John Fetterman

  (Redirected from John Fetterman (politician))

John Karl Fetterman (born August 15, 1969) is an American politician serving as the 34th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as Mayor of Braddock from 2005 to 2019.[1] Fetterman was a candidate in the United States Senate election in Pennsylvania for 2016 and is running again in 2022.

John Fetterman
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Portrait (46874790005).jpg
34th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Assumed office
January 15, 2019
GovernorTom Wolf
Preceded byMike Stack
Mayor of Braddock
In office
January 2, 2006 – January 8, 2019
Preceded byPauline Abdullah
Succeeded byChardaé Jones
Personal details
BornJohn Karl Fetterman
(1969-08-15) August 15, 1969 (age 52)
West Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 2008)
EducationAlbright College (BA)
University of Connecticut (MBA)
Harvard University (MPP)
WebsiteGovernment website Campaign website

Early life and educationEdit

Fetterman was born in 1969 at Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pennsylvania, to Karl and Susan Fetterman.[2] Fetterman has described his parents as having started out "extremely poor," with both being teenagers at the time of John's birth.[3] They eventually moved to York, Pennsylvania, where John grew up and his father achieved success as an insurance business owner.[4][5]

Fetterman has described his upbringing as middle class and "privileged," saying he "sleepwalked" through his young adulthood, avidly playing four years of football in college and intending to eventually take over as owner of his father's business.[4] In 1991 Fetterman graduated from Albright College, also his father's alma mater, with a bachelor's degree in finance and was on his way to earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Connecticut.[6] However, his life took a drastic change after his best friend died in a car accident on his way to drive Fetterman from the gym.[7] That brush with death gave Fetterman a sense of his own mortality and a need to, within his capacity, help make his world a better place.[7]

Fetterman in 2009

Following his friend's death, Fetterman joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, pairing with an eight-year-old boy in New Haven, Connecticut, whose father had died from AIDS, and whose mother was slowly dying from the disease.[8] During his time as a Big Brother, Fetterman says he became "preoccupied with the concept of the random lottery of birth," and promised the boy's mother he would continue to look out for her son after she was gone.[9] Afterwards, in 1995, Fetterman joined the recently founded AmeriCorps, and was sent to teach Pittsburgh students pursuing their GEDs.[10] For two years Fetterman worked in Pittsburgh before attending Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, graduating in 1999 with a Master of Public Policy.[11]


Fetterman came to Braddock in 2001 to serve with AmeriCorps, helping local youth who had left school to earn their GED, later moving there in 2004.[12] Attracted by what he called the town's "malignant beauty", Fetterman ran against the incumbent mayor in 2005 and won the Democratic primary by a single vote.[13][14] Fetterman won the general election;[15] he did not face a Republican opponent.[13] As the part-time mayor of Braddock, Fetterman earned $110.22 a month in 2007. His full-time job, directing the Out-Of-School-Youth program, paid around $30,000 annually.[16] In addition to his work with the program, Fetterman established strong relationships with the 16- to 24-year-old population, helping many in finding employment, and working with them with issues involving family, social agencies, and police. He also founded a nonprofit organization called Braddock Redux.[17]

Mayor of Braddock (2006–2019)Edit

Following his election, Fetterman initiated youth and art programs, created a community center, and tried to initiate development of the town's mostly ruined buildings and poor economy. With family money, Fetterman purchased the town's First Presbyterian Church before demolition for $50,000, living in the basement for several months.[18] He later purchased an adjacent warehouse for $2,000, placed two shipping containers on the roof for "extra living space" and moved in.[19][16] He has since purchased and renovated many additional houses and offered cheap, even free, rent. Fetterman has attracted many young artists to the town through cheap rent and starting various art exhibitions.[19] The town's "renaissance" has attracted individuals from cities such as Chicago and Portland, Oregon, drawn by the potential for development and growth.[20] Other programs include a two-acre organic urban farm, worked by teenagers of the Braddock Youth Project.[17]

Fetterman's commitment to the community of Braddock is shown with various tattoos. On his left arm are the numbers 15104 - Braddock's ZIP Code, and on the right, the dates of five murders that occurred in the town since he was elected mayor.[20] As mayor, Fetterman drew international attention for trying to revitalize the economy in Braddock, with an article in The New York Times, an appearance on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, as well as a Levi's jeans ad.

