Supporters cheer during an election night event for Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman

Democratic Voters Have Shown We Want Fettermans but the Party Keeps Giving Us Floridas

One of the most exciting wins of Tuesday’s midterm election was John Fetterman’s trouncing of Dr. Mehmet Oz in the race for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

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Throughout this entire election season (and long before that, really), Fetterman felt like the kind of Washington “outsider” Republicans are always trying to convince us they are—and not just because of his permanent uniform made up of a hoodie, shorts, and a scowl.

Fetterman has refused to play the typical Democratic politics game. He eschewed “respectability” and politeness in favor of pointing out how ridiculous his opponent was at every turn. He didn’t pretend to be a centrist out of fear of alienating conservative voters in a statewide election. He ran on a relatively radical position as an economic populist and didn’t back off of that, even in the reddest parts of Pennsylvania.

Fetterman’s win shows strong, unapologetically progressive politics are not scary to voters. So why does the Democratic Party refuse to accept that?

Just look at what happened in Florida on Tuesday. In the two major statewide races, the party ran Val Demings for Senate against incumbent Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist for governor against Ron DeSantis. Demings is a former police chief and Crist has spent the majority of his career in politics as a Republican.

These are not candidates that are going to spark excitement in voters and get them out to the polls—especially not in a midterm election. These are the candidates you run when you don’t trust voters to actually vote for Democrats and think you need to give them Republican policies and personalities, just with a blue tinge. And—surprise!—they both got annihilated.

https://twitter.com/_FleerUltra/status/1590176076311171072?s=20&t=EeYOrWXZOUo0Tizt5T-uYA

Of course, it’s not just as simple as “run radical candidates, win elections.” If that were the case, Beto O’Rourke would be the governor-elect of Texas right now. (And there’s also the issue of extreme racist gerrymandering to contend with in the vast majority of elections.) But I think we can do away with the idea that voters are turned off by progressive politics and that the only solution to a Republican candidate is a Republican Lite.

(image: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)


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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.