Elections

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

by Colin Deppen of Spotlight PA |

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 April 6, 2022

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.

Now that a deadline for filing paperwork to get on a May 17 primary ballot has passed, these are the candidates moving forward in those contests.

Democrats

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (website | Twitter) has 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.

Jenkintown Borough Councilor Alexandria Khalil (website | Twitter) is a community activist whose campaign website lists support for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a “Marshall Plan for all Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (website | Twitter) launched his centrist primary bid in Pittsburgh in August. Some in the party, including endorsers, have positioned Lamb as the pragmatic, general election-focused choice.

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. Barnette’s prominence in the 2020 election denial movement gave her bid an early boost.

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.

George Bochetto (website | Twitter) is a longtime Philadelphia attorney known for waging legal battles with culture war significance, including over statues of Frank Rizzo and Christopher Columbus.

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.)

David McCormick (website | Facebook) is a former hedge fund CEO who grew up in Pennsylvania but most recently lived in Connecticut. His well-financed campaign could face pushback from inside the GOP over McCormick’s past criticism of “America First” ideals and former President Donald Trump.

Mehmet Oz (website | Facebook) is a surgeon and TV celebrity who said he was driven to run because the pandemic “became an excuse for government and elite thinkers who controlled the means of communication … to suspend debate.” He is a longtime New Jersey resident.

Carla Sands (website | 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.

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