Sen. Fetterman loses three key staffers in a month after denouncing the 'progressive' leftist label

 March 30, 2024

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) has shocked and even angered some of his fellow Democrats and leftist supporters by ditching the "progressive" label and espousing non-leftist views on issues like illegal immigration and the Israel-Hamas war, among other things.

That appears to have resulted in the resignation of at least three of the Pennsylvania senator's top communications staffers over the past month, with two of them immediately hiring on with new employers that are unabashedly "progressive" in their ideology, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Those three now-former staffers include Deputy Communications Director Nick Gavio, press and digital aide Emma Mustion, and Communications Director Joe Calvello.

Gavio heads for minor progressive party; Mustion now working for Sen. Casey

The most recent staffer to depart Sen. Fetterman's office is Gavio, who formally resigned on Friday to take on a similar job with the progressive Working Families Party, a decidedly left-leaning minor political party trying to establish and expand its presence in Pennsylvania and more broadly across the region.

In a Friday X post, Gavio said that he was "very excited to be joining @WorkingFamilies as mid-atlantic comms director to play a small part in building on their massive 2023 wins across PA & the region."

About two weeks earlier, Mustion announced that she had accepted a job with the re-election campaign of Pennsylvania's other more senior U.S. senator, Bob Casey.

"Happy to share I'm back in the great state of PA as Press Secretary for the @Bob_Casey for Senate campaign," she wrote in a March 13 X post. "Excited to be a part of the fight to re-elect a champion for Pennsylvanians and a critical Dem seat in the Senate. Let's get to work!"

Calvello now working for Chicago's progressive mayor

Arguably the biggest loss for Sen. Fetterman was that of Calvello, his former communications director, who was revealed to have accepted a job as a top staffer for Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, whom he described in a statement as a "true progressive."

A March 7 press release from the mayor's office announced that Calvello had been hired as the "Chief Strategy Officer" for the mayor, and Johnson said in a statement, "Joe is a Chicago area native who brings a breadth of experience and expertise to our administration and will be instrumental in guiding our strategic vision for the City of Chicago."

The release noted that in addition to his prior work for Fetterman's office and 2022 campaign, Calvello previously served on the 2020 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), worked for Planned Parenthood during the 2020 general election, and aided the 2018 campaign of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

"It’s an absolute honor and a privilege to come to Chicago and serve the people of this great city," Calvello said in a statement. "Mayor Johnson is a true progressive who is committed to fighting for the working people and families of the City of Chicago, and I am deeply honored to join his administration and get to work. I am going to be laser focused on driving the Mayor’s vision for the City of Chicago, a vision that will cement Chicago as a city that truly works for everyone."

"I'm not a progressive"

The Inquirer suggested that at least two of those three departures from Sen. Fetterman's staff, Calvello and Gavio, were due to the senator's apparent rejection of the "progressive" leftist label he once proudly accepted as a left-leaning blue-collar populist outsider.

Yet, over the past several months, Fetterman has adamantly supported Israel in its grueling fight against Hamas in Gaza, has insistently and repeatedly demanded that criminally indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) resign or be expelled from the Senate, and has called for tougher enforcement of the border and laws against illegal immigration.

"I’m not a progressive," Fetterman told NBC News in December. "I just think I’m a Democrat that is very committed to choice and other things. But with Israel, I’m going to be on the right side of that. And immigration is something near and dear to me, and I think we do have to effectively address it as well."

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