Pennsylvania’s Democratic lt. governor files to run for Senate

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has formally filed papers to run for an open U.S. Senate seat, the first major candidate to enter what is expected to be one of the most competitive contests of the midterm elections. 

Fetterman has teased a run, opening a campaign account in January that he said raised more than $1 million in just its first two weeks. He filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

Fetterman’s team said the paperwork, a regular step required by federal law, did not amount to a formal announcement.
“Because an exploratory committee can only raise a very limited amount of money, we had to refile our paperwork with the FEC as a full campaign committee,” a campaign spokesman said. “This is routine paperwork. John has been honest and straightforward that he is taking a hard look at running; when he makes his final decision, you will be one of the first to know.”

Fetterman, 51, has stood out as an outside-the-box politician who lives in a converted car dealership, stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall and sports a tattoo of his zip code in Braddock, an industrial town outside of Pittsburgh, on his arm. He has clashed this year with legislative Republicans, who booted him from his role overseeing the state Senate after an altercation over seating a Democratic senator.

Pennsylvania political observers expect a hotly contested race to replace Sen. Pat Toomey (R), who said last year he would retire rather than seek another term.

Fetterman, who lost a four-way primary for the right to challenge Toomey in 2016, will not have the Democratic primary to himself. State Sen. Sharif Street (D) has filed papers to run, and Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D) and Conor Lamb (D) are among the others considering their own futures.

The fight for the Republican nomination is likely to be an early clash between rival factions battling to guide the GOP’s future.

Candidates from the party’s traditional wing may include former Rep. Ryan Costello (R), who has said he is considering a run, and Craig Snyder, a former top aide to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), and Jeff Bartos, a developer from Montgomery County who ran for lieutenant governor in 2018.

A handful of former Trump administration officials and Trump-aligned members of Congress are thinking about stepping into the race. Former Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite (R), Rep. Mike Kelly (R) and 2020 congressional candidate Sean Parnell (R) are all said to be considering a bid.

Pennsylvania is one of only a small handful of states with a split Senate delegation, reflecting the narrow divide between Republicans and Democrats. President Biden carried the state in 2020 by just 1.2 percentage points, or about 80,000 votes — four years after former President Trump won it by just 44,000 votes.

Tags Donald Trump John Fetterman Mike Kelly Pat Toomey Pennsylvania Ryan Costello Senate
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