An early guide to Pennsylvania’s 2022 Senate and governor’s primary election

A TV star, an attorney general, a lt. governor, and a former member of Congress will be among those competing for voters’ attention this spring

By: and - March 15, 2022 1:22 pm

Photo illustration by Justin Grimes (Photo via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0).

*This story was last updated on 4/18/22

Who’s on and off the 2022 ballot was finalized Tuesday, the deadline for candidates to hand in their petitions ahead of the May 17 primary election.

Below is a rundown of the candidates for office who submitted enough signatures to the Department of State to make it in front of the voters this spring for two big, open statewide races in Pennsylvania this year.

U.S. Senate

U.S Senators serve six-year terms, with no term limits. Their job is to craft, debate, and vote on legislation in the 100-member upper chamber of Congress. 

The chamber also must confirm federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, and any treaties with foreign powers that the president wishes to enter.

The position also comes with a big bully pulpit, as most political offices do. In recent elections, many presidential hopefuls have come from the Senate.

The seat is open because the incumbent, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from the Lehigh Valley, announced in 2020 he was not running for reelection.

Democrats

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (Source: Tom Wolf Flickr.)

John Fetterman

In Brief: 52-year-old former mayor of Braddock, a borough outside of Pittsburgh; now lieutenant governor (and chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons); likes cannabis and pride flags; dislikes party politics; on fracking, it’s hard to say.

Endorsements: United Steelworkers, UFCW 1776, national marijuana legalization group NORML, a handful of Democratic officials

Malcolm Kenyatta

In Brief: 31-year-old, openly gay state representative from Philadelphia; member of the governor’s Suicide Prevention Task Force; likes workers’ rights and supports raising the minimum wage; dislikes weak gun laws

Endorsements: American Federation of Teachers, Gloria Steinem, a handful of legislative Democrats, and a series of unions

Alex Khalil

In Brief: Jenkintown Borough Councilmember; member of the Jenkintown Education Foundation and Jenkintown Advisory Committee; IT specialist; former business owner with an existing practice in New Jersey that specializes in small businesses

Endorsements: N/A

Conor Lamb

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, at an appearance at Robert Morris University in Allegheny County (WikiMedia Commons)

In Brief: 37-year-old attorney by trade, now western Pennsylvania congressman; vocal moderate, particularly on fracking (he calls himself a “normal Democrat”); vocal critic of former President Donald Trump post-Jan. 6.

Endorsements: Building trade unions, National Organization of Women, oodles of Democratic elected officials, but not the state Democratic Party

Kevin Baumlin (Dropped out 3/31/22)

Republicans

Kathy Barnette

In Brief: 50-year-old Montgomery County resident and conservative media personality; lost a bid for U.S. House in 2020; promoted election conspiracy theories; likes Trump and supports restricting abortion access

Endorsements: State Sen. Doug Mastriano, former U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn, U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens, BlakPAC, Pennsylvania State Police FOP Pioneer Lodge #37, the Republican National Hispanic Assembly

Jeff Bartos

In Brief: 48-year-old Montgomery County businessman and 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor; co-founded the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund, a nonprofit providing loans to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns.

Jeff Bartos in his campaign-opening ad. (Bartos campaign)

Endorsements: Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, a handful of Senate and House Republicans, and a series of municipal leaders

George Bochetto

In Brief: A 69-year-old Philadelphia attorney who defended the Christopher Columbus statue in Philadelphia; his law firm helped on a brief to defend Trump during his second impeachment

Endorsements: Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman, the Fraternal Order of Police Philadelphia Lodge #5, PRIMO Magazine, the Italian Sons and Daughters of Philadelphia

Sean Gale

In Brief: 30-year-old Montgomery County attorney; running as a ticket with his brother, gubernatorial candidate Joe Gale; graduated from Temple University’s business school; earned degrees from Villanova and Drexel universities

Endorsements: Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale

David McCormick

In Brief: 56-year-old former CEO of the world’s largest hedge fund; longtime Connecticut resident; West Point graduate who served in the Gulf War; worked for the George W. Bush administration 

Endorsements: National Border Patrol Council, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former GOP Senate candidate Sean Parnell