In order to help fund programs, Fetterman established relationships with local non-profit organizations, Allegheny County's economic development program, and county executive Dan Onorato.[17] Opposition to Fetterman's activities while mayor came from borough council president Jesse Brown. In March 2009, Brown ordered the borough's code enforcement officer to cite Fetterman for an occupancy permit violation for a building owned by Fetterman's non-profit organization. A judge later dismissed the complaint.[21]

In 2009, Fetterman was re-elected as mayor after winning the Democratic primary against Jayme Cox by a vote of 294 to 103.[22][23] He handily won the Democratic primaries in 2013 and 2017, and was unopposed in the general election.

On November 29, 2010, Fetterman was arrested and immediately released after refusing to leave the property of the U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh. Fetterman was protesting the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center controversial closure of Braddock Hospital, which was met with objections from the community.[24][25]

In January 2013, while mayor, Fetterman came under fire for allegedly pointing a shotgun at an unarmed black man in Braddock. After hearing what he and others thought was gunfire, Fetterman got in his truck and followed a jogger, Chris Miyares. Fetterman said he believed, he "did the right thing".[26] The incident was given renewed attention when Fetterman announced his campaign to replace retiring U.S. Senator Pat Toomey in 2022, with the jogger's ethnicity igniting questions over the possible discriminatory nature of the event.[27][28] A Republican candidate for Toomey's seat, writer Sean Parnell, tweeted about the incident, and Parnell's attack was retweeted by Donald Trump, Jr. In response to an inquiry launched by The New York Times, Fetterman defended himself and claimed Miyares was running in the direction of an elementary school, and that he made the decision to approach him with the firearm due to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurring the month prior.[27] Fetterman's campaign also said that when initiated the pursuit, and because the jogger was wearing a black sweatsuit and mask, he did not know the jogger's race or gender at the time of the incident.[27][28] Miyares, who is serving prison time for armed assault and kidnap, said what sounded like gunshots were bottle rockets set off by kids, though Fetterman said no fireworks debris had been found.[27] He added that Fetterman had "done far more good than that one bad act" and, "should not be defined by it," and hoped he would win the senate race.[29][27]

Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania (2019–present)Edit


On November 14, 2017, Fetterman announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, challenging, among others, incumbent Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack.[30] Fetterman was endorsed by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto,[30] Erin McClelland, Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district in 2014 and 2016, and former Pennsylvania Governor and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell.[31] On May 15, Fetterman won the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor.[32] Fetterman was a part of the Democratic ticket along with incumbent Governor Tom Wolf. On November 6, 2018, Wolf and Fetterman defeated the Republican ticket of Scott Wagner and Jeff Bartos in the general election.[33][34]


In November 2020, Fetterman received national press coverage for saying Donald Trump was "no different than any other random internet troll"[35] and that he "can sue a ham sandwich" in response to Trump threatening to file lawsuits in Pennsylvania alleging voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.[36]

The 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania was won by Joe Biden, who finished over 81 thousand votes ahead of Trump.[37] Trump's claims of voter fraud led to a challenge of the results and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a suit to overturn the results in Pennsylvania, among other states.[38] Paxton's case was joined by 18 other Republican Attorneys General from other states.[38] Supporting that effort, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick offered a reward of $1,000,000 to anyone who could prove a case of fraud in the affected states. Fetterman responded by certifying that Pennsylvania had discovered three cases of voter fraud: two men had cast ballots as their dead mothers (both for Trump) and another had voted on behalf of his son as well as himself (also for Trump). Fetterman said that his Texas counterpart needed to pay up, a million for each of these cases. He said he was proud to announce, that Trump "got 100% of the dead mother vote," in Pennsylvania.[39] Fetterman's lampooning of the alleged voting fraud that Trump supporters claimed had stolen the election for Biden got nationwide publicity.[39][40]

