John Fetterman at the Carrie Furnaces, a former steel mill near Braddock, Pennsylvania, that’s now open for tours. Marketing the history of the steel culture to strangers comes within the framework of the former mayor’s plan to revive the area.
Michael S. Williamson/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
John Fetterman, the former mayor of Braddock, was elected lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania in 2018, vanquishing out better funded adversaries. Fetterman has taken an oft-overlooked post and shaped it his bully pulpit, employing the agency to advocate for criminal justice reform, including the legalization of marijuanas. In an interview with Business Insider, he discussed the outgoing president’s allegations of voter fraud, saying the only two he’s been able to find are cases of people who voted for Trump. “The fact that they both happen to be Trump voters is funny, but it’s immaterial because it have proved that, one, how rare it is, but likewise how hard it is to commit voter scam, ” he said. He is often discussed as a potential candidate for governor or American senate, with elections for both taking place in 2022. He says he’s undecided on his next steps. “I truthfully don’t know, ” he told me, “but tell your friends in Philadelphia that Sheetz is much better than Wawa and that the Steelers are much better than the Eagles.” Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
John Fetterman, the former mayor of Braddock, was elected lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania in 2018, vanquishing out better-funded opponents.
He is not a democratic socialist, although he was a big supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and he doesn’t even like the label of “progressive.” John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic lieutenant governor who lives in a remodeled Chevy dealership, believes his politics can best be described as honesty — honest about the world in which billionaires receive levy cuts while working-class wages stagnate.
“If you’re willing to argue that $7.25 pennies an hour is an appropriate or fair minimum wage, then you’re a liar. It’s outrageous. It’s reprehensible, ” Fetterman said in an interview with Business Insider, referring to a federal minimum wages that hasn’t been raised since the last recession in 2009. “It denounces people to a life below poverty-line subsistence. It’s profoundly un-American. It’s profoundly unfair.”
“That’s not ‘progressive, ‘” Fetterman maintained. “That’s the f—ing truth.”
There are several reasons why Fetterman is probably the first lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania that anyone outside the government could recognize. For one, he is physically hard to miss, standing at 6’8″. He has also employed the oft-anonymous position as a bully pulpit, typified by his displaying two pennants outside his office in the country capitol of Harrisburg promoting two causes that are crucial to him: LGBTQ+ rights and marijuana, which he would have like to have legalized yesterday.( The state’s Republican legislature, peeved by the display, recently voted to have the flags removed .)
He takes his official duties severely. If something were to happen to Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat, he would be the man in charge. And as chairman of Pennsylvania’s Board of Forgiveness, he has also has the ability to influence whether a person should be judged by the worst thing they ever did or given another chance at life.
“This idea that you can’t ever achieve forgiveness or redemption I think is shortcoming, ” Fetterman said. With certain exceptions of genuinely heinous crimes, “you should be able to work your course back.”
He pointed to the case of Corry Sanders, who in 2016 won a seat on the city council of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, about a half-hour outside Pittsburgh. Though he was democratically elected by his peers, “he was denied[ his bench] because he had a drug conviction from 25 year ago. And that’s outrageous. That’s crazy.”
Last year, Fetterman, who championed Sanders’ case before taking office in 2018, and every other member of the state’s parole board voted to pardon him for that crime. “That’s what I’m talking about: this idea that people are not the sum total of one bad decision, ” he said. “I think that’s what needs to be inculcated more deep in our criminal justice conversation.”
A big art article featuring neon to simulate a sword run( the building is next to the Edgar Thompson steel mill) glows on the side the the old-time Superior Motors Building in Braddock, Pennsylvania. The build now houses the Superior Motors restaurant, a playhouse and the palace of former Mayor John Fetterman.
Michael S. Williamson/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
Criminal justice and police reform are why the 51 -year-old Fetterman, a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who served in Pittsburgh as a member of AmeriCorps, went from being largely apolitical, if not unconscientious, to the mayor of Braddock. In 2005, he won the election by a single referendum, going on to lead the majority-Black town of some 2,000 people in Allegheny County for the next 12 years. He ran, in particular, on gun violence and police inhumanity, gaining national attention for his efforts to attract creatives to a city that, like others in Pennsylvania, has been economically distressed ever since the collapse of the steel industry.
That’s how Fetterman, who has tattoos marking each date there was a homicide in Braddock during his mayorship, gratified his wife and Pennsylvania’s second lady, Gisele. A formerly undocumented immigrant from Brazil who grew up in New York City, she read an article about Fetterman’s efforts to revitalize the town, which produced some of the steel used in the Brooklyn Bridge, and decided to check it out herself.
“At the time I was working out of Newark on meat justice and access issues. I arrived and @JohnFetterman fall MADLY in love with me, ” she recently posted on Twitter.
–Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@ giselefetterman) November 24, 2020
In October, the mother of three had something far less heart-warming to share on social media. While out browse for groceries in her brand-new hometown, the status of women in the parking lot harangued her, calling her “the n-word that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman married, ” per CNN.
“Even though I’m 38, and I’m second dame, and I have a family and career, I was immediately again a scared 9-year-old undocumented little girl at that grocery cable, ” she told the network.
