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An initiative to provide nonpartisan, independent elections journalism for southwestern Pennsylvania.

Malcolm Kenyatta wins Democratic nod for auditor general, will face Tim DeFoor this fall

Malcolm Kenyatta is running for the Democratic nomination in the 2024 election for Pennsylvania auditor general.
Courtesy campaign
Kenyatta will face Republican incumbent Tim DeFoor in this November's general election.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta bested fellow Democrat Mark Pinsley on Tuesday to secure his party's nomination for Pennsylvania auditor general.

The two Democrats vying for the nomination — both from the eastern part of the state but bringing very different perspectives to the race — competed to challenge Republican incumbent Tim DeFoor for the job of being the state’s fiscal watchdog.

Philadelphia’s Malcolm Kenyatta was first elected to the state House in 2018 and is probably best known to voters in Western Pennsylvania as one of John Fetterman’s rivals in the 2022 Senate race. Kenyatta was the first openly gay Black member of the House when he was elected, and he has been a progressive firebrand since, often mocking Republicans on the House floor.

Kenyatta’s background has been in political advocacy more than number-crunching. But he’s said that growing up poor in Philadelphia has given him a perspective and zeal to ensure government functions as it should.

“I’ve seen what happens when government doesn’t work,” he told a gathering of East End Democrats last month. Pleading to be not just a watchdog but a “public advocate,” he said he’d create a bureau to monitor labor standards.

Mark Pinsley already serves as the Lehigh County Controller, a post that is the down-ballot equivalent of auditor general. Pinsley built his campaign around that experience, which includes holding an MBA and a background in the private sector.

“I am the only one in the race that is currently doing the job of auditor general,” he told the East End audience during his own turn at the microphone.

Pinsley stressed that he hadn’t just been counting beans: He has boasted of moving county deposits from a bank whose executives donated to candidates who oppose abortion rights, and of having helped to elevate Democrats to leadership posts in once-red Lehigh.

DeFoor ran unopposed on the Republican ballot.

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.