“There is nothing written on a tablet somewhere that America has to succeed” Kenyatta told MSNBC host Joy Reid. He promised a campaign focused on bringing together Black people, young people, and suburbanites skeptical of the Republican Party.
He joins Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and former Norristown borough councilor John McGuigan in the race as the two announced candidates who hop to replace retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in the federal upper chamber.
Kenyatta, who is Black and openly gay, will bring diversity to the burgeoning field of contenders, while sharing some of Fetterman’s strengths as a sharp-elbowed social media user and frequent cable TV guest.
First elected in 2018, Kenyatta has attracted attention for viral posts showing his booming oration in the House, touching on such topics as raising the minimum wage and reforming state policing laws, as well as poking holes in claims of election fraud.
In fact, a House GOP committee chair nearly ejected him from a committee meeting last year over the latter.
Kenyatta also endorsed President Joe Biden early on, even stumping for Biden in Iowa, and was featured as a Democratic rising star during the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Speaking on MSNBC, Kenyatta named raising the minimum wage, student loan relief, and clean energy as top priorities. He added that he had already secured endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers, a union representing educators in many urban school districts such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as the Working Families Party, a progressive third party active in Philly city politics.
“This isn’t about a cult of personality, it’s about working people,” Kenyatta said.
Other Democrats are still rumored to be mulling a run. They include U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-6th District), Conor Lamb (D-17th District,), and Brenden Boyle (D-2nd District), as well as Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh.
The eventual Republican nominee is also unknown. At least a dozen individuals, including former Eastern District U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, former Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), and U.S. Rep. Guy Reschentahler (R-14th) District have been mentioned as potential candidates.
Stephen Caruso is a reporter with the Pennsylvania Capital-Star where this story first appeared.