U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, at an appearance at Robert Morris University in Allegheny County (WikiMedia Commons)
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, has joined the already crowded race for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat in 2022.
In a video released Friday morning, the 37-year-old western Pennsylvania Democrat announced a bid to take over the seat currently held by the retiring GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Lehigh County.
Lamb, a Marine and former prosecutor, entered the political spotlight in 2018 after winning a special election for a Pittsburgh-area congressional seat by a razor sharp margin — 627 votes — in a district former President Donald Trump won in 2016. His victory foreshadowed Democrats’ big midterm wins.
“I talk with Pennsylvanians every day who have come to believe that our democracy is in crisis, and they’re right,” Lamb said in the clip. “The other side denies reality and worships Trump. They’re making it harder to vote and lying about our elections.”
Lamb has at times portrayed himself as a moderate in rhetoric and with his votes. But he has also cut a more aggressive tone attacking Trump in the months leading up to and after the 2020 election. That theme showed in his minute-long introductory ad, which referenced the former president and his unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election twice.
“Donald Trump knows how important Pennsylvania is. He’s come here to campaign against me three elections in a row,” Lamb said. “And each time, with your help, we’ve won.”
He added: “Our democracy was born in Pennsylvania, and I’m running because I believe Pennsylvania can save it.”
Lamb already has earned one big endorsement from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. His entrance into the race could also pose a geographic challenge to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who previously served as mayor of Braddock, a small milltown outside of Pittsburgh.
The rest of the candidates are from Philadelphia and its suburbs, which increasingly represent the biggest chunk of Democratic voters in the state.
Among the announced candidates are Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, surgeon Kevin Baumlin, and former Norristown councilman John McGuigan. State Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, also set up an exploratory committee for a potential U.S. Senate run.
The 2022 Senate race is projected to be among the most competitive in the country and could decide who controls the U.S. Senate.
Staff Reporter Marley Parish contributed to this story.
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