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Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Fetterman eyes run for US Senate

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Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is laying the groundwork for a possible run for U.S. Senate in 2022. Fetterman, who’s a Democrat, filed the necessary paperwork Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance Live, Fetterman said an official announcement on his candidacy would be “forthcoming fairly shortly.” If he joins the race, Fetterman would run to fill the seat that will be vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who announced in the fall that he will retire at the end of his term.

Fetterman came in third in 2016′s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate before running successfully for lieutenant governor in 2018.

Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race could be one of the nation’s most hotly contested in the mid-term elections and a chance for Democrats to pick up a seat.

In this Sept. 21, 2018 photo Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman speaks at a campaign rally for Pennsylvania candidates in Philadelphia. Fetterman, Pennsylvania's newly elected lieutenant governor, says he does not plan to move into the lavish state-owned official residence and hopes to make it available for some type of public use. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Sept. 21, 2018 photo Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman speaks at a campaign rally for Pennsylvania candidates in Philadelphia. Fetterman, Pennsylvania's newly elected lieutenant governor, says he does not plan to move into the lavish state-owned official residence and hopes to make it available for some type of public use. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Fetterman said while the political “dynamic”may be different now versus when he ran five years ago, he still backs the same issues. Namely, “common sense drug law reforms like legalizing marijuana, equal protection under the law for members of our LGBTQIA communities,” and a $15 an hour minimum wage, which is not included in the budget resolution that Senate Democrats passed Friday.

The plan to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, was removed after senators backed an amendment from Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who said raising the wage on small businesses during the pandemic would be “devastating.”

Fetterman says he’s in favor of raising the minimum wage, whether there’s a pandemic or not.

“Businesses are struggling, but many of them aren’t,” he said. “I mean, some businesses are having record profits. Maybe we should dial back business salaries of the CEOs. No one seems to worry that [Amazon’s] Jeff Bezos become overly enriched during this pandemic, and we're worrying about raising a minimum wage to $15 an hour?”

He called the $7.25 minimum wage in his home state of Pennsylvania “unacceptable” and pointed to Target (TGT) and Hobby Lobby as examples of companies that have already raised wages in the Quaker state to $15 an hour or more.

A worker leaves the U.S Steel Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock, Pa., Thursday, March 26, 2020. The plant was exempted from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's order on Monday for "non-life sustaining" businesses to close. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A worker leaves the U.S Steel Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock, Pa., Thursday, March 26, 2020. The plant was exempted from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's order on Monday for "non-life sustaining" businesses to close. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Before becoming Lt. Gov., Fetterman was the mayor of Braddock, a historic economically depressed steel mill town in a suburb of Pittsburgh.

While he acknowledges the need for environmental protection policies, Fetterman says any move away from fossil fuels — something President Joe Biden has promised — should be gradual, especially in a state like Pennsylvania, where many jobs still depend on oil or natural gas.

“When some 40% or more of our nation's electricity is generated by natural gas, we can't just, you know, flip a switch and go wind powered overnight. It's going to require a commitment and a transition to green renewable energy,” he said. “Pennsylvania absolutely has a history of having the workers be left behind or abandoned. And I certainly would never allow that to happen.”

Alexis Christoforous is an anchor on Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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