Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor to Run for Senate Seat Being Vacated by GOP’s Toomey

February 8, 2021 Updated: February 8, 2021

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor on Feb. 8 formally launched a run for the U.S. Senate, eying a seat being vacated by a Republican.

Democrat John Fetterman, in an announcement video, said he would “fight not for one part of Pennsylvania, not for one party of Pennsylvania, but for one Pennsylvania.”

“I’m running for the United States Senate for the same reason I ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 and mayor of Braddock 16 years ago, because I believe in a set of core truths,” he said in a written statement.

Fetterman, 51, has not held national office before. He began serving as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor in 2019.

He indicated he would immediately join fellow Democrats in pushing for the abolition of the filibuster if elected. He also said he would push for stronger health care, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and relaxing laws against marijuana.

“To get those kinds of important things passed, whether it’s climate change or things like that, you need to get rid of the filibuster,” Fetterman said during an appearance on MSNBC. “This idea that some random senator from a state with 600,000 people can hold up the democratic will and the sense of urgency that these policies are coming from, I don’t think that’s very democratic at its core.”

Fetterman will be joining the race to fill the seat held by outgoing Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who announced last year he wouldn’t be running for another term.

“My plan is to go back to the private sector,” Toomey said at the time.

Pennsylvania’s other U.S. Senate seat is held by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). Toomey has held office since 2011; Casey has been in office since 2007.

Each state has two senators.

pat toomey
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) leaves the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 30, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Toomey is one of four Republicans who won’t be seeking reelection. The others are Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). No Democrats are slated to retire.

Overall, Republicans are defending 20 seats. Democrats are defending 14.

Democrats flipped the Senate in the November 2020 elections. They enjoy a majority despite each party holding 50 seats because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tiebreaking votes as president of the Senate, as she did on Feb. 5 for a budget measure.

Democrat John McGuigan is the only other candidate to launch a 2022 campaign for the seat representing Pennsylvania. Several Republicans are exploring runs, including former lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Bartos.

“I am very seriously considering a run for the Senate,” Bartos told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “We’re taking the next steps toward making it official.”

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