Dr. Mehmet Oz, known best for hosting the “Dr. Oz Show” (Photo provided)

Mehmet Oz

In Brief: 61-year-old celebrity heart surgeon and talk show host; graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s medical and business schools; longtime New Jersey resident; registered to vote in Pennsylvania in 2020 at his in-laws’ address; supports abortion restrictions — but that wasn’t always the case 

Endorsements: U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, State Sen. Mike Regan, R-Cumberland, Sean Hannity, Ted Nugent

Carla Sands

In Brief: 61-year-old former ambassador to Denmark under the Trump administration; helped campaign and fundraise for the former president; Pennsylvania native, but relocated to California to run a real estate company founded by her late husband; moved to Cumberland County to run for U.S. Senate

Endorsements: State Reps. Greg Rothman and David Maloney, a handful of former Trump-era officials, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Governor

Pennsylvania’s governor serves a four-year term. They can only serve two, consecutive terms (but could technically come back for a third after waiting four years.)

As the commonwealth’s chief executive, the governor is the boss and sets policy for hundreds of thousands of public workers, from state troopers and DMV clerks to environmental permitting staff and unemployment and Medicaid caseworkers. The governor can also attempt to change the regulations or rules governing many of these agencies internally without legislative approval.

Each year, the governor must propose a budget, which is the starting place for negotiations with the Legislature over how much should be spent on competing priorities, whether public safety, schools, transit or the social safety net, among other topics.

With the wave of their pen, the governor can also sign into law or reject legislation on guns, abortion, taxes, and the environment, to name a few of the dozens of subjects policymakers may address.

And like the Senate, the governor’s mansion can also be a launching pad for even higher political ambitions.

The seat is open because the incumbent, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has served two terms and cannot seek reelection.

Democrats

Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks at a union rally on Oct. 16, 2020 in Pittsburgh. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Josh Shapiro

In Brief: 48-year-old attorney general; former state representative and Montgomery County commissioner; sued Trump administration over environmental, abortion policies; has negotiated compromises with health care giants and police unions; argues this history of taking on “big fights” makes him a strong choice

Endorsements: Pretty much every Democrat in the state, as well as Planned Parenthood and many unions 

Republicans

Lou Barletta

In Brief: 66-year-old former U.S. Congressman and Hazleton mayor; among Trump’s earliest congressional backers; immigration hawk who wants to court Trump-y Democrats; argues he can restore “Pennsylvania values”

Endorsements: A slew of state and local GOP elected officials 

Capital-Star Q+A with Barletta

Doug Mastriano speaks at an event
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference on Friday, April 1, 2022 in Camp Hill, Pa. next to fellow 2022 gubernatorial hopeful Lou Barletta. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Joe Gale

In Brief: 32-year-old Montgomery County Commissioner; voted against certifying 2020 election results; vocal critic of Republican establishment and mail-in voting; supports liquor privatization, running as a ticket with his brother, U.S. Senate candidate Sean Gale

Endorsements: Attorney Sean Gale

Capital-Star Q+A with Gale

Charlie Gerow

In Brief: 66-year-old political consultant and former lobbyist; argues he’s a conservative “happy warrior” equipped to beat Shapiro

Endorsements: U.S. Rep. G.T. Thompson, American Conservative Union, Newt Gingrich

Capital-Star Q+A with Gerow

Melissa Hart

In Brief: 59-year-old former congresswoman and state senator from western Pennsylvania; wants to be a negotiator-in-chief to cut taxes and expand school choice; doesn’t like bureaucracy and abortion

Endorsements: N/A

Capital-Star Q+A with Hart

Doug Mastriano

In Brief: 58-year-old veteran and state senator from Franklin County; rose to prominence opposing Wolf’s pandemic policies, then spread baseless claims of fraud about the 2020 election; was outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6; argues he’s the grassroots candidate for conservative change

Endorsements: Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Gun Owners of America; U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton;,Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, radio host Wendy Bell, Audit the Vote PA founders Toni Shuppe and Karen Taylor.