U.S. Senate campaignsEdit


Fetterman campaigning in Pittsburgh

On September 14, 2015, Fetterman announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Pat Toomey in the 2016 election.[41] His campaign was considered a longshot against two better-known candidates, Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Senate.[42] Fetterman was endorsed by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley,[43] former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer,[44] and the PennLive Editorial Board.[45]

Fetterman's campaign focused on progressive values and building support through grassroots movement, drawing comparisons to Bernie Sanders.[46] Fetterman was the only statewide Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania to endorse Sanders.[47] Though lacking statewide name recognition, having low campaign funds, and polling as low as 4% a week before the primary,[48] Fetterman was able to garner 20% of the primary vote. Katie McGinty who spent $4,312,688 on the primary and who was endorsed by Barack Obama and many U.S. senators, finished ahead of former congressman and admiral Joe Sestak, who raised $5,064,849, with Fetterman raising $798,981 and finishing third.[49][50] After the primary Fetterman campaigned on behalf of McGinty,[51] although Toomey ultimately defeated her, winning reelection.


In January 2021, Fetterman announced he was launching an exploratory committee for the 2022 U.S. Senate election in Pennsylvania.[52][53] On February 4, 2021, Fetterman filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission declaring his intention to run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey.[54][55] On February 8, 2021, he officially entered the U.S. Senate race.[56] Early polls have suggested that he is the frontrunner in the race, though many voters remain undecided.[57][58]


Fetterman's efforts to create youth-oriented programs, revitalize his town, and attract artists and other "creatives" to his community were featured in The New York Times.[59] An article about him, describing him as "America's coolest mayor", appeared on July 15, 2009, in The Guardian in the United Kingdom.[60]

Fetterman was the guest on the Colbert Report on February 25, 2009, discussing the economic difficulties his town faced due to a decreasing population, plummeting real estate values, and bankruptcy. He also questioned why funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 could not be used to support projects such as those in Braddock.[20] He appeared again on August 16, 2010, discussing what he had been doing and the town's partnership with Levi Strauss.

In 2010, Levi Strauss & Company donated money towards Braddock's revitalization and features the town in an advertising campaign and documentary produced by Sundance Channel.[61][62]

On May 7, 2012, Fetterman was featured on A Day in the Life where he discusses his responsibilities and desires for Braddock, as well as his personal history and views.[63]

Fetterman was also a guest on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on January 14, 2016, discussing his support for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.[64] He appeared again on July 19, 2016, discussing the state of the 2016 election and Donald Trump.[65]

Political positionsEdit

Fetterman is generally described as a social and fiscal progressive, including by himself,[14][66] although he holds moderate views on environmental issues like fracking.[67] One of his signature issues is prison reform.

Criminal justice reformEdit

Prison reform is one of Fetterman's signature issues, advocating for more rehabilitation schemes as well as clemency for model prisoners. A part of his role as lieutenant governor, he serves as the chair of Pennsylvania's Board of Pardons, which processes clemency requests and forwards them to the governor. Fetterman urged the board to process requests more quickly.[67]

Fetterman is in favor of abolishing capital punishment in Pennsylvania, stating that he "wholly support[s] Governor Tom Wolf's moratorium on the death penalty." He has called the death penalty "inhumane, antiquated, expensive, and [a] flawed system of punishment."[68]

Environmental issuesEdit

Fetterman frequently emphasizes the need to balance decarbonization efforts with their effects on fossil fuel-industry jobs. He supports permitting fracking, although he advocates for stricter environmental regulations.[67]


Fetterman is a proponent of legalizing marijuana, calling the issue a "political bazooka" and that leaving the issue alone is giving an opportunity for another party to gain political support for a pro-marijuana legalization agenda. He argued that if conservative South Dakota voters were willing to approve a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana, Pennsylvania should legalize it too.[69] He also supports expunging criminal convictions related to marijuana.[70]

Minimum wageEdit

Fetterman supports legislating for a $15 minimum wage.[66]


Fetterman is a supporter of Medicare for All, citing that healthcare is a "fundamental human need and right".[66]


Fetterman supports discontinuing the filibuster in the United States Senate.[71]

