Fetterman, who serves alongside Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York), ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 and defeated incumbent Mike Stack and several other challengers in the Democratic Primary, then took on the role when Wolf won reelection in 2018. During his tenure, Fetterman has made a name for himself as the more vocally progressive between him and Wolf, pushing the governor to directly advocate for issues like legalizing recreational marijuana. Before taking office as lieutenant governor, Fetterman served as the Mayor of Braddock from 2005-2018.
In his campaign announcement, Fetterman painted himself as someone who can appeal to many different groups in Pennsylvania, including more conservative voters living in rural or small towns, and even Democrats who voted for Donald Trump.
"We don't have to agree on everything, but I will always tell you what I believe is the truth," he said in his announcement video. "I'm going to fight, not for one part of Pennsylvania, not for one party of Pennsylvania, but for one Pennsylvania."
In a press release for the announcement, Fetterman also touted his support of several progressive issues, including his support of unions, criminal justice reform, and protections for people in the LGBTQ community. In an interview, he also said he supported ending the filibuster rule in the Senate.
"I believe that every community and every county in Pennsylvania is worth fighting for," said Fetterman. "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."
This will be Fetterman's second senate race; he ran in 2016 but lost the nomination to Democrat Katie McGinty, who in turn lost the race to incumbent Toomey. But Fetterman still garnered sizable support during his first run, gaining 20% of the vote and winning Allegheny County.
The announcement of Fetterman's second senate run isn't really a surprise, as the media attention he's been courting since his days as Mayor has increased significantly in the last several months. Fetterman regularly appears at the on national TV to voice his disdain for Trump or advocate for legal marijuana. When Trump threatened to file lawsuits to discredit votes in Pennsylvania, said on NBC that “[Trump] could sue a ham sandwich and it’s not going to change anything.”
He, along with his wife Gisele Fetterman, have been highlighted in news outlets from across the state, as well Teen Vogue and Glamour magazines.
As national attention for Fetterman has grown, outsiders have come to appreciate or gawk at the first thing everyone notices about Fetterman, which is his height of 6 feet 8 inches, his abundant tattoos, and his aggressively casual appearance. The man is known for wearing the same workman's button-down in nearly every photo.
For all the attention he garners on social media and in the news, Fetterman is not without his critics, from both ends of the political spectrum. Last month, Republicans in Pennsylvania's general assembly said he was breaking procedure in his attempt to get legislators to seat state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport), whom republicans were refusing to seat. They also passed a law specifically targeting Fetterman for hanging flags out of his office window with a marijuana leaf and Pride rainbow on them.
During his first senate run, University of Pittsburgh's Young Democratic Socialists declined to endorse Fetterman, citing doubts due to Fetterman's endorsement of former state Rep. Paul Costa (D-Wilkins), who they believed was not pro-abortion access. In Jan. 2020, Fetterman also drew criticism from environmentalists because of a New York Times story where he discussed why he opposed an outright fracking ban.
In his press release, Fetterman's team says they have raised $1.3 million in donations over the last couple weeks, which they have been receiving since before Fetterman officially announced his campaign. Fetterman's campaign has already earned endorsements from labor unions United Steelworkers District 10 and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776.