Super PAC Lobs First Attack in Pennsylvania Democratic Primary

  • Ad targets Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in open-seat Senate race
  • It cites Rep. Conor Lamb’s background as Marine, prosecutor

A super PAC backing Rep. Conor Lamb started airing the first negative TV ad in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania, portraying his top rival, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, as too liberal and a “risk we can’t afford.”

The spot was first aired Tuesday, six weeks before the May 17 primary and the same day Fetterman announced raising $3.1 million in the first quarter of 2022. That amount underscored his strength in the race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R), which is crucial for control of the Senate, currently split 50-50.

The ad by the pro-Lamb political action committee, Penn Progress, says “Conor Lamb’s a former prosecutor, and Marine. John Fetterman is a self-described Democratic Socialist” who will be an easy target for Republicans in the general election.

Screen shot of a TV ad aired by a super PAC supporting Rep. Conor Lamb (D) in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Fetterman, a tattooed, shorts-wearing former mayor of Braddock, Pa., gained national attention for his unusual appearance and populist views. Lamb who won tough races in competitive congressional districts outside of Pittsburgh, is viewed as a moderate. Both are from western Pennsylvania.

Several Republican candidates, including former hedge fund executive David McCormick and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, and their supporters have been spending millions of dollars on TV ads attacking each other.

“Conor Lamb may be the only person in Pennsylvania who saw the trash the Republican side is putting up on TV and said, ‘Yeah, we need more of that,’” Fetterman spokesman Joe Cavallo said in statement.

Fetterman has been leading for months in the Democratic primary, both in polls and fundraising. His campaign said it’s raised a total of more than $15 million and had $4.1 million in cash on hand at the March 31 first-quarter filing deadline. Lamb hasn’t announced his latest fundraising figures.

Andrew Small and Jack Fitzpatrick in Washington also contributed to this story.

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

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