartwright, Ryan Costello, Chrissy Houlahan and Conor Lamb; Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, state Rep. Malcom Kenyatta and state Sen. Sharif Street.
Republican frontrunners include state Sens. Carmera Bartolotta and Doug Mastriano, businessman Paul Mango and several congressmen who last month voted to decertify Pennsylvania’s election results.
Fetterman is the only candidate among those potential contenders to have won a statewide election.
He visited all 67 counties as lieutenant governor and in a message Monday called for unifying a division in the state.
“It’s not rural versus urban, it’s rural and urban,” Fetterman said. “I’m going to fight not for one part of Pennsylvania, not for one party of Pennsylvania, but for one Pennsylvania.”
Most candidates — especially Democrats — campaign in the highest population centers in Pennsylvania, such as Philadelphia and its suburbs, and Pittsburgh.
Fetterman indicated he would pay attention to the small towns, too.
“These places across Pennsylvania feel left behind. They don’t feel part of the conversation,” Fetterman said.
“That’s why Donald Trump went to these small counties and held these big rallies. We cannot afford to take any vote for granted, we cannot afford to take any place for granted.”
More:Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman exploring a run for U.S. Senate in 2022
More:Fetterman after being removed from Pa. Senate: ‘There’s a sickness in our democracy’
Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at 7174801783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.