Pennsylvania’s Fetterman, Talking Tattoos, Seeks Senate Seat (1)

  • Democrat touts efforts to save abandoned town as mayor
  • Open seat is a top 2022 pickup opportunity for Democrats

(Updated with Sen. Shelby not seeking re-election in fourth paragraph and John Oliver’s mention of Fetterman in ninth paragraph. Also added photo of Oliver and Fetterman.)

John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s tattooed, shorts-wearing Democratic lieutenant governor, launched a run for the state’s open Senate seat Monday with a video on Twitter emphasizing his roots in a small town that felt abandoned.

Fetterman, who has a shaved head and goatee, is pushing up front his efforts as Braddock mayor from 2005 to 2019, including displaying the ink on his arms of the town’s ZIP code and the dates of murders there. He said former President Donald Trump’s appeal to people in towns like his needs to be countered.

“We cannot take any vote for granted,” he said.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s (D) Senate campaign announcement video

Pennsylvania is one of a number of states, along with North Carolina and Ohio, where Republican senators aren’t seeking re-election and where Democrats hope they can expand their majority, which for this Congress is dependent on the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. It’s the only one of the three carried last year by President Joe Biden. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) also announced Monday he won’t seek re-election in 2022, but a Republican will heavily favored to replace him.

Read More: Rob Portman’s Retirement Scrambles Senate Race Field in Ohio

Both parties’ primaries in the three competitive states are expected to be crowded. In Pennsylvania, other potential Democratic candidates include several House members, among them Rep. Conor Lamb. On the Republican side, real estate developer Jeff Bartos told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week he’s “very seriously considering” running.

Fetterman placed third in the 2016 Senate primary to take on Sen. Pat Toomey (R), who said last year he won’t run for a third term in 2022. In 2018, Fetterman won a five-way lieutenant governor primary, then handily defeated Bartos in the general election.

Screenshot of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” via YouTube
Fetterman got a shoutout from comedian John Oliver, who called him “Lt. Gov. Stone Cold” because of his likeness to retired professional wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Fetterman said 37,000 donors have supported his campaign since his announcement a month ago that he was considering a bid. His announcement linked to a page on ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising platform.

“This will be the most important Senate race in 2022, so we need to build as much early momentum as possible to kick our campaign off strong,” the page said.

Fetterman received national attention from comedian John Oliver after the politician criticized Rudy Giuliani’s press conference regarding the presidential vote at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping Company in Philadelphia. On HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” Oliver nicknamed Fetterman “Lt. Gov. Stone Cold” because of his physical likeness to former professional wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Fetterman filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission last week registering a Senate campaign committee for 2022. His 2016 Senate campaign raised more than $750,000.

Read More: Democratic State Lawmaker Launches Bid for Open N.C. Senate Seat

To contact the reporter on this story: Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyle Trygstad at; Bennett Roth at