If you ask the typical online conservative who’s been following the Pennsylvania Senate race closely what stands out the most about Democrat John Fetterman, they’ll probably mention Fetterman pulling a gun on a black jogger back in 2013. It’s a particularly unflattering portrait of the Democratic nominee:
In 2013, when he was mayor, Mr. Fetterman used his shotgun to stop an unarmed Black jogger and detain him, telling the police that he had heard shots fired near his home and spotted the man running, according to the police report. “Fetterman continued to yell and state that he knows this male was shooting,” the police report says. Two other people told police they had heard several shots as well.An officer who patted down the man, Christopher Miyares, then 28, found no weapons. The officer noted that Mr. Miyares was wearing running clothes and headphones. Mr. Miyares was released.
Fetterman wasn’t a cop, didn’t have a badge, and didn’t have any legal authority to detain that man at gunpoint. In a television interview shortly afterwords, Fetterman said, “I believe I did the right thing, but I may have broken the law during the course of it.” (Ya think?) At the time, local reporters asked, fairly, whether Fetterman escaped any investigation, charges, or consequences because of his position as mayor.
Let’s face it, if Fetterman had an “R” after his name instead of a “D,” he would be as widely decried as George Zimmerman, painted as a bullying white aspiring vigilante who regarded every black man he saw as a likely criminal. But because Fetterman is the Democratic nominee in a key race, that incident is just an innocent misunderstanding, instead of an abuse of power and authority.
The commercials from the Oz campaign and NRSC are painting Fetterman as soft on crime, and I’m sure they’ve got a lot of focus group and research data indicating that will be an effective message. But you have to wonder how the race would have looked if, a few months ago as Fetterman began his stroke recovery, Oz or the NRSC ran a bunch of “giant racist thug John Fetterman pulls his gun on innocent black men” ads on media targeting African-Americans.