The Lead

In Philly, Democratic U.S. Senate candidates battle for votes

By: - April 9, 2022 6:30 am
US Senate Candidates Collage

From left to right: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (Philadelphia Gay News photo collage).

(*This story was updated on Monday 5/9/22 at 1:26 p.m. to correct the list of endorsements for U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District)

By Michele Zipkin

PHILADELPHIA — As the primary race for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat enters its final stage, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, and Pa. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are competing for support from Philadelphia’s organizations and its 1.1 million registered voters.

Kenyatta has represented Philadelphia’s 181st district in the Pa. General Assembly since 2019. Some of his political priorities include fighting for equity and inclusion, raising the minimum wage, protecting the rights of workers, expanding our democracy and protecting voting rights, ensuring easy access to healthcare and working to stem the effects of climate change.

Lamb, D-17th District, was elected to Congress in a suburban Pittsburgh district that swayed more conservative. Despite a more moderate record, many of his priorities fall in line with typical Democratic values, including fighting to slow climate change, protecting voting rights, preventing gun violence and pushing for LGBTQ rights.

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As a resident and former mayor of Braddock, Pa., Fetterman’s political priorities include supporting unions, enacting criminal justice reform, giving second chances to those who have been incarcerated, fighting for climate justice, mitigating gun violence, fighting for LGBTQ rights and working to legalize marijuana.

Kenyatta has received over a dozen endorsements from Philadelphia organizations, wards and politicians, including District Council 33, Philadelphia’s largest municipal union; the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Temple Association of University Professionals; Teamsters Local 623; Philadelphia 1st Ward Democrats; Philadelphia 2nd Ward Democrats; Philadelphia 18th Ward Democrats; Neighborhood Networks; and Philadelphia City Councilmembers Mark Squilla, Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas.

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“I’ve known and worked with Malcolm for years as an community activist and as an elected official, and have seen his tireless work on behalf of middle class families first hand,” Gilmore Richardson said in a statement. “He puts people first. Malcolm represents the best of our next generation of leaders from Pennsylvania, and we need more voices like his in the U.S. Senate.”

In a report by the  Philadelphia Inquirer, Yvonne Sutton, political director for District Council 33, said that the union chose to endorse Kenyatta because of his ability to relate to and understand working-class people.

“He absolutely understands the plight of working families and how hard it is for them and how important it is for unions to exist,” Sutton told the Inquirer.

Lamb has garnered endorsements including from the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council, a group of 30 labor unions in Philly and the surrounding suburbs; the Philadelphia Democratic Party, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia Councilperson Curtis Jones, and the Fraternal Order of Police Philadelphia Lodge #5.

“[Lamb] understands that we work in the energy industry, that we want to protect the environment, but we also want to protect our jobs,” Ryan Boyer, who leads the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council, told the Inquirer. “And Pennsylvania has a perfect solution for energy, a bridge fuel, natural gas.”

In a Twitter post, Lamb wrote that he was proud to be endorsed by the Philadelphia Democratic Party. “They told me they’re counting on us to win this race and break the gridlock on issues like gun violence, housing and schools,” Lamb tweeted.

When asked about Philadelphia-area organizations that have endorsed Fetterman, his campaign did not respond.

Both Fetterman and Kenyatta spoke at the first of Liberty City LGBTQ Democratic Club’s two candidate nights on April 5, in hopes of nabbing an endorsement from the Philly-based political organization.

Michele Zipkin is a reporter for the Philadelphia Gay News, where this story first appeared

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