It’s being dubbed “the race of the year” and even “the Senate campaign of the decade.”
Four months before Pennsylvanians elect a successor to retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, the state and national media are beginning to focus on the star-studded contest between self-styled blue-collar hero and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and conservative Republican and television star Dr. Mehmet Oz.
A mid-July survey of likely Keystone State voters conducted by the PEM Management Corporation showed easy primary victor Fetterman with a lead of 44% to 38% over Dr. Oz (who had won the second-closest statewide primary in Pennsylvania history by 800 votes out of one million cast.)
In the six weeks since that poll, Fetterman — having made one appearance after his primary win following a more-serious-than-reported stroke — has conducted a campaign almost exclusively through social media.
Using Twitter, Facebook and their sister media, the Democrat has slammed Oz as “Doc Hollywood,” mocking his celebrity persona and condemning his support from Donald Trump.
The Democrat’s fans in the press rarely mention that Fetterman sports a record so radical on issues from abortion to energy to immigration to decriminalizing marijuana that, as veteran Pennsylvania conservative activist Lowman Henry put it, “John Fetterman is so far to the left he makes Bernie Sanders look like Ted Cruz.”
Henry, top organizer of the annual conservative Pennsylvania Leadership Conference (PLC), told Newsmax that “Fetterman is so far out of the main stream I don’t think he can be all that competitive in Pennsylvania.”
Fetterman, in fact, was an early booster of Bernie Sanders for president in 2016 and 2020 and has said on the campaign trail, “What Bernie wants to do for the United States, I want to do here in Pennsylvania.”
Sanders, in turn, hailed Fetterman in 2018 as “an outstanding progressive leader” who “stood with the working families of the state as he advocated for a $15 per hour minimum wage, Medicare for all, marriage equality and ending the failed war on drugs. He has been an outspoken defender of women’s health, immigrant rights, racial justice and LGBTQ equality.”
When he was a presidential hopeful in 2016 and ‘20, the Vermont senator vigorously called for the end of fracking — the process of injecting water deep into the ground to crack rock, which allows more oil or natural gas to flow and has made Pennsylvania’s energy economy boom.
Fetterman in 2016 took the Sanders line on fracking and signed a pledge to ban the practice, which is now a growing source of job creation and revenue for Pennsylvanians.
Fracking was, in Fetterman’s words, “a stain on our state and our natural resources.”
As a Senate candidate this year, however, Fetterman has walked back his earlier pledge and indicated he now supports fracking — albeit with some government restrictions.
[But] when it comes to fracking, he said, “We can’t just throw [out] all of these union jobs and all these workers’ jobs and say, ‘Well, just go learn to code and maybe you can get on at Google or someplace.”
Along with embracing Sanders’ agenda, Fetterman has made no secret of his agreement with New York’s Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez (“AOC”) on a punitively anti-business energy agenda.
He has endorsed the multi-billion dollar Green New Deal championed by AOC and the others in the far-left “Squad” in the House.
Fetterman also said President Biden made the “right call” in canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Fetterman weighed in behind fellow Democrat and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021 budget which included a “6.5% severance tax on natural gas.”
In blessing Wolf’s budget, which would have increased their state’s taxes by $6 billion per year, Fetterman maintains a pattern of embracing major taxing and spending initiatives.
He was an early backer of President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) and on December 19, 2021, he tweeted a shot at fellow Democrat and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for not supporting BBB and thus “tanking the president’s agenda.”
If Fetterman was in the Senate, he tweeted last October 28, BBB would still include “Paid Family Leave, Medicare lowering the price of the prescription drugs, and Reversing the Trump tax cuts.”
To no one’s surprise, the Pennsylvanian joins Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in supporting a “wealth tax” on America on the nation’s highest wage-earners.
In terms of social issues, Fetterman doesn’t flinch. He is easily one of the most extreme Democrats on the abortion issue anywhere in the nation.
During a debate among Democratic Senate hopefuls last year, Fetterman came out against any limits on abortion before birth and, on November 1, 2021, he promised to vote to end the filibuster so the Senate could pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (which would prevent states from implementing any restrictions on abortion).
The Pennsylvanian has also been a longtime champion of legalizing marijuana, but also favors decriminalizing more serious drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and opioids.
“I’m pro-legalizing marijuana, but I go even further than some of my colleagues,” Fetterman told The Nation on September 25, 2015, “Because I’m for decriminalizing across the board. I see it as a public-health issue, not a criminal issue.”
As for prisons, he summarized his philosophy succinctly: “I’m trying to get as many folks out as possible.” (April 16, 2021).
Fetterman, who doubles as chairman of the state parole board, supports releasing one-third of prison inmates and cited the state corrections secretary as saying that doing so would “not make anyone less safe.”
He also favors eliminating life sentences for murderers (Penn Capital Star, June 1, 2021) and once criticized a judge for setting bail too high for rioters whose crime was vandalizing businesses, setting fires, and damaging a police station in Lancaster County (The Independent, September 17, 2020).
To no one’s surprise, Fetterman endorsed Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, on whose watch homicides rose in the city by 40% from 2019-20.
As on so many other issues, Fetterman on illegal immigration goes beyond the normal liberal Democratic line.
In denouncing President Trump’s anti-illegal immigration agenda, the lieutenant governor also took a whack at Barack Obama’s policies on the issue, reminding voters that the 44th president “deported well over 2 million souls.”
The most recent example of Fetterman’s unfiltered far-left agenda was his support of biological men participating in women’s sports.
Asked during a televised debate with his Democratic primary opponents earlier this year whether he believed “transgender women should be allowed to play on women’s sports teams at the youth through college level,” Fetterman responded without hesitation: “Yes.”
At 52, Fetterman is a familiar fixture on the Pennsylvania political scene.
Abjuring a tie (except when he presides over the state senate and observes its dress code), the lieutenant governor is usually seen in a jersey, jeans, sneakers—all of which complement his “everyman” way of speaking and tweeting and his persona as a blue collar hero.
But working-class Pennsylvanians may be surprised to learn that their hero is the holder of a Master’s Degree from Harvard and son of a wealthy insurance company owner.
Fetterman’s father, in fact, supported him for many years after college and, in 2015 (when he was 46), the then-mayor of Braddock, Pa., disclosed that he and his wife received $54,000 from his parents.
Looking at the Real Clear average showing Fetterman with only a 4-point lead statewide over Oz, G. Terry Madonna, the premier pollster in Pennsylvania, thinks that “it’s too soon to know how it will turn out.”
Oz is clearly closing the gap and close to a dead heat, but Lowman Henry said that stopping “Senator Fetterman, D-Pa.,” depends entirely upon Oz getting the word out on just who his opponent is and what he stands for.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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