HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is ready to run for a different office, and the Berks County native is hoping his hometown roots will play a big part in helping him win.
Fetterman, a Democrat, released a new campaign ad, announcing his bid for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Republican Pat Toomey.
"You know Fetterman's style, with the 6', 8" bald, 300-pound former offensive lineman. Just picturing him in the Senate is kind of a fun thing to do," laughed Randall Newnham, a political science professor at Penn State Berks.
But, Newnham said, Fetterman's everyman, unconventional style, is even more of a reason the Republicans will come out swinging.
"Toomey was known as really representing big banks and other big contributors, and they won't wanna lose that," Newnham said, "so it's going to be a real battle royale on both sides."
In fact, the battle started brewing even before Fetterman's announcement. Former U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican who represented Berks and Chester counties for two terms in Congress, is rumored to be eyeing a run for the seat.
"If I ran," he tweeted last month, "I would smoke Fetterman in the suburbs."
That might be why Newnham said places like Berks County will be essential for a Fetterman win.
"It has been a while since we've had a Berks County linked-candidate for statewide office," Newnham said. "Berks County voted for Obama in 2008, but then against him in 2012 and then for Trump in both 2016 and 2020, so I think the Democrats are hoping that they can win back some here, and maybe somebody like here can help."
There's still a ways to go until 2022, but Newnham said he feels like the race will once again put Pennsylvania in the national political spotlight.
"It'll be interesting!" he smiled.