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Pennsylvania's Democratic lt. governor eyes Senate run in 2022

Pennsylvania's Democratic lt. governor eyes Senate run in 2022
© Ben Kamisar

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is eyeing a run for Senate in 2022. 

A post on Fetterman’s campaign website says that the Pennsylvania Democrat is “exploring” a campaign for retiring Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE’s (R-Pa.) seat, calling the upcoming Senate contest in Pennsylvania “the most important” of the 2022 midterm cycle.

“Pennsylvania will be the most important Senate race in 2022,” the announcement reads. “We think we can win if we go for it. But before we decide to run, we want to know who's with us," the pop-up reads, asking, "Will you make a donation today if you want to see John run?”

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The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported on Friday that Fetterman is considering another Senate run. He previously ran for the Democratic nomination to challenge Toomey in 2016, but ultimately lost to Democrat Katie McGinty.

"You already know exactly where I stand,” Fetterman is expected to tell supporters in an email on Friday, according to the Inquirer. “I haven’t had to ‘evolve’ on key issues, because I’ve always said what I believe is true and have been saying the same things for 20 years.”

Toomey announced last fall that he would not seek a third term in the Senate, delivering a blow to Republicans who are already expecting to play defense in the 2022 midterm elections.

Twenty GOP-held Senate seats will be on the ballot next year compared to only 14 Democratic-held seats. What’s more, many of those Republicans will be competing in states that Democrats are particularly eager to contest, including North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Senate Democrats are celebrating wins in two runoff elections in Georgia this week, a pair of victories that effectively hands the party control of the upper chamber when President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenAzar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Biden scolds Republicans for not wearing masks during Capitol attack Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE enter the White House later this month.

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Looking ahead to 2022, Democrats see Toomey’s seat in Pennsylvania as one of their top targets. Not only will Toomey’s retirement create an open race in which no candidate will have the power of incumbency, but Biden’s victory there in the November presidential election has reenergized Democrats after the state went for President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE in 2016.

If he ultimately pulls the trigger on a Senate bid, Fetterman will enter the race as one of the top contenders. 

The Pennsylvania lieutenant governor’s statewide and national profile has ballooned in recent years, and especially since November. He’s been a frequent guest on news networks, where he’s defended the accuracy of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania and has criticized Trump’s false allegations of widespread voter fraud. 

Fetterman was also thrust into the national spotlight earlier this week after protesting a move by Republicans in the state Senate to refuse to seat a Democrat who narrowly won reelection.