Four candidates compete in Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania

Four candidates are running in the Democratic primary for the open-seat U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania on May 17. Sen. Pat Toomey (R)—who was first elected to the Senate in 2010—announced on Oct. 5, 2020, that he would not run for re-election. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb have received the most campaign contributions and media attention. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Alexandria Khalil are also running.

Toomey’s seat is one of two U.S. Senate seats up for election held by a Republican in a state that President Joe Biden (D) carried in the 2020 presidential election. Pennsylvania is also one of six states represented by one Democratic and one Republican U.S. Senator. Christopher Wilson of Yahoo News wrote that the race for Toomey’s seat “might be the Democratic Party’s best chance to gain a Senate seat in the fall.”

Fetterman served as the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, from 2005 to 2019 and was elected lieutenant governor in 2018. He finished third in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Senate in 2016. Fetterman’s top campaign priorities are adopting a single-payer healthcare system, legalizing marijuana, and supporting LGBTQIA+ rights. His campaign website describes him as “a different kind of Democrat,” saying, “John doesn’t look like a typical politician, and more importantly, he doesn’t act like one.” Marc Levy of the Associated Press described Fetterman as “irreverent, blunt and, well, something to see. At 6 feet 8, he is tattooed and goateed, his head is clean shaven, and he is most often seen wearing shorts — even in winter — and casual work shirts.”

Lamb worked as an assistant U.S. attorney and was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by defeating Rick Saccone (R), 49.9% to 49.5%, in a March 2018 special election. He was re-elected in 2018 and 2020. Lamb identified his top legislative priorities on his campaign website as “protecting and expanding Medicare and Social Security, raising the minimum wage to $15, cutting prescription drug prices, creating and protecting jobs and strengthening unions.” Lamb described himself as practical and says h will work with both parties to get things done. He told City & State Pennsylvania, “I’m someone that has worked with Republicans when it’s necessary to, say, get an infrastructure bill passed and work with extremely progressive Democrats to try to get Build Back Better passed and include priorities that I really care about, like improving the Medicare program.”

Fetterman was endorsed by affiliates of the United Steelworkers and the United Food and Commercial Workers unions, the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws PAC. Lamb was endorsed by The Philadelphia Democratic Party, local chapters of the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D).

According to campaign finance reports through March 31, Fetterman has raised $15.1 million and spent $10.9 million on the race. Lamb has raised $5.7 million and spent $4.4 million.

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