John Fetterman (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Fetterman
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Portrait (46874790005).jpg
34th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Assumed office
January 15, 2019
GovernorTom Wolf
Preceded byMike Stack
Mayor of Braddock
In office
January 2005 – January 8, 2019[1]
Preceded byPauline Abdullah[2]
Succeeded byChardaé Jones
Personal details
Born (1969-08-15) August 15, 1969 (age 50)
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Gisele Almeida
m. 2008)
EducationAlbright College (BA)
University of Connecticut Harvard University (MPP)
WebsiteGovernment website

John Fetterman (born August 15, 1969) is an American politician who is the 34th and current Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, since January 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, from 2005 to 2019. A native of York, Pennsylvania, Fetterman earned a bachelor's degree in finance from Albright College in 1991 and a master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. He moved to Braddock in 2001 to serve with AmeriCorps and start a non-profit organization, Braddock Redux.

He won the Braddock mayoral election in 2005 by a single vote and was re-elected in 2009, 2013, and 2017. As mayor, Fetterman has drawn 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", and a Levi's jeans ad. He has made equality,[specify] environmental protection, gay rights, immigration, and marijuana legalization major campaign issues. He ran for the United States Senate in 2016, but was defeated in the Democratic primary. In 2018, he defeated incumbent Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack in the Democratic primary[3] and was subsequently elected as Lieutenant Governor in the general election, along with incumbent Tom Wolf as governor.

Early life and education[edit]

Fetterman was born in 1969 at Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pennsylvania, to Karl and Susan Fetterman.[4] Fetterman has described his parents as having started out "extremely poor," with both being teenagers at the time at John's birth. However they eventually moved to York, Pennsylvania, where John grew up and his father achieved success as an insurance business owner.[5][6]

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.[5] In 1991 Fetterman graduated from Albright College, also his father's alma mater, and was on his way to earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Connecticut.[7] However, his life took a drastic change after his friend died in a car accident on his way to drive Fetterman from the gym.[8]

Fetterman in 2009

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.[9] 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.[10] Afterwards, in 1995 Fetterman joined the recently founded AmeriCorps, and was sent to teach Pittsburgh students pursuing their GEDs.[11] 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.[12]


Fetterman moved to Braddock in 2001 to work for AmeriCorps, helping local youth who had left school 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 by a single vote.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

Following his election, Fetterman initiated youth and art programs, created a community center, and has 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.[16] He later purchased an adjacent warehouse for $2,000, placed two shipping containers on the roof for "extra living space" and moved in.[13][14] 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.[13] The town's "renaissance" has attracted individuals from cities such as Chicago and Portland, Oregon, drawn by the potential for development and growth.[17] Other programs include a two-acre organic urban farm, worked by teenagers of the Braddock Youth Project.[15]

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.[17]

In order to help fund programs, Fetterman has established relationships with local non-profit organizations, Allegheny County's economic development program, and county executive Dan Onorato.[15] Opposition to Fetterman's activities while mayor has come 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.[18]

In 2009, Fetterman was re-elected as mayor after winning the Democratic primary against Jayme Cox by a vote of 294 to 103.[19][20] He was re-elected in 2013, running unopposed.

On November 29, 2010, Fetterman was arrested and immediately released in Pittsburgh. Fetterman had refused to leave the property of the U.S. Steel Tower where he was protesting the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). UPMC had recently closed its Braddock Hospital despite objections by Fetterman and the local community.[21][22]

2016 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Fetterman campaigning in Pittsburgh

On September 11, 2015, Fetterman announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Pat Toomey in the 2016 election. His campaign was considered a longshot against the 2010 Democratic nominee for Senate, Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty, both of whom had higher name recognition.[23] Fetterman was endorsed by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley,[24] former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer,[25] and the PennLive Editorial Board.[26]

Fetterman's campaign focused on progressive values and building support through grassroots movement, drawing comparisons to Bernie Sanders.[27] Fetterman, a self-described democratic socialist[28] endorsed Sanders[29] and was the only statewide Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania to endorse Sanders. Though lacking statewide name recognition, low campaign funds, and polling as low as 4% a week before the primary,[30] Fetterman was able to garner 20% of the primary vote. Katie McGinty won the primary,[31] After the primary Fetterman campaigned on behalf of McGinty.[32] though Toomey ultimately defeated McGinty and won reelection.

In 2015 Fetterman's finances garnered attention when running for Senate. Financial disclosure forms were submitted two months late, raising questions as to Fetterman's willingness to disclose financial information.[33]

2016 United States Senate Democratic primary in Pennsylvania results[34]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Katie McGinty 669,774 42.50%
Democratic Joe Sestak 513,221 32.57%
Democratic John Fetterman 307,090 19.49%
Democratic Joseph Vodvarka 85,837 5.45%
Total votes 1,575,922 100.00%

2018 Lieutenant Governor campaign[edit]

Fetterman at his inauguration, January 2019

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.[35] Fetterman was endorsed by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto,[35] Erin McClelland, Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district in 2014 and 2016, and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.[36] On May 15, Fetterman won the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor.[37] 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.[38]

Democratic primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Fetterman 288,229 38.0
Democratic Nina Ahmad 182,309 23.8
Democratic Kathi Cozzone 142,410 18.6
Democratic Mike Stack (incumbent) 127,259 16.6
Democratic Ray Sosa 27,427 3.6
Total votes 767,634 100.0


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.[39]

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.[17] He appeared again on August 16, 2010, discussing what he had been doing and the town's partnership with Levi Strauss.

