Fetterman entered the primary as a frontrunner and never lost his lead, facts that did little to dislodge his anti-establishment typecasting. Some of that has to do with his politics: He endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and used his perch as lieutenant governor to hold a 67-county listening tour on legalizing marijuana. Some of that has to do with his aesthetics: The media can’t resist gawking at his 6-foot-9 stature, tattooed, bald, bearded, and often bedecked in a hoodie, black Sketcher sneakers, and baggy gym shorts that fall past his knees (not a “well-pressed khaki” in sight). In addition to the politician uniform, Fetterman also eschewed most other campaign rituals, declining, for example, to seek endorsements from his fellow state lawmakers.
But Fetterman, like Lamb, has defended fracking as a source for jobs and embraced a flavor of police reform more reflective of the center of his party. His pet issue, legalizing marijuana, is perhaps the only culture war issue the left is unambiguously winning. Fetterman also earned party-wide bona fides as he defended the state against Trump’s false accusations that Pennsylvania officials had manipulated vote tallies in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. He holds an enigmatic set of positions that unifies the concerns of old-school blue-collar Democrats (privileging jobs over climate goals, for example) with the beliefs of younger, activist-inclined liberals (LBGTQ rights, prison reform). He’s also had a long political presence in the state that lends a sense of trust.
Join the conversation as a VIP Member