|34th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania|
|Assumed office |
January 15, 2019
|Preceded by||Mike Stack|
|Mayor of Braddock|
January 5, 2005 – January 8, 2019
|Preceded by||Pauline Abdullah|
|Succeeded by||Chardaé Jones|
|Born||John Karl Fetterman|
August 15, 1969
West Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||Albright College (BA)|
University of Connecticut (MBA)
Harvard University (MPP)
John Karl Fetterman (born August 15, 1969) is an American politician serving as the 34th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as Mayor of Braddock from 2005 to 2019.
Fetterman was born in 1969 at Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pennsylvania, to Karl and Susan Fetterman. Fetterman has described his parents as having started out "extremely poor", with both being teenagers at the time of John's birth. They eventually moved to York, Pennsylvania, where John grew up and his father achieved success as an insurance business owner.
Fetterman has described his upbringing as middle class and "privileged," saying he "sleepwalked" through his young adulthood, avidly playing four years of football in college and intending to eventually take over as owner of his father's business. In 1991 Fetterman graduated from Albright College, also his father's alma mater, with a bachelor's degree in finance and was on his way to earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Connecticut. However, his life took a drastic change after his friend died in a car accident on his way to drive Fetterman from the gym.
Following his friend's death, Fetterman joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, pairing with an eight-year-old boy in New Haven, Connecticut, whose father had died from AIDS, and whose mother was battling the disease. During his time as a Big Brother, Fetterman says he became "preoccupied with the concept of the random lottery of birth," and promised the boy's mother he would continue to look out for her son. Afterwards, in 1995, Fetterman joined the recently founded AmeriCorps, and was sent to teach Pittsburgh students pursuing their GEDs. For two years Fetterman worked in Pittsburgh before attending Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, graduating in 1999 with a Master of Public Policy.
Fetterman moved to Braddock in 2001 to serve with AmeriCorps, helping local youth who had left school to earn their GED. After living in Braddock for four years, attracted by what he called the town's "malignant beauty", Fetterman ran against the incumbent mayor in 2005 and won the primary by a single vote. As the part-time mayor, Fetterman earned $110.22 a month in 2007. His full-time job, directing the Out-Of-School-Youth program, paid around $30,000 annually. In addition to his work with the program, Fetterman established strong relationships with the 16- to 24-year-old population, helping many in finding employment, and working with them with issues involving family, social agencies, and police. He also founded the 501(c)(3), Braddock Redux.
Mayor of Braddock
Following his election, Fetterman initiated youth and art programs, created a community center, and tried to initiate development of the town's mostly ruined buildings and poor economy. With family money, Fetterman purchased the town's First Presbyterian Church before demolition for $50,000, living in the basement for several months. He later purchased an adjacent warehouse for $2,000, placed two shipping containers on the roof for "extra living space" and moved in. He has since purchased and renovated many additional houses and offered cheap, even free, rent. Fetterman has attracted many young artists to the town through cheap rent and starting various art exhibitions. The town's "renaissance" has attracted individuals from cities such as Chicago and Portland, Oregon, drawn by the potential for development and growth. Other programs include a two-acre organic urban farm, worked by teenagers of the Braddock Youth Project.
Fetterman's commitment to the community of Braddock is shown with various tattoos. On his left arm are the numbers 15104 - Braddock's ZIP Code, and on the right, the dates of five murders that occurred in the town since he was elected mayor. As mayor, Fetterman drew international attention for trying to revitalize the economy in Braddock, with an article in The New York Times, an appearance on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, as well as a Levi's jeans ad.
In order to help fund programs, Fetterman established relationships with local non-profit organizations, Allegheny County's economic development program, and county executive Dan Onorato. Opposition to Fetterman's activities while mayor came from borough council president Jesse Brown. In March 2009, Brown ordered the borough's code enforcement officer to cite Fetterman for an occupancy permit violation for a building owned by Fetterman's non-profit organization. Brown also asked the judge to move the hearing to before the May mayoral election so that the people could be aware of the situation. The judge later dismissed the complaint.
On November 29, 2010, Fetterman was arrested and immediately released after refusing to leave the property of the U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh. Fetterman was protesting the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center controversial closure of Braddock Hospital, which was met with objections from the community.
In January 2013, while mayor, Fetterman came under fire for allegedly pointing a shotgun at an unarmed black man in Braddock. After hearing what he thought was gunfire, Fetterman got in his truck and pursued a jogger, Chris Miyares. The two dispute whether Fetterman did or did not aim the shotgun at his chest. Fetterman said he "believed [he] did the right thing". The incident was given renewed attention when Fetterman announced his campaign to replace retiring U.S. Senator Pat Toomey in 2022, with Miyares's race igniting questions over the possible discriminatory nature of the event. In response to an inquiry launched by The New York Times, Fetterman defended himself and claimed Miyares was running in the direction of an elementary school, and that he made the decision to approach him with the firearm due to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurring the month prior. Fetterman's campaign also claimed he did not know the jogger's race or gender at the time of the incident due to the dark clothing Miyares was wearing.
Lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania
In 2018, Fetterman ran to replace outgoing incumbent lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, Democrat Mike Stack, following scandals which ended his tenure. Fetterman managed to win the open Democratic primary in a field of four other candidates, and ultimately won alongside incumbent governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, in that year's gubernatorial election.
In November 2020, Fetterman received national press coverage for saying Donald Trump was "no different than any other random internet troll" and that he "can sue a ham sandwich" in response to Trump threatening to file lawsuits in Pennsylvania alleging voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
2016 U.S. Senate campaign
On September 11, 2015, Fetterman announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Pat Toomey in the 2016 election. His campaign was considered a longshot against two better-known candidates, Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Senate. Fetterman was endorsed by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer, and the PennLive Editorial Board.