In 2010, Levi Strauss & Company donated money towards Braddock's revitalization and features the town in an advertising campaign and documentary produced by Sundance Channel.[40]

On May 7, 2012, Fetterman was featured on A Day in the Life where he discusses his responsibilities and desires for Braddock, as well as his personal history and views.[41]

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.[42] He appeared again on July 19, 2016, discussing the state of the 2016 election and Donald Trump.[43]

Personal life[edit]

Fetterman lives in a converted car dealership with his wife, Gisele, and their three children Karl, Grace and August.[44]


  1. ^ Martines, Jamie (January 7, 2019). "Braddock council to select interim mayor Tuesday". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Our Campaigns. "Abdullah, Pauline R." Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  3. ^ Pittsburgh's Action News 4. "Bartos, Fetterman declared winners of GOP, Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor". Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  4. ^ Kathleen Ganster (Winter 2013). "Reinventing a town". Albright College. The Albright Reporter.
  5. ^ a b Jeff Simon (November 23, 2015). "The tattoos are not the most interesting thing about this mayor". CNN.
  6. ^ Brian Hickey (September 21, 2015). "15 questions for behemoth U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman". newsworks. Archived from the original on April 14, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  7. ^ Anna Orso (September 21, 2015). "John Fetterman for Senate: Why a 6-foot-8 tatted-up Harvard grad from Western Pa. is running". BillyPenn.
  8. ^ Wallace McKelvey (November 4, 2015). "12 Rough, tattooed and Harvard-educated, small-town Pa. mayor shakes up U.S. Senate race". The Patriot-News.
  9. ^ Bill O'Boyle (January 28, 2016). "Braddock mayor John Fetterman campaigns as Senate candidate for change". Times Leader.
  10. ^ Dan McQuade (December 13, 2015). "John Fetterman: The Giant Underdog". PhillyMag.
  11. ^ Kate Aronoff (February 29, 2016). "We Found the Coolest Populist in America, and He's Running for U.S. Senate". In These Times.
  12. ^ Sarah Abrams (Summer 2009). "Small-Town Justice". John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  13. ^ a b c "Braddock, Penn". Ready Made. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  14. ^ a b Jones, Diana Nelson (May 6, 2007). "The Next Page: Braddock, the Rebound Town". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  15. ^ a b c Brown, Nell Porter. "Wrought from Ruins". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  16. ^ Stroud, Matt (August 31, 2006). "A Call to Arms: Braddock Mayor John Fetterman Wears His Allegiances on His Sleeve". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  17. ^ a b c Streitfeld, David (January 31, 2009). "Rock Bottom for Decades, but Showing Signs of Life". New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  18. ^ Balingit, Moriah (March 26, 2009). "Judge dismisses complaint against Braddock mayor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  19. ^ Balingit, Moriah (May 20, 2009). "After nasty campaign, Braddock mayor Fetterman breezes to win". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  20. ^ Balingit, Moriah (May 14, 2009). "Braddock mayoral race gets nastier". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  21. ^ "Braddock Mayor Arrested For Protesting At UPMC". WTAE-TV. November 30, 2010. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  22. ^ Nereim, Vivian; Moriah Balingit (November 29, 2010). "Braddock mayor's one-man protest ends in arrest". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  23. ^ "Sestak gets another foe; Braddock mayor enters Dem U.S. Senate race". Delaware County Daily Times. Associated Press. September 11, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  24. ^ Olson, Laura (February 29, 2016). "Martin O'Malley endorses John Fetterman for US Senate". The Morning Call. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  25. ^ Field, Nick (September 24, 2015). "PA-Sen: Barbara Hafer Endorses Fetterman". PoliticsPA. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  26. ^ "For Democrats looking for a change in the U.S. Senate, John Fetterman is their best choice: Editorial". Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  27. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (April 19, 2016). "A Member of "Bernie's Army" Is Still Waiting for the Candidate's Help". Retrieved November 22, 2017 – via Slate.
  28. ^ Hook, Jim (September 16, 2016). "Mayor John Fetterman to speak to local Democrats". Public Opinion. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  29. ^ Fetterman, John (January 14, 2016). "Why I'm endorsing Bernie". Daily Kos.
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 9, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "McGinty defeats Sestak to win Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate". Philly Voice. April 26, 2016.
  32. ^ Fontaine, Tom. "Braddock mayor assumes role of uniter for Democratic Party". Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  33. ^ "Fetterman Files Financial Form". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  34. ^ "April 26, 2016 Primary Election Official Returns". Pennsylvania Secretary of State. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  35. ^ a b "Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, cargo shorts and all, is aiming for the suit-and-tie job of Lt. Gov". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  36. ^ "Ed Rendell endorses John Fetterman". December 4, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  37. ^ "Bartos, Fetterman declared winners of GOP, Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor". WTAE. May 16, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  38. ^ "Gov. Wolf gives victory speech with John Fetterman". WTAE. November 7, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  39. ^ Pilkington, Ed (July 15, 2009). "Coolest mayor in America? Why John Fetterman has his postcode tattooed on his arm". The Guardian. London. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  40. ^ Elliott, Stuart (June 23, 2010). "Levi's Features a Town Trying to Recover". New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  41. ^ "John Fetterman". HULU. May 7, 2012. Archived from the original on May 18, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  42. ^ "Panel - Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton - The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore | Comedy Central". Comedy Central. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  43. ^ "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore - July 19, 2016 - John Fetterman | Comedy Central". Comedy Central. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  44. ^ "In Pennsylvania, A Car Dealership Becomes An Industrial Home – Design*Sponge". Retrieved May 15, 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Pauline Abdullah
Mayor of Braddock
Succeeded by
Chardaé Jones
Preceded by
Mike Stack
Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike Stack
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Most recent