The Lead

Montgomery County Democrat Val Arkoosh suspends U.S. Senate campaign

By: - February 4, 2022 11:36 am

Val Arkoosh, a Montgomery County commissioner, is running to fill Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat in 2022. (Photo provided)

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh is dropping her bid for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, her campaign said Friday.

“My name may not be on the ballot, but make no mistake, I will still be fighting every day to help win this election,” Arkoosh, a physician and the only woman in the Democratic primary field, said in a statement. “There’s too much at stake.”

Arkoosh, 61, launched her campaign last spring, with pandemic recovery, raising the minimum wage, climate action, and lowing the cost of health care at the center of her platform. Arkoosh, who chairs the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, was endorsed by EMILY’s List, a women’s group that works to elect Democratic female candidates to office.

She earned a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and worked for the National Physicians Alliance, helping advocate for the Affordable Care Act under former President Barack Obama’s administration.

But despite representing the third-largest county in Pennsylvania, she struggled to gain traction throughout the campaign. Friday’s announcement comes nearly a week after the Democratic State Committee met to decide endorsements for the 2022 races. 

Though the state committee did not endorse any of the candidates running to fill the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, Arkoosh did not move on to the second round of voting in the endorsement process, receiving only 17 votes out of about 300 party members. 

In her announcement, Arkoosh did not acknowledge support for a specific candidate in the race, which includes U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia.

But she did express a commitment to “doing whatever I can to ensure we flip this Senate seat in November.”

“The stakes are just too high,” she said.

With Arkoosh dropping out of the race, the list of Democratic candidates is men-only. If elected, Kenyatta would be Pennsylvania’s first Black and openly gay senator.

On the Republican side, the U.S. Senate race includes Jeff Bartos, a Montgomery County real estate developer, Carla Sands, a former ambassador to Denmark under the Trump administration, Kathy Barnette, a Montgomery County conservative, Mehmet Oz, a celebrity physician, and David McCormick, the former chief executive of Bridgewater Associates.

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Marley Parish
Marley Parish

A Pennsylvania native, Marley Parish covers the Senate for the Capital-Star. She previously reported on government, education and community issues for the Centre Daily Times and has a background in writing, editing and design. A graduate of Allegheny College, Marley served as editor of the campus newspaper, where she also covered everything from student government to college sports.

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