Bill McSwain

In Brief: 52-year-old veteran and former federal prosecutor; running on “law and order” and supporting school choice; backed by a big-money group that thinks he’s the best GOP candidate to win in November

Endorsements: Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, former gubernatorial candidate Jason Richey, former GOP Senate candidate Sean Parnell

Dave White

In Brief: 60-year-old former Delaware County councilman, union pipefitter, and HVAC contractor; likes voter ID and vocational education; dislikes critical race theory and regulations

Endorsements: Former Trump admin official Ric Grenell, state Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, and a number of GOP county parties

Nche Zama

In Brief: 65-year old Poconos heart surgeon; who immigrated from Cameroon to the US as a child; argues Pennsylvania is “dying” and needs a fresh face to tackle education and COVID-19 recovery

Endorsements: N/A

Capital-Star Q+A with Zama

Jason Richey (Dropped out 3/17/22)

Jake Corman

In Brief: The Centre County Republican currently serves as the president pro tempore of the Republican state Senate. Earlier the Senate Republican floor leader, his fingerprints have been on every major piece of legislation to clear the GOP-controlled Senate during the Wolf administration. He’s prided himself on working to block the Democratic administration’s initiatives. And he’s made headlines during the campaign for calling for the impeachment of Philadelphia’s Democratic District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Lieutenant Governor

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor serves a four-year term, and the position comes with few official responsibilities. They chair the state Board of Pardons, which votes on leniency to those in prison, and preside over the state Senate when it’s in session. In the latter role, the LG may cast a tie-breaking vote in the upper chamber, but only on procedural motions.

Otherwise, the lieutenant governor handles tasks as delegated by the governor. While the two are supposed to govern as a team, they are elected in separate primaries before running as a ticket in November. That has led to some awkward relationships, such as between Wolf and his former LG, Mike Stack.

Democrats

Austin Davis

In Brief: 32-year-old western Pennsylvania state representative; previously served as a top aide to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald; endorsed by Shapiro to be his running mate and governing partner; argues his working-class background makes him the ideal candidate to round out the ticket 

Endorsements: The Pennsylvania Democratic Party Josh Shapiro and many, but not all, of the people and organizations that endorsed him

Brian Sims

In Brief: 43-year-old Philadelphia state representative and former civil rights attorney; first openly gay candidate to win a state office in Pennsylvania; argues he’ll be an “adult in the room”

Endorsements: LGBTQ Victory Fund, Erie School Board President Tyler Titus

Ray Sosa

In Brief: 55-year-old Montgomery County banker and insurance agent; running as an outsider to “bring equality to our political process”

Endorsements: N/A

Republicans

John Brown

In Brief: 61-year-old former Northampton County executive

Endorsements: N/A

Jeff Coleman

In Brief: 46-year-old former Armstrong County state representative and political consultant; running on restoring civility to politics

Endorsements: U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey; former House Speaker Mike Turzai; former pardons board director Brandon Flood; many more state lawmakers

Teddy Daniels

In Brief: 44-year-old veteran and retired police officer from Wayne County, running mate to gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano; self-described pro-Trump, America First candidate

Endorsements: State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, Gen. Michael Flynn, Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers, Jan. 6 attendee Frank Scavo

Carrie DelRosso

In Brief: 46-year-old Allegheny County state representative and former Oakmont councilwoman; defeated longtime House Democratic leader in 2020; argues she brings a “can-do spirit” to Harrisburg

Endorsements: Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs; some Pittsburgh union locals, including IBEW, Boilermakers, and FOP

Russ Diamond

In Brief: 58-year-old Lebanon County state representative; vocal critic of Wolf’s pandemic response; argues he can build a strong bridge between a governor and the General Assembly

Endorsements: N/A

Chris Frye

In Brief: 33-year-old mayor of New Castle and former social worker; the city’s youngest and first Black chief executive; argues he brings fresh leadership to Harrisburg

Endorsements: N/A

James Jones

In Brief: Montgomery County businessman and veteran; a self-described “Frederick Douglas Conservative”

Endorsements: N/A

Rick Saccone

In Brief: 64-year-old former Allegheny County state representative and veteran; at the capitol  argues he will stand up for the U.S Constitution

Endorsements: Gun Owners of America

Clarice Schillinger

In Brief: 34-year-old Montgomery County activist who led school reopening push through Keeping Kids in School PAC; wants to advocate for “real people with real problems”

Endorsements: N/A

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.

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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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