Lt. Gov. John Fetterman failed to show at a scheduled event in Beaver County on Wednesday night following a chaotic scene at the state Senate in Harrisburg.
Beaver County Young Democrats had touted Fetterman’s planned appearance at a watch party they organized for the first Democratic presidential primary debate. The event at Whiskey Rhythm in Monaca was promoted in the local press and on social media.
Fetterman was presiding over a session of the state Senate on Wednesday when lawmakers began screaming at one another and trading accusations of procedural wrongdoing. The chaos erupted over a move by Republicans to end the General Assistance program, which provides low-income individuals with monthly cash payments of up to $200 to help cover the costs of basic necessities. Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to save the program as part of ongoing work on the budget, believing it plays a vital role in the state’s safety net for the poor and disabled. Republicans insist the program is fraught with abuse.
The dispute grabbed the attention of state-wide media outlets, with senators on both sides of the aisle saying they could not recall a more tumultuous scene.
About forty people had gathered at the Beaver County Young Democrats’ debate watch party on Wednesday night when it was announced Fetterman would not be attending due to pressing matters at the state capitol. Although they were disappointed Fetterman did not make the event, organizers said they understood that state governing took priority over national politics.
“The guy is working in Harrisburg, he’s a busy guy,” explained Joe Bosh, an event volunteer from Baden.
Among those in attendance were Democratic county treasurer candidate Lori Bohach and Julian Taylor, who ran an unsuccessful primary campaign for county commissioner.
Beaver County Young Democrats were among the more than 15 million viewers who watched Wednesday’s televised debate, the first of the 2020 presidential election cycle.
Bosh said he believes issues of fundamental justice will be on the minds of Democratic voters as they decide which of the two dozen candidates they want to support.
“People are really genuinely concerned about issues not just of social justice, but of economic justice too. I think those issues go hand in hand. What I’m hoping to see are candidates who recognize the link between those issues and have ambitious but realistic solutions about how we address them.”
Fetterman was last in Beaver County on March 31, when he brought his listening tour on legalizing marijuana to the campus of Penn State Beaver.
BeaverCountian.com contributor Matthew LaComb contributed to this report.