Updated 1:43 p.m.
Shill and sellout are not words generally associated with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman.
His national profile is built on progressive populism and being the “coolest mayor in America.” Normally, when looking for words to describe Fetterman, one might go with progressive or, honestly, tall.
But, occasionally, Fetterman does get called the former set online because he endorsed Democrats Hillary Clinton and Katie McGinty.
“It hurts my heart if they think if I’m a shill. I obviously disagree with that. I’d just ask them to consider reality. I ran the most progressive campaign in the Senate primary, and I came up short,” Fetterman said last week in his Braddock home.
How did we get here? (the primary feels like ages ago)
In the primary race, Fetterman postured himself as the “most progressive” and grassroots candidate. He offered sharp criticism to his then-rivals Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak. To the Philadelphia Inquirer, he said the two were “just spouting off talking points.”
He was the only U.S. Senate candidate, in any race, to endorse Bernie Sanders for president. The Fetterman campaign touted that he was the only statewide candidate to endorse Sanders nationally, an assertion that Billy Penn rated as “True,” but with caveats on the Politifact Truth-O-Meter. Sanders notably failed to return the favor.
Like Sanders, Fetterman did not win the nomination he sought. Unlike Sanders, he did win Allegheny County, with 45 percent of the vote in the four-way contest. He pulled in just-shy of 20 percent of the vote statewide.
Fetterman was greatly outspent in the campaign. The Democratic Party threw a lot of money and support behind McGinty. The spending, as one would expect, did not slow down once McGinty moved on to face a Republican incumbent. The race is the most expensive in history, and Billy Penn looked at the money that’s poured in.
“We have to fix Citizen’s United,” Fetterman said. “How on earth can anything function normally in a democratic sense when one Senate seat costs so much.“