Fight fans familiar with the Clout School of Political Pugilism will recall our oft-repeated ringside advice: Always punch up.
That means throw your punches at the largest possible target. Forget the small fries.
John Fetterman, the 6-foot-8 mayor of Braddock, a struggling steel town near Pittsburgh, was warming up his jabs, hooks, and uppercuts this week as he announced his campaign for lieutenant governor against President Trump.
What? You thought Fetterman was going to land his blows on Lt. Gov. Mike Stack III, the incumbent in the Democratic primary?
Fetterman, while visiting Philly this week, spent as little time as possible discussing Stack, a Philadelphia ward leader who has taken a beating for seven months, since it emerged that he and his wife had berated state troopers and staffers employed to protect and serve them.
"This campaign for me is never about his alleged misconduct," Fetterman said of Stack. "Nothing negative or personal is going to come from this campaign."
He was far more eager to discuss his history of criticizing Trump, which dates to Fetterman's unsuccessful run in last year's Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Fetterman opened a 15-minute speech to about 100 supporters Wednesday evening at the Irish Pub with a shout-out to a guy wearing one of his signature campaign T-shirts from last year.
The shirt said: "Trump is a jagoff. #TeamFetterman."
Jagoff is Pittsburgh-ese for "a foolish, objectionable, or obnoxious person," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which added the Western Pennsylvania put-down last year to the list of definitions it has spent 160 years compiling.
Fetterman, meeting with reporters Wednesday, and again at the Irish Pub, complained that Trump had campaigned during last year's general election in Monessen, another struggling steel town 18 miles south of Braddock.
"He had a major campaign event there and I was, like, what the hell is going on here?" Fetterman told his Irish Pub crowd. "Some people took a chance and rolled the dice on a charlatan and a man that had never once cared about places and people like this."
Leib love report
Clout is going to paraphrase Alfred Lord Tennyson here when we say "Better to have loved and lost than to have never gotten two weeks of earned media."
Our pal Anna Orso wrote a story early last week about the complicated dating lives between people who love or loathe Trump. Bryan Leib, treasurer of the Philadelphia Young Republicans and an aspiring politician, served as Exhibit A, describing how a date "literally got up and left" when he told her he voted for Trump.
We found Leib in City Hall on Thursday and asked him what two weeks of crazy was like. Upside: A lot of support from friends. Downside: A lot of vile hate spewed at him on social media.
But the big question: Is he getting more dates these days? Why, yes, Leib told us, he sure is.
It’s that time of year…
Philadelphia's politicians will dust off their finest duds and head out to the party place to see and be seen. No, not Pennsylvania Society, the annual boozy bacchanalia of ambition and regret in Manhattan. We're talking about the Pattison Leader Ball, the annual gathering of millennials in politics who don't make the trip to New York.
Typically, The Pattison Leader Ball — started in 2013 and named for two of the youngest governors in Pennsylvania's history — happens on the same Saturday evening as Pennsylvania Society's black-tie gala. But the New York party was moved up a week this year, which means party-minded people can hit both affairs.
Have fun at both. And be on your best behavior. Just kidding. Send any party brawls and other gossip our way.
Staff writer Chris Brennan contributed to this column. Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.