Pa. Rep. Kenyatta will seek Democratic nod for Auditor General in 2024

Produced By: - March 9, 2023 12:47 pm

Pitching himself as a defender of working Pennsylvanians, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said Thursday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for state auditor general in 2024, making him one of the the first candidates out of the gate for the state’s three, elected row offices.

“It’s time to have an underdog as a watchdog for state government,” Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, said during a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol, where he took aim at the office’s current occupant, Republican Auditor General Tim DeFoor, whom he accused of being missing in action on leadership.

“We need to reinvigorate and reimagine the auditor general’s office,” Kenyatta, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022, said Thursday. 

Kenyatta, 32, first won election to the state House in 2018, and since has emerged as one of the chamber’s more vocally progressive members. He said Thursday that he plans to run for reelection to his North Philadelphia-based House seat even as he mounts his bid to become the state’s next elected fiscal watchdog.

“You don’t quit your job because you’re looking for a promotion,” Kenyatta told reporters.

DeFoor, the former Dauphin County controller, won an open seat for auditor general in 2020, marking the first time since 1992 that a Republican had held the office. With his win, he became the first candidate of color to win the office.

Fellow Republican Stacy Garrity won election as state treasurer that year, beating Democrat Joe Torsella, as the GOP captured two out of the three row offices.

In 2024, Democrats will be defending the state Attorney General’s Office, which was formerly held by now Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro. They’re also looking to take back the auditor general’s office and the Treasury Department.

“We must take back these seats as Democrats, and I think I can do it,” Kenyatta said Thursday, as he ticked off a list of high-profile Democratic backers, including Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia; Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, as well as what he said was the support of organized labor. 

Assuming he wins the party’s nomination next year, Kenyatta, who is Black and openly gay, could become the first Democrat of color to serve as auditor general. Democrats and Republicans have split control of the office over its 214-year existence.

Pennsylvania’s elected row offices traditionally have been seen as a springboard for politicians with bigger ambitions. 

Former Auditor General Bob Casey Jr., who later also served as state treasurer, parlayed his tenure into a successful bid for U.S. Senate. Former Treasurer Catherine Baker Knoll won election as lieutenant governor in 2002, and Shapiro, the two-term attorney general, won the 2022 race for governor in a landslide over Republican Doug Mastriano. 

In a Thursday statement obtained by ABC-27 in Harrisburg, DeFoor’s office said the Republican was “focused on performing audits and protecting Pennsylvania taxpayers.”

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.


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