Congressional candidate Jerry Dickinson endorses Bernie Sanders, supports fracking ban | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Congressional candidate Jerry Dickinson endorses Bernie Sanders, supports fracking ban

click to enlarge Congressional candidate Jerry Dickinson endorses Bernie Sanders, supports fracking ban
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Jerry Dickinson, a University of Pittsburgh Law professor and congressional candidate for the 18th district, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) for president today. Dickinson cited several points on which he and Sanders align, including climate action, Medicare for All, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, and a broader mission of tackling inequality.

"I am today endorsing and supporting Bernie Sanders for president of the United States. This is largely because we have the same mission, Mr. Sanders and I, in terms of speaking for the people," says Dickinson. "We want to make government work for all people and not just a privileged few. I certainly support his vision for the country and I think he’s the best person to lead this country in 2020."

Dickinson has been especially vocal about his support for the Green New Deal — which Sanders also supports — a plan put forth by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) with goals of a clean energy economy by 2030. His opponent, Rep. Mike Doyle, backs the CLEAN Future Act, which sets its goals for 2050.

"Part of why this is so important to me is because I have a two and a half year old daughter. And she's growing up as a Black girl in Pittsburgh, and we know that the pollution and the environmental issues that are ongoing in this district are affecting many people of color [and] low-income families," says Dickinson. "But this is why we need a bold action, bold leadership, and progressive leadership in this district to fight these inequalities."

Like Sanders, Dickinson also supports a ban on natural-gas drilling, aka fracking, an issue on which Pennsylvanians are divided. A January 2020 poll from Franklin & Marshall shows that 48% of registered voters in the state support a fracking ban, while 38% oppose (the rest did not know). The poll also showed that 64% of Democrats in Pennsylvania are in favor of the ban, and voters in Allegheny County support a fracking ban by a 61%-26% margin. The 18th District represents the city of Pittsburgh and its eastern and southern suburbs within Allegheny County.

Dickinson sees Sanders' support for the ban and his push for Medicare for All as issues that go hand in hand. "[When] we're talking about Bernie's positions on the Green New Deal and his positions on medicare for all, the two are intertwined," he says. "We have a major public health crisis as a result of climate change, and so we need to have a comprehensive healthcare reform to help absorb those problems."

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills), has also been a longtime supporter of a single-payer healthcare plan, though he doesn't support the elimination of private health insurance.

Presidential endorsements from local politicians have been trickling in over the course of the election cycle. In January, state Rep. Sara Innamorato (D-Lawrenceville) endorsed Sanders. Back in April 2019, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Scranton) endorsed Joe Biden, on the same day the former Vice President announced his candidacy. Biden has also received endorsements from Rep. Conor Lamb (D- Mt. Lebanon) and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Second Lady of Pennsylvania Gisele Fetterman, County Controller Chelsa Wagner (D-Point Breeze), and Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam (D-Ross) have all backed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).