Who Is John Fetterman, Pa.'s Mountain-Sized Democrat Running for U.S. Senate?

Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor comes in Paul Bunyan proportions and made his mark as mayor of a Rust Belt city outside Pittsburgh. More recently, he's become one of the most progressive politicians in the state.

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The first candidate to officially launch a campaign for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat in 2022 is a man nearly seven feet tall, with a political career founded in a blue-collar city but more recently known for pushing LGBTQ rights and legal marijuana.

John Fetterman is actually not as big in person as the measuring stick would have you believe. It's a testament to his political savvy that he fits in at a biker bar as easily as when he presides over the Pennsylvania General Assembly as lieutenant governor.

Here are some answers to unusual dimensions of one of the state's most charismatic leaders.

How Tall Is John Fetterman?

Six feet, nine inches. The 51-year-old who graduated from Albright College and has a master's degree from Harvard University towers over his colleague, Gov. Tom Wolf, as well as everyone else in the Capitol building in Harrisburg.

He may be most famous for his bulk -- and his bald head -- but his rise from small city mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, to second-in-command of the state's executive branch has made him a well-known figure in national political circles.

Senate 2016 Pennsylvania
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What Are John Fetterman's Politics?

He comes from a blue-collar background, growing up in York, and spent 16 years as mayor of Braddock, a rough-and-tumble city that Fetterman self-immortalized by tattooing its zip code on his left forearm.

Yet he has emerged as a leading progressive in Pennsylvania, most recently making waves in Harrisburg for flying a rainbow flag and a pro-marijuana flag outside his office at the Capitol. Republican lawmakers forced him to remove the flags.

Fetterman is also a big proponent of criminal justice reform, and has called for remaking the bail and probation systems in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is throwing his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022. Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey announced he won't run for reelection.

How Did Fetterman Become Lieutenant Governor?

Fetterman was elected as Gov. Tom Wolf's running mate in 2018, defeating the incumbent lieutenant governor, Mike Stack, in the Democratic primary. Wolf and Fetterman went on to defeat Republican challengers, Scott Wagner and Jeff Bartos.

Fetterman's rise in Pennsylvania politics started back in 2005 when he won the race for Braddock mayor by a single vote. He had moved to the city while working for AmeriCorps and started a non-profit. He served four terms, and was occasionally in the spotlight for his work to reduce violence and reinvigorate the economy of the Rust Belt city ravaged by the loss of jobs and industry.

Fetterman was featured in the New York Times and on a Levi Jeans commercial, and appeared on The Colbert Report.

He rose to statewide prominence in 2016 when he first ran for U.S. Senate, but lost in the Democratic primary.

Why Is John Fetterman Running for U.S. Senate?

He all but promised to try again after his 2016 loss, and the path has opened up for the Senate seat currently occupied by Pat Toomey, since Toomey announced last year that he would not seek re-election in 2022 to a third term.

Fetterman is the first candidate in what is expected to be a very crowded field of both Democrats and Republicans trying for one of the three most coveted elected offices in Pennsylvania.

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