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Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) greets supporters while campaigning for U.S. Senate at the UFCW Local 1776 KS headquarters in Plymouth Meeting on April 16, 2022.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) greets supporters while campaigning for U.S. Senate at the UFCW Local 1776 KS headquarters in Plymouth Meeting on April 16, 2022. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

'Bought and Paid for by You!': Fetterman Celebrates 200K Individual Donors in PA Primary

More than 99% of donors "have not given the maximum contribution and can give again and again," said the campaign.

Kenny Stancil

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has surpassed 200,000 individual donors since he launched his bid for the key battleground state's open U.S. Senate seat, his campaign announced Friday.

"Our campaign will always be funded the right way. No dirty money. No corporate PACs."

"From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each and every one of the 200,000 people who have donated to our campaign," Fetterman said in a statement. "Every day, our grassroots support across the commonwealth continues to grow. We are proud of the campaign we have built, and we'll keep fighting for every supporter and vote heading into Tuesday's primary."

Fetterman has dominated recent polls ahead of next week's May 17 primary. The progressive Democratic candidate currently holds double-digit leads over his two closest rivals—the corporate-friendly Congressman Conor Lamb and State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, also more aligned with the party's establishment wing.

While Fetterman's "dominance may seem surprising," wrote Christian Paz at Vox this week, "behind it is his success in addressing two pressing problems Democrats have struggled with nationally."

Those problems, according to Paz, are that the party's "primary voters tend to favor progressive policies more than general election voters, and their party seems unable to clearly define what it believes and who it's for: It wants to advance progressive ideas without being branded as leftist, and to strike a balance between elite priorities and blue-collar concerns."

Paz suggests Fetterman threads the needle in a unique way and the campaign makes a similar argument that the Lt. Governor has broad, crossover appeal.

"He's going everywhere," Joe Calvello, the campaign's communications director, told Vox. "John is a different type of Democrat, who can appeal to people in these forgotten towns—places that used to vote Democrat, but that Democrats don't even visit anymore. He can appeal to these people, because he shows up, and he listens."

According to his campaign, Fetterman has received more than 582,000 contributions from 200,000-plus individuals—the most in-state donors of any Pennslyvania primary candidate.

Long an outspoken advocate for economic, environmental, and social justice, the former 14-year mayor of Braddock—a Pittsburgh-area steel town hard-hit by deindustrialization—has received donations from every one of Pennsylvania's 67 counties and over 88% of its zip codes.

Like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during his 2016 and 2020 runs for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Fetterman is harnessing the power of thousands of ordinary working-class donors to take on the neoliberal establishment.

The average donation to Fetterman is $29. As a result, said his campaign, more than 99% of donors "have not given the maximum contribution and can give again and again."

Fetterman is the only candidate in the race who has won statewide in Pennsylvania. After defeating sitting Lt. Gov. Mike Stack in the 2018 Democratic primary, Fetterman joined Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's ticket for the general election and helped beat their Republican opponents by 17 percentage points.

Moreover, with Fetterman as his running mate, Wolf garnered almost one million more votes than he did in 2014. In addition, the pair was victorious in Beaver County, Berks County, Cumberland County, Erie County, and Luzerne County, all jurisdictions that Democrats have struggled to win in recent years.

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