Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman said he was against “tough on crime” policies and “very excited” to support embattled Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s criminal justice reforms in a bid for a far-left group’s endorsement for lieutenant governor in early 2018.
In a questionnaire issued by the activist group Reclaim Philadelphia, Fetterman vowed to use the lieutenant governor’s office “as a bully pulpit” for criminal justice reform.
“There is a real opportunity to build a statewide platform that elevates and exposes the damage created by the school-to-prison pipeline, the prison industrial complex, and ‘tough on crime’ policies like ‘Stop and Frisk’ and cash bail,” he wrote.
Fetterman, who went on to win the lieutenant governor’s race that year, is now running against Republican celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) for the open Senate seat, and criticism of his support for soft-on-crime policies, has narrowed his polling lead.
The most recent RealClearPolitics average shows that Fetterman’s 9-percentage point lead over Oz from over the summer has shrunk to 3.7 percentage points. Earlier this month, the Cook Political Report also reclassified the race as a “toss-up” from “Lean Democrat.”
Both Fetterman’s support of the George Soros-backed Krasner — who is now facing impeachment and is being accused of “dereliction of duty” over a crime wave that has hit the city since his election — and the lieutenant governor’s tenure on the Keystone State’s Board of Prisons, have been highlighted by the GOP and the Oz campaign in recent ads.
A Republican group affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has run ads centered on an August report that Fetterman was the lone member of the Board of Prisons that voted to free a man serving a life sentence for murder after pleading guilty to killing a 18-year-old for drug money.
The Oz campaign has also hammered Fetterman for his endorsement of Krasner, who has seen murders rise from 353 when he took office in 2018 to 562 last year.
Fetterman has apparently backtracked on some of his criminal justice reform rhetoric as a result of his polling drop, notably wiping references to Black Lives Matter from his website.
Fetterman’s campaign did not immediately return requests for comment.