Wealth taxEdit

Fetterman has advocated for instituting a wealth tax in the United States.[72]

Personal lifeEdit

Fetterman is married to Gisele Barreto Fetterman (sometimes referred by her maiden surname, Almeida), a Brazilian-American activist, philanthropist, and non-profit executive (founder of the non-profit Freestore 15104 and a co-founder of the non-profits For Good Pgh and 412 Food Rescue). The couple, their three children (Karl, Grace, and August) and dog, Levi, live in a converted car dealership.[73][74][75] The family has chosen not to live in State House, the official residence for PA's Lieutenant Governor.[76]

The Fettermans' family dog Levi is a male rescue dog.[77] Levi was adopted from The Foster Farm, a Pittsburgh-based animal rescue organization.[78] An official Twitter account, @LeviFetterman, has over 20,000 followers.[79] Levi interacts with many other Pennsylvania brands including the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have both made him their official dog on social media, and the State of Pennsylvania which named him the State Dog.[80][81][82]

In 2018, Fetterman spoke publicly about a substantial weight loss; at the time, the six-foot-nine-inch Fetterman[83] had lost nearly 150 pounds (70 kg).[84]

Electoral historyEdit

Mayor of BraddockEdit

Braddock mayoral election, 2005 Democratic primary[85]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Fetterman 149 35.06%
Democratic Virginia Bunn 148 34.82%
Democratic Pauline Abdullah (incumbent) 128 30.12%
Total votes 425 100.0%
Braddock mayoral election, 2005 general election[86]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Fetterman 288 100.00%
Total votes 288 100.0%
Democratic hold
Braddock mayoral election, 2009 Democratic primary[87]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John K. Fetterman (incumbent) 304 65.38%
Democratic Jayme J. Cox 160 34.41%
Write-in 1 0.22%
Total votes 465 100.0%
Braddock mayoral election, 2009 general election[88]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John K. Fetterman (incumbent) 229 100.00%
Total votes 229 100.0%
Democratic hold
Braddock mayoral election, 2013 Democratic primary[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John K. Fetterman (incumbent) 186 75.30%
Democratic William David Speece 60 24.29%
Write-in 1 0.40%
Total votes 247 100.0%
Braddock mayoral election, 2013 general election[90]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John K. Fetterman (incumbent) 186 86.51%
Write-in 29 13.49%
Total votes 215 100.0%
Democratic hold
Braddock mayoral election, 2017 Democratic primary[91]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John K. Fetterman (incumbent) 165 70.82%
Democratic William David Speece 67 28.76%
Write-in 1 0.43%
Total votes 233 100.0%
Braddock mayoral election, 2017 general election[92]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John K. Fetterman (incumbent) 243 97.98%
Write-in 5 2.02%
Total votes 248 100.0%
Democratic hold

United States SenateEdit

2016 U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Democratic primary[93]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Katie McGinty 669,774 42.50%
Democratic Joe Sestak 513,221 32.57%
Democratic John Fetterman 307,090 19.49%
Democratic Joseph Vodvarka 85,837 5.45%
Total votes 1,575,922 100.00%

Pennsylvania lieutenant governorEdit

2018 Pennsylvania lieutenant gubernatorial Democratic primary[94]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John K. Fetterman 290,719 37.48%
Democratic Nina Ahmad 184,429 23.78%
Democratic Kathi Cozzone 143,849 18.55%
Democratic Mike Stack (incumbent) 128,931 16.62%
Democratic Ray Sosa 27,732 3.58%
Total votes 775,660 100.0%
2018 Pennsylvania gubernatorial general election[95]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Tom Wolf (incumbent)/John Fetterman 2,895,652 57.77% +2.84%
Republican Scott Wagner/Jeff Bartos 2,039,882 40.70% -4.37%
Libertarian Ken Krawchuk/Kathleen Smith 49,229 0.98% N/A
Green Paul Glover/Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick 27,792 0.55% N/A
Total votes 5,012,555 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold


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External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Pauline Abdullah
Mayor of Braddock
Succeeded by
Chardaé Jones
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike Stack
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Most recent