Bernie Sanders on John Fetterman, Pittsburgh politics and the rising tide of Democratic Socialism

This file photo shows Senator Bernie Sanders addresses a crowd of supporters at University of Pittsburgh's Fitzgerald Field House.

Since he campaigned here in his losing bid for the presidency two years ago, Bernie Sanders’s brand of politics has surged in the Pittsburgh area.

The local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is growing in size and influence — with two of its members knocking off longtime incumbents in state House primaries recently — and the person running for the state’s second-in-command is loyal to its progressive message.

“What does it tell me? It tells me that when candidates run on a progressive agenda, when they mount strong grassroots campaigns involving in this case hundreds of people, there’s no way they’re going to lose,” Mr. Sanders told the Post-Gazette in an interview Thursday.

When the Vermont senator and Democratic Socialist visits Pittsburgh this Sunday to attend a teachers’ union conference and rally with lieutenant governor candidate John Fetterman, he’ll likely ride in on a wave of momentum from the area’s leftward shift in politics, but come equipped with a message of urgency: that in the age of Donald Trump, candidates must fight even harder for the Democratic Socialist ideals of health care for all, raising the minimum wage and reforming the criminal justice system.

Mr. Sanders praised Mr. Fetterman for believing in that platform, and called him the “candidate of the working people” in his race alongside incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf against the Republican ticket of Scott Wagner and Jeff Bartos. He said the Braddock Mayor is aware of the difficulties facing the average worker, including that real wages are declining despite low unemployment.

“I think John is cognizant of all that, and is a candidate for lieutenant governor who is going to do his best not only to fight…

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