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Elections

Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race: What we know so far

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The race is on in Pennsylvania for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's open seat, with a large field of interested candidates and lots of money in the mix.
JOSE F. MORENO / Philadelphia Inquirer

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Last updated Oct. 7, 2021

One of Pennsylvania’s two U.S. Senate seats is up for grabs in 2022 as two-term Republican incumbent Pat Toomey prepares to step aside and the state braces for a particularly high-stakes election year.

The Senate opening has drawn plenty of interest from Democrats looking to shore up a narrow congressional majority, Republicans looking to limit key aspects of the Biden agenda, and observers believing the seat is likely to flip or too close to call. The race will be exceedingly expensive either way.

Democrats

With less than a year to go until the primary (unless the date is changed because of redistricting issues), several higher-profile Democrats are officially in the running — others are rumored to be waiting in the wings.

Montgomery County Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh (website | Twitter) is in the former category and running to be the first woman senator from Pennsylvania. She brings a high-profile Emily’s List endorsement to the race and a significant amount of cash on hand.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (website | Twitter) has also declared his second run for Toomey’s seat in six years, this time with burgeoning household-name status, way more money, and more scrutiny, too.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (website | Twitter) — the first openly gay Black man to be elected to the state legislature — brings rising-star momentum, progressive bona fides, and a string of viral moments to compete with Fetterman’s fundraising juggernaut.

State Sen. Sharif Street (website | Twitter) — the pro-gun reform, pro-retail politics Philadelphia lawmaker — formally announced his intent to run but has yet to file a financial report with the FEC. Pennsylvania hasn’t had a Black U.S. senator before.

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (website | Twitter) launched his centrist primary bid in Pittsburgh in August. Lamb’s interest comes with his current job possibly set to be drawn out of existence.

The other declared Democratic candidates are:

  • Kevin Baumlin, chief of emergency and urgent care services at Pennsylvania Hospital | website

  • Larry Johnson, a Beaver County attorney, teacher, and “progressive conservatism” advocate | Twitter

  • Alexandria Khalil, member of Jenkintown Borough Council | website

  • John McGuigan, former president of the Norristown Municipal Council | website

  • Kyle Norton, a Philadelphia-based campus safety and security consultant | Twitter

  • Alan Shank, an Indiana County native and self-proclaimed “commonsensist” | website

  • Lew Tapera, a Montgomery County native, businessman, and retail worker | website

Republicans

Kathy Barnette (website | Twitter) of Montgomery County is a Fox News fixture and former congressional candidate who embodies the pro-Trump aspirations some in the GOP have for Toomey’s successor.

Jeff Bartos (website | Twitter) is a Montgomery County-based real estate developer who lost the race for lieutenant governor to Fetterman in 2018 and comes to this very costly U.S. Senate race with the backing of a monied new PAC and more moderate footing.

Sean Gale (website | Facebook) is a Montgomery County-based attorney who’s running on a pro-Trump platform with unfettered disdain for the seat’s current occupant, Toomey, whom Gale calls a “RINO” and “swamp rat.” (Toomey voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol siege.)

Sean Parnell (website | Twitter) is a Trump critic-turned-Trump favorite who earned the former president’s blessing in a failed bid for Conor Lamb’s 17th congressional district seat in 2020 and who’s trading barbs with Bartos this time over who’s farther to the right.

Carla Sands (Twitter) is Trump’s former ambassador to Denmark and a well-connected and well-financed investment CEO who’s from Cumberland County but spent much of her adult life in California.

The other declared Republican candidates are:

  • John DeBellis, small business owner and “excessive regulations” opponent from Allegheny County | website

  • Bobby Jeffries, former congressional candidate and current MAGA millennial | website

  • Ronald Johnson, former Fredonia council member and current pro-gun, “America first” Oil City resident | Facebook

  • Martin Rosenfeld, former deputy sheriff and accountant from Elk County | website

  • Everett Stern, banking whistleblower and failed independent candidate for Toomey’s seat in 2016 | website

  • David Xu, U.S. Army veteran and and small business owner | website

Other

Erik Chase Gerhardt, a Montgomery County master carpenter who’s seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination | website

Steve Scheetz, a past chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania and former congressional candidate, is also seeking the Libertarian Party’s primary nod | Facebook

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