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John Fetterman

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman stands with supporters on January 15, 2019 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Fetterman is running for U.S. Senate and will face Rep. Conor Lamb, a corporate Democrat, in the primary on May 17, 2022. (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

With Fetterman Crushing Lamb by 30 Points, Pro-Corporate Super PAC Readies 'Fox News Talking Points'

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman's campaign dismissed the super PAC's plan as "a desperate move."

Julia Conley

A super PAC supporting corporate Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb in his U.S. Senate run appears to be gearing up for an attack on his primary challenger Lt. Gov. John Fetterman—who's commanding a 30-point lead—over his support for widely backed progressive proposals.

Documents obtained by Politico reveal the super PAC, Penn Progress, attempting to blame Lamb's (D-Pa.) position well behind Fetterman on voters' lack of understanding that the candidate supports forward-thinking policies.

"[P]rimary voters don't yet see Fetterman as the liberal he is," said the group, according to Politico, which obtained a memo from Penn Progress to prospective donors. "For Conor Lamb to have a path in the primary, this dynamic needs to change."

"Conor hasn't been able to gain ground with Democrats, so he's decided to run like a Republican and use Fox News talking points to attack a fellow Democrat."

Penn Progress cited a survey taken in February by Impact Research, which showed 47% of likely voters intended to support Fetterman, who gained national prominence in recent years by leading a push to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Just 17% of voters said they supported Lamb. Thirteen percent were undecided.

The group also pointed to a poll showing that Fetterman led TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican, by nine points, while Lamb was only ahead by three.

Lamb's failure to gain traction with voters is due to a misunderstanding of Fetterman, Penn Progress claimed in the memo.

The super PAC, which is reportedly planning to host a call in which Lamb will speak to prospective donors, suggested the campaign should aggressively portray Fetterman as a "dangerous radical who proudly calls himself a socialist" and "supports far-left policies like a $34 trillion-dollar government takeover of healthcare."

While Fetterman has denied calling himself a socialist, he does support expanding Medicare to provide all Americans with government-funded healthcare—a stance backed by 71% of Pennsylvanians, according to Election Day polls taken in 2020.

Despite the popularity of Medicare for All and other policies embraced by Fetterman, said writer and researcher Will Stancil on Monday, "Fetterman's appeal is unintelligible to the Democratic consultant class."

The lieutenant governor "has been pretty unambiguous about what he believes and whose side he's on," Stancil added. "He doesn't pretend to agree with everyone about everything. He's not trying to be the shortest distance from the largest number of people. This is hugely appealing to many!"

Penn Progress also accused Fetterman of wanting "to release convicted felons back onto our streets," an apparent reference to his work as chair of the state Board of Pardons, where he has supported clemency applications from people serving life sentences.

Joe Calvello, a spokesperson for Fetterman, dismissed the super PAC's efforts to paint the lieutenant governor's views in a negative light as "a desperate move from a campaign that hasn't been able to raise the money on its own, and hasn't broken through with anyone except for some political insiders."

"Conor hasn't been able to gain ground with Democrats, so he's decided to run like a Republican and use Fox News talking points to attack a fellow Democrat," Calvello told Politico.

Since beginning his Senate campaign, Fetterman has relied heavily on small-dollar donors, reporting in January that he'd raised $2.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, including 100,000 contributions averaging $27 each.

Lamb has trailed Fetterman in fundraising so far, despite winning endorsements from the Philadelphia Democratic Party, the National Organization for Women's political action committee, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Lamb has angered progressives since he took office in 2018 by voting to make permanent former President Donald Trump's tax cuts for wealthy individuals and opposing Covid-19 economic relief.


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