Her experience, as an immigrant who has evidenced xenophobia in the land of opportunity, has informed her husband’s politics. In a seam op-ed published earlier in 2020, the second couple discussed migration as matters of both morality and justice. “[ W] e find our current immigration system, specially under this administration, as part of America’s historic bequest of criminalizing Black, chocolate-brown, and indigenous torsoes for reasons that are arbitrary and capricious at best, and fueled by fear and hate at worst.”
Fetterman has been in the national spotlight more recently not because of his work on criminal justice or his tenure in Braddock, however, but because of President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in the government, which he lost by more than 80,000 polls. On MSNBC earlier this month, Fetterman described Trump as only “one more Internet troll, ” albeit one with the nuclear codes and a squad of solicitors willing to submit extol different versions of his tweets as lawsuits.
John Fetterman speaks with supporters during a campaign stop at the Interstate Drafthouse in Philadelphia during his 2016 run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for American senate.
Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call
Those suits are “an insult to litigation and solicitors everywhere, ” Fetterman said. “As soon as they were heard, they were shut down, rejected, even ridiculed.”
Is it a joke, though, when the incumbent president of the United States and conducting members of his party seek to delegitimize a democratic outcome of an election?
“I don’t think there’s going to be any lasting harm, ” Fetterman said. He considers Trump’s advocates will eventually accept the results. “I’m not saying we’re all gonna come together, but there isn’t one person that genuinely believes Hugo Chavez — who I see died in 2013 — was part of a conspiracy to steal the 2020 Pennsylvania election, ” he said, referring to a harebrained assumption promoted by one-time Trump solicitor Sidney Powell. “No one believes that.”
Like the outgoing chairman, Fetterman is an avid user of Twitter; he started posting again about two minutes after finishing this interview. But he is far more likely to post a GIF from “The Simpsons” than an all-caps, late-night rant. And instead of internet bullying, he are ready to lightheartedly tease his political opponents. When his Texas counterpart offered a$ 1 million reward for evidence of voter fraud, Fetterman eagerly took him on the give, citing the two cases known to exist in Pennsylvania, both involving Trump voters.
–John Fetterman (@ JohnFetterman) November 23, 2020
“My dude owes me$ 2 million, ” Fetterman said. “The fact that they both happen to be Trump voters is funny, but it’s immaterial because it have proved that, one, how rare it is, but likewise how hard it is to commit voter fraud.”
“It’s so funny, it’s sad that this guy put out their own nationals call to pay for[ evidence of] voter fraud, ” he added. “You know, let me see it. He hasn’t paid a dime.”
It’s not all trolling of the other side, though. In 2018, during his run for lieutenant governor, Fetterman campaigned on remembering, and reminding other politicians, what life is like in Pennsylvania’s “forgotten cities” — ones that in many cases tilted Trump the past two elections after previously being white working-class strongholds for the Democrats.
“If we’re going to reverse the fortunes of not only our party but, most importantly, communities and regions,[ we need to be] reinvesting and admitting that these places is in favour of championed, ” Fetterman said. He doesn’t feel most Trump voters, or at least not all, are a lost cause.
“There’s certainly unreachable people, ” he said. The thing, he belief, is that Trump is actually an effective demagogue. “I think it’s people is responding to a tier of authenticity or rawness, ” he said. “You’re not going to convince me that Pennsylvania changed radically from Barack Obama, ” who twice won the state, “to Donald Trump.”
John Fetterman strikes up a exchange at a diner in the depressed sword city of Clairton, Pennsylvania.
Michael S. Williamson/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
Enough voters switched to Biden to turn the government blue once more. But Trump, he sees, is not going to go gently into that good night.
“He’s gonna run, 100% he’s going to run, ” Fetterman said. “He is going to start running the minute he leaves the White House and he is untethered from, you know, whatever responsibilities of the presidency, ” he said. “The idea that he is going to learn how to paint or[ start] a philanthropic struggle or whatever — it’s like , no.”
Before 2024, however, is 2022: that’s when Pennsylvania will have an open US Senate seat up for grabs, vacated by Republican Pat Toomey. Fetterman, in 2016, sought the Democratic nomination to run against Toomey. Is he still eyeing the seat today — or might he look to succeed Gov. Wolf, who will be term-limited the same year?
“I truthfully don’t know, ” he said, “but tell your friends in Philadelphia that Sheetz is much better than Wawa and that the Steelers are much better than the Eagles.”
Fetterman, however, soon followed his inflammatory remarks with the diplomacy he is required to win votes in the state’s southeastern quadrant if he passed for statewide office.
“I love Gritty, ” he said of the Philadelphia Flyers’ unexpectedly viral mascot. “How could you not adoration Gritty? I love cheesesteaks and truly enjoy Philadelphia.”
Knocking the southeast’s convenience stores is just good fun, he maintains — the kinds of thing, unlike politics, where one can get in a heated debate that does not aim in a fistfight( usually ).
Though a native of York, in central Pennsylvania, “I’m a Western PA guy, ” Fetterman said, “and I emphatically love to make fun of the Steelers being undefeated whereas the Eagles, I’ll just say, are not. I’ll just leave it at that. They are not undefeated.”
Have a report tip-off? Email this reporter, a one-time Philadelphian and Wawa evangelist: cdavis @insider. com
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