Representative Conor Lamb to enter Democratic Senate Primary in Pennsylvania
Representative Conor Lamb, D-Pa., Will officially launch a campaign for the Senate on Friday, becoming the final candidate for a Democratic primary that will shape the future of the party.
The race for the open seat – Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican, not seeking re-election in 2022 – has national implications. Vice President Kamala Harris holds the deciding vote in the Senate, and Democrats see Pennsylvania as key to helping them retain or expand their majority.
“I believe it is the most important Senate seat in the country”, Lamb said in a video featuring his announcement. “We need to lean on our majority and tell the truth about what is really going on in people’s lives. We need to raise workers’ wages, protect your retirement, and make sure you have health care when you need it. All of these issues are at stake next year. And our adversaries will lie about them, just as they will lie about the elections. “
His entry into the Senate race will make his House seat a primary target for Republicans, who are trying to overthrow control of the lower house where there is also a slim margin.
Even before Lamb’s entry, the Senate primary was a tangled rivalry of ideologies and constituencies.
Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, the first leader of fundraising, has close ties to the progressive movement. The same goes for Malcolm Kenyatta, a Philadelphia state lawmaker who is said to be the state’s first black and openly gay senator. Val Arkoosh, who chairs the Montgomery County Commission, is appealing to those who want to elect the state’s first female senator and see her pragmatic reputation and political base in suburban Philadelphia as assets.
Lamb, like Fetterman, hails from the Democratic stronghold on the western end of the state. At 37, he’s closer to Kenyatta, 31, than Fetterman, 51, or Arkoosh, 54. He and Kenyatta were also among President Joe Biden’s most visible substitutes in 2020. But Lamb’s policies put him at the center, firmly aligning him with Biden and the establishment Democrats.
“It represents what I would say is Pennsylvania’s sense of values,” said Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Director, who endorses Lamb’s candidacy for the Senate. “Neither too much to the left, nor too much to the right. Moderate.”
Such tensions are particularly acute among Democratic factions after this week’s special election in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, where Shontel Brown became the last candidate friend of Biden to defeat the Progressive Left in a primary this year.
“Who’s next?” Coleman Lamb, his brother and close advisor tweeted after Brown’s victory.
A former federal prosecutor and Marine Corps veteran from a well-established political family, Conor Lamb burst onto the national stage in 2018, when he toppled a Republican district in a special election. Through that run, Lamb formed a deep bond with Biden, who, while campaigning with the future congressman, said he reminded him of his late son, Beau. Two years later, Lamb was one of the centrist House members who enlisted early to help Biden’s presidential campaign.
Lamb has won two full terms since the special election, including a close race with Republican Sean Parnell in 2020. Parnell is among an increasingly crowded group of GOP candidates running for the Toomey seat next year .
“Donald Trump knows how important Pennsylvania is,” Lamb said of the former president in his video. “He came here to campaign against me for three elections in a row. And each time, with your help, we have won.
The first months of the Senate campaign pitted Fetterman and Kenyatta as the progressive movement’s dueling candidates. Moderate Pennsylvania Democrats who have spoken to NBC News in recent months have expressed interest in Arkoosh while questioning whether a more centrist option such as Lamb or Rep. Chrissy Houlahan might emerge. Houlahan announced in June that she would seek re-election to the House instead.
Polls on the developing primary domain have been sparse, with Fetterman leading Lamb, 40% to 21%, in a poll commissioned by the Lieutenant Governor’s Senate campaign in May.
Fetterman also has a huge cash advantage. At the end of July, he had $ 3 million, followed by Arkoosh with $ 632,000 and Kenyatta with $ 282,000. State Senator Sharif Street, who raises funds for exploratory purposes but has not officially declared his candidacy, had around $ 190,000.
Lamb has declared $ 1.8 million in his campaign fund for the House. He can apply that money to his candidacy for the Senate.