John Fetterman: Pennsylvania Primaries Encapsulate America’s Choice In The 2022 Midterms

John Fetterman
John Fetterman

Before the stroke that knocked him off the campaign trail, Senate candidate John Fetterman tossed out a question that defines the Democratic Party’s 2022 zeitgeist to a crowd-packed, pre-pandemic style, into a rowdy bar.

“Do we have any Joe Manchin Democrats in the room?” Fetterman, the Pennsylvania lieutenant governor, said, referring to the moderate West Virginian serving in the 50-50 Senate who has strangled liberal dreams in the first 16 months of President Joe Biden’s term.

“No? That keeps the streak alive,” said Fetterman, a hulking, hoody-and-shorts-wearing Democratic rising star, drawing gallows laughs from activists irked at their party’s struggles to pass a sweeping social reform agenda and who fear the return of Donald Trump-style extremism.

John Fetterman Campaigning Ahead Of Pennsylvania Primaries

John Fetterman was campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primaries in gritty York, where America’s founders celebrated the first Thanksgiving. The city nestles in the vast rural heartland between liberal Philadelphia and Pittsburgh known by the nickname Pennsyltucky for its staunch conservative leanings. It’s a deep red fiefdom where, in Biden’s words, his twice-impeached predecessor really is the “the MAGA king.”

Republicans in both the Senate and gubernatorial primaries here are competing to swear loyalty to Trump, fixated on the democracy-threatening lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Democrats have sparred over who’s the candidate best positioned to preserve their narrow Senate majority — John Fetterman or the more moderate Rep. Conor Lamb. The Senate seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, one of the traditional Republicans alienated from much of his party by Trump’s hostile takeover, maybe the best hope for Democrats to flip a GOP seat.

The 2022 election will take place in what Fetterman admitted was a “tough cycle” for Democrats, with Biden beset by low approval ratings, high inflation, and Pennsylvania gas prices averaging $4.60 a gallon, above the national average, as an energized Republican base seeks revenge for Trump’s 2020 defeat.

As both Democrats and Republicans fight battles over ideology, Pennsylvania’s statewide primaries have become a battle for the soul of both parties — and given the personal prestige and election fraud lies tossed into the race by Trump — for America’s democracy itself.

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