U.S. Senate: John Fetterman, Malcolm Kenyatta, Conor Lamb, and Alexandria Khalil | Election Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

U.S. Senate: John Fetterman, Malcolm Kenyatta, Conor Lamb, and Alexandria Khalil

click to enlarge CP ILLUSTRATION: LUCY CHEN
CP Illustration: Lucy Chen
Four Democratic challengers are competing for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Republican Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh), who is retiring at the end of his term. The position is viewed as one of the few chances the party has to gain a seat and keep the Democratic majority.

John Fetterman

Bio: Former mayor of Braddock. Grew up in York. Earned masters in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Current lieutenant governor serving under Gov. Tom Wolf. Advocate for medical and recreational marijuana, LGBTQ rights, and criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania.

Fracking: Said during April debate, fracking is “important industry in Pennsylvania because it allows us to be energy independent” and adds jobs. Says there needs to be “an honest transition to a green, clean, new economy,” adding it will take decades. Told WESA in 2021 he doesn’t support a ban on fracking, but originally opposed it near residential areas in 2016. Has been criticized by environmental groups and community leaders for flipping on issue.

Marijuana: On website, boasts he was first candidate to call for legalization of marijuana in the state. Believes legalization has major economic and health care benefits. Says criminalizing marijuana has been used to more harshly punish and jail Black offenders at disproportionate rates compared to white offenders. As current state Board of Pardons chair, has worked with Wolf to release “dozens of prisoners with convictions for nonviolent cannabis offenses,” according to Forbes.


Gun Violence: In April, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Fetterman said “the issue of gun safety singlehandedly drew him to public service,” adding that Democrats want to pass “commonsense” gun control legislation and that majority of Americans continue to support a number of gun control measures. Has been criticized for 2013 incident where he allegedly pulled a gun on an unarmed Black jogger.

Infrastructure: Used Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge collapse as example of how Pennsylvania’s “infrastructure is failing our people,” adding, “Our roads and bridges, which are supposed to connect us and bring us together, are increasingly putting us in danger.” Says President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill will give Pennsylvania $1.6 billion to repair neglected state-wide infrastructure.

Endorsements: United Steelworkers District 10, UFCW Local 1776, Pennsylvania Postal Workers Union, AFSCME District Council 47, NORML PAC, United Rural Democrats, Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association, various Allegheny County mayors, county commissioners, and council members, etc.

Malcolm Kenyatta

Bio: First openly LGBTQ person of color and one of the youngest members elected to the Pa. General Assembly. Earned degrees from Temple and Drexel universities. Has served as State Rep. for 181st district since 2019. Current vice-chair of the Philadelphia House Delegation and member of the Gov. Tom Wolf’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention.


Fracking: Called fracking “an actual problem.” Campaign website calls for “moratorium on new fracking,” to “end tax breaks to oil and gas giants,” and to shift resources to “fund a just transition and investments in green energy technology so Pennsylvania remains an energy leader.”

Marijuana: In 2021, introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow school nurses to administer medical cannabis oil prescribed to students, which is currently prohibited under state law. Voted for legalization in 2019. In 2021 Facebook video, said Pennsylvania should legalize adult-use cannabis, pointing out how criminalizing marijuna leads to the overincarceration of Black people. Called it a boost for the state’s economy and a “lifeline” for farmers.

Gun Violence: Co-sponsored bill that would require firearm owners to report weapons lost or stolen to law enforcement within 72 hours of making the discovery. Emphasizes need to improve quality of life for communities, including access to “good jobs, good schools, quality health care and a dignified retirement,” as essential to prevent gun violence.

Infrastructure: On Twitter, called Biden’s infrastructure legislation “one of the most consequential bills in a generation” adding that it “will begin the rebuilding of America and our great commonwealth while creating good jobs!” Said it would be a “direct investment into the futures of working families across Pennsylvania,” pouring billions into state’s bridges, public transportation, electric vehicle charging stations, and clean water infrastructure.

Endorsements: SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, American Federation of Teachers, One Pennsylvania, Working Families Party, Democracy for America, various state representatives, senators, mayors, council members, and other public figures, etc.


Conor Lamb

Bio: Former federal prosecutor. Veteran. Won special election in 2018 to become congressman for Pennsylvania’s 17th district. Re-elected in 2020. Current Veterans’ Affairs Committee vice chair, also serves on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Science, Space and Technology Committee. Went to Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. Graduated from law school at University of Pennsylvania. Lives in Mount Lebanon.

Fracking: During April 3 debate, defended fracking as opportunity to create jobs and lower bills, according to Pennsylvania Capital-Star, adding, “We owe it to you to give you the maximum benefit from natural gas while lowering the cost as much as possible, taking care of the groundwater issue, making sure we bring more transparency and oversight.” Introduced bill establishing Department of Energy program providing abandoned well research and development.

Marijuana: In April, voted to support Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which decriminalizes marijuana on federal level and expunges some marijuana-related convictions. Added amendment that directs “federal agencies to closely study the impact of legalization on both workplace safety and on children.”

Gun Violence: Has been criticized for being pro-gun and being vague on gun control issues. Once told New York Post he’s “pro-Second Amendment.” During debate, cited trafficking of illegal guns as major issue, believes Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should receive more support to combat the problem.

Infrastructure: Applauded millions in government funding being used for projects throughout Pennsylvania. Touted $77 million from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to construct new lock chambers at Emsworth Locks and Dams. Lamb said The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law “is another huge win for our region, for creating jobs, and for ensuring that our economy continues to grow.”

Endorsements: The Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee’s Latino Caucus, The Steel City Stonewall Democrats, National Organization for Women PAC, various union groups, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and various state senators and representatives, etc.

Alexandria Khalil

Bio: Daughter of Palestinian-Muslim immigrants. Raised in New Jersey and New York. Attended Temple and Drexel universities. Councilor on Jenkintown Borough Council, second vice president of Montgomery County Borough’s Association, and member of Jenkintown Education Foundation and Jenkintown Advisory Committee. Member of the PA DOH Health Equity and COVID19: Rural Healthcare Task Force. Small business owner and advocate.

Fracking: Vote411 says Khalil supports requiring methane capping for gas and oil wells.

Marijuana: Website says Khalil supports legalization of marijuana and requiring “gross profits be used for economic development in communities most impacted by ‘war on drugs,’ mental health and addiction counseling, pain management research and non-drug related treatment such as physical therapy and acupuncture.”

Gun Violence: Website says Khalil “supports the 2nd Amendment and Common Sense gun laws.”

Infrastructure: Wants to see the “modernizing of Pennsylvania and American infrastructure including sewers, bus and rail system, roads, and power grids,” according to website. On Twitter, praised President Joe Biden for requiring U.S.-made steel and iron be used in projects funded by the $1 trillion infrastructure package.

Endorsements: None found

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