Meet John Fetterman: America’s Weirdest Senate Candidate Ever - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Meet John Fetterman: America’s Weirdest Senate Candidate Ever
Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman ( NBC10 Philadelphia/YouTube)

What’s six foot, eight inches, weighs about 300 pounds, wears tattoos, waves rainbow and marijuana flags, and points a shotgun at a black jogger? If you answered Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, go to the head of the class.

Fetterman is plainly and undeniably the weirdest major party nominee to the U.S. Senate that America has ever seen. With his hoodie and tattoos — his standard attire — he looks like a biker at a bar in western Pennsylvania. In fact, indulge me with this inspired image:

A close friend of mine, Tod, is a former police officer. He vividly recalls a 911 dispatch he will never forget: He and two other officers were called to a bar to deal with a massive hulk of a man, a prison escapee who had strewn a dozen guys across the floor and pool table. “Oh,” shrugged the giant at the cops, “they only sent three of you?” The officers sicced upon the giant a growling German shepherd named Dieter, who proceeded to fasten his jaws to the man’s testicles as the hulk resumed tossing human beings around the room.

Fetterman looks like that guy.

In fact, to many blue-collar folk in these rural environs, most of whom are President Donald Trump guys, that’s the appeal of Fetterman. He resembles an assembly-line MAGA Republican you’d see at the county fair, shoving down corn dogs and slurping a 32-ounce Mountain Dew. He is not your conventional senatorial candidate. Fetterman looks more like wrestlers King Kong Bundy or George “The Animal” Steele than Sens. Chuck Schumer or Mitch McConnell.

And yet, therein lies one of many weird things about Fetterman: He’s not a blue-collar dude at all. He’s a left-wing radical; in fact, he’s far to the left. He’s a Sen. Bernie Sanders Democrat.

Weird, just weird. And the images get weirder all the time.

Recent images of Fetterman that are making the rounds are photos of him flying from the balcony of his state office (he began serving as the state’s lieutenant governor in 2019) LGBTQ rainbow flags and pro-legalization marijuana flags. No, not the kind of banners that the hulk in the bar with Dieter swinging from his crotch would be sporting.

Those of us in Pennsylvania knew about Fetterman’s flags. When he was criticized for flying them in February 2021, he doubled down. He replaced them with bigger ones: “Since they passed a law that said I can’t fly my old [LGBTQ] + weed flags from my office balcony, I figured new, bigger ones would be legal,” Fetterman said on Twitter, alongside a photo of his new flags.

The man is a literal spectacle.

Before the flag fracas, social media was abuzz over the prison-like tattoos on his forearm that boast various numbers — nine of them — again making Fetterman look more like a hood in a hoodie than a senator. The tattooed numbers are said by Fetterman to represent the deaths of people that occurred during his tenure as mayor of Braddock (2006–2019), an old steel town borough outside of Pittsburgh up the Monongahela River. Odd, yes. And that’s aside from the strange controversy over the covered-up tattoo on his right forearm. Concealed with a black rectangle sometime during his first Senate bid in 2015, the original tattoo reportedly proclaimed, “I WILL MAKE YOU HURT.”

But maybe the weirdest report on Fetterman is one that hasn’t caused him as much political damage as one would expect, namely that, in 2013, as mayor of Braddock, he held at gunpoint a black man who was innocently jogging by. The proud progressive heard gunshots, saw a black man jogging by, chased after him, and held him at gunpoint. It was a remarkable performance by Mayor Fetterman, and it has received lots of publicity, including by mainstream liberal outlets like the New York Times, the screwy-left Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC News, and others. Fetterman brandished no less than a shotgun from his car.

“I ordered him twice, ‘Just stay right there,’ and he refused,” pleaded Fetterman to a local TV reporter. “I did remove a weapon from my car, but I did not point it at him. In fact, I didn’t even have a round chambered or the safety off.” He insisted: “I believe I did the right thing, but I may have broken the law during the course of it, and, you know, I’m certainly not above the law.”

Needless to say, if a conservative Republican had done something like this, he would be disgraced forever as a “racist white nationalist.” He would be toast. Did Trump ever pull a gun on a black man jogging through Manhattan?

The incident has been — or at least should be — an enormous blow to Fetterman in his bid to get black votes in Pennsylvania. I’d say it should likewise hurt his ability to get woke white votes, but we know what hypocrites liberals are. Liberals would vote for Fetterman even if he tackled Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams at a Walmart.

Not that progressives have nothing to cheer about with Fetterman, bringing me to yet another oddity about the man: This big, thuggish-looking dude is notoriously and dangerously soft on criminals. His fondness for releasing criminals — as he holds black joggers at bay — is another striking thing about him. Political ads blast his record on crime, an approach that is easy to achieve and requires no exaggeration by political opponents. Google “Fetterman crime” and just watch and read. His statements and actions during his time on the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, which he chaired as the commonwealth’s lieutenant governor, were wildly liberal and stupid. In 1988, Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis arguably lost the presidency over his statements and actions on crime. Fetterman is far worse.

There is a strange kind of lawlessness about Fetterman, not only in his public positions regarding releasing criminals and decriminalizing pot, but also in his own life. Aside from the gun display with the black jogger, there’s also the matter of Fetterman’s not paying taxes. The Washington Free Beacon recently reported something we’ve known about in this area for a long time (it was initially reported locally by WTAE-TV in April 2016):

Senate hopeful John Fetterman has cast himself as a champion of Pennsylvania’s public schools, telling voters he will “make sure our public schools have the funding they need.” But his tax records tell a different story. In fact, as mayor of Braddock, Pa., Fetterman failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes on time to his local school district, one of the poorest in the state.

Woodland Hills School District, which serves Braddock, placed nearly three-dozen tax liens against Fetterman totaling $18,692 for unpaid property taxes from 2006 to 2019, according to records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. The district sued Fetterman twice over the unpaid bills, resulting in default judgments against Fetterman totaling $3,769. Fetterman has since paid off the liens, but in some cases it took him more than six years to satisfy the debt.

Curious behavior for a socialist who’s all about big taxes and big government and big bucks to public schools. The big man for big government was a big-time tax-evader.

Fetterman is also a big-time bail-out guy. He has called for the cancellation of student debt and even aggressively campaigns for it. A hilarious ad run during the Steelers game this past weekend features a voiceover from a grumbling union worker complaining about how Fetterman wants to take money from hardworking guys who never went to college in order to bail out “blue-haired” baristas and “snowflakes” who majored in gender studies.

The ad is spot on.

In all, it is hard to find a bigger symbol of contradictions than Fetterman. And yet, this exceedingly weird candidate weirdly holds a lead over Republican challenger Mehmet Öz, or “Dr. Oz.” A friend of mine who campaigns for Oz insists that the Republican, given his TV doctor background, will appeal to suburban soccer moms in a way that has eluded Pennsylvania Republicans, and particularly Trump. Well, one would think so. And one also wouldn’t expect Fetterman to do well among black voters, given his antics in Braddock, nor among union hardhats, deer hunters, steelworkers, coalminers, bikers, truckers, frackers, independents, and police dogs like Dieter.

What a weird dude, and what a weird race.

Paul Kengor
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Paul Kengor is Editor of The American Spectator. Dr. Kengor is also a professor of political science at Grove City College, a senior academic fellow at the Center for Vision & Values, and the author of over a dozen books, including A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism, and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.
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