Fetterman's campaign focused on progressive values and building support through grassroots movement, drawing comparisons to Bernie Sanders. Fetterman, a self-described democratic socialist, was the only statewide Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania to endorse Sanders. Though lacking statewide name recognition, having low campaign funds, and polling as low as 4% a week before the primary, Fetterman was able to garner 20% of the primary vote. Katie McGinty won the primary, After the primary Fetterman campaigned on behalf of McGinty, although Toomey ultimately defeated McGinty and won reelection.
2018 Lieutenant Governor campaign
On November 14, 2017, Fetterman announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, challenging, among others, incumbent Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack. Fetterman was endorsed by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Erin McClelland, Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district in 2014 and 2016, and former Pennsylvania Governor and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell. On May 15, Fetterman won the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor. Fetterman was a part of the Democratic ticket along with incumbent Governor Tom Wolf. On November 6, 2018, Wolf and Fetterman defeated the Republican ticket of Scott Wagner and Jeff Bartos in the general election.
2022 U.S. Senate campaign
In January 2021, Fetterman announced he was launching an exploratory committee for the 2022 U.S. Senate election in Pennsylvania. On February 4, 2021, Fetterman filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission declaring his intention to run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. On February 8, 2021, he officially entered the U.S. Senate race.
Fetterman's efforts to create youth-oriented programs, revitalize his town, and attract artists and other "creatives" to his community were featured in The New York Times. An article about him, describing him as "America's coolest mayor", appeared on July 15, 2009, in The Guardian in the United Kingdom.
Fetterman was the guest on the Colbert Report on February 25, 2009, discussing the economic difficulties his town faced due to a decreasing population, plummeting real estate values, and bankruptcy. He also questioned why funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 could not be used to support projects such as those in Braddock. He appeared again on August 16, 2010, discussing what he had been doing and the town's partnership with Levi Strauss.
Fetterman was also a guest on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on January 14, 2016, discussing his support for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. He appeared again on July 19, 2016, discussing the state of the 2016 election and Donald Trump.
Fetterman is generally described as a social and fiscal progressive, including by himself, although he holds moderate views on environmental issues like fracking. One of his signature issues is prison reform.
Criminal justice reform
Prison reform is one of Fetterman's signature issues, advocating for more rehabilitation schemes as well as clemency for model prisoners. A part of his role as lieutenant governor, he serves as the chair of Pennsylvania's Board of Pardons, which processes clemency requests and forwards them to the governor. Fetterman urged the board to process requests more quickly.
Fetterman is in favor of abolishing capital punishment in Pennsylvania, stating that he "wholly support[s] Governor Tom Wolf’s moratorium on the death penalty." He has called the death penalty "inhumane, antiquated, expensive, and [a] flawed system of punishment."
Fetterman frequently emphasizes the need to balance decarbonization efforts with their effects on fossil fuel-industry jobs. He supports permitting fracking, although he advocates for stricter environmental regulations.
Fetterman is a proponent of legalizing marijuana, calling the issue a "political bazooka" and that leaving the issue alone is giving an opportunity for another party to gain political support for a pro-marijuana legalization agenda. He argued that if conservative South Dakota voters were willing to approve a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana, Pennsylvania should legalize it too. He also supports expunging criminal convictions related to marijuana.
Fetterman lives in a converted car dealership with his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, their three children, Karl, Grace, and August, and dog, Levi. He has chosen not to live in State House, the official residence for PA's Lieutenant Governor.
The Fetterman's family dog Levi is a male rescue dog, originally from West Virginia that they brought home in mid-2020; he is a mix of Labrador Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Beagle, Boston Terrier, and Chow Chow, among other breeds. An official Twitter account, @LeviFetterman, has over 15,000 followers. Levi interacts with many other Pennsylvania brands including the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have both made him their official dog on social media, and the State of Pennsylvania which named him the State Dog.
Mayor of Braddock
|Democratic||Pauline Abdullah (incumbent)||128||30.12%|
|Democratic||John K. Fetterman (incumbent)||304||65.38%|
|Democratic||Jayme J. Cox||160||34.41%|
|Democratic||John K. Fetterman (incumbent)||229||100.00%|
|Democratic||John K. Fetterman (incumbent)||186||75.30%|
|Democratic||William David Speece||60||24.29%|
|Democratic||John K. Fetterman (incumbent)||186||86.51%|
|Democratic||John K. Fetterman (incumbent)||165||70.82%|
|Democratic||William David Speece||67||28.76%|
|Democratic||John K. Fetterman (incumbent)||243||97.98%|
United States Senate
Pennsylvania lieutenant governor
|Democratic||John K. Fetterman||290,719||37.48%|
|Democratic||Mike Stack (incumbent)||128,931||16.62%|
|Democratic||Tom Wolf (incumbent)/John Fetterman||2,895,652||57.77%||+2.84%|
|Republican||Scott Wagner/Jeff Bartos||2,039,882||40.70%||-4.37%|
|Libertarian||Ken Krawchuk/Kathleen Smith||49,229||0.98%||N/A|
|Green||Paul Glover/Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick||27,792||0.55%||N/A|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Fetterman.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: John Fetterman|
- Government website
- Campaign website
- Profile of Fetterman and Braddock, PA on the show NOW on PBS
- Braddock Redux
- Appearances on C-SPAN
| Mayor of Braddock
| Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania