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WESA Voter Guide

Pennsylvania – U.S. Senate: A guide to the 2022 primary election and candidates

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What's at stake: The winner of Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate race could determine control of the Senate, and therefore it’s one of the most closely watched elections this year. The seat is currently represented by Republican Pat Toomey, who in October 2020 announced his planned retirement. Democrats see the seat as an opportunity to defend their 50-seat majority (with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris) in what is shaping up to be a good year for the GOP. The winner could provide a critical vote on a number of issues on which Democrats have struggled to unite themselves, including the climate crisis and voting rights. Republicans, meanwhile, want to hold the seat in order to gain control of the Senate.

Further reading:
"On back-to-back nights, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate candidates show their differences" (Sam Dunklau, WESA)
"Lots of jabs, but few policy differences in first full GOP Pennsylvania Senate debate" (Katie Meyer, WHYY)
"Live TV debate exposes Democrats' differences in Senate race" (Marc Levy, Associated Press)
"Conservative groups go against Trump, Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race" (Marc Levy/AP)

Note: Campaign finance data updated 4/18/22.


Democrats

John Fetterman

John Fetterman
Keith Srakocic
/
AP
John Fetterman

Fetterman currently serves as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor; he was elected to the position in 2018. He lives outside Pittsburgh in Braddock, across from U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson plant, and he has said Democrats don’t have to choose between banning non-renewable energy sources such as fracking and acting to address the climate crisis. In 2010, Fetterman was elected as mayor of Braddock, winning by one vote. Bolstered by national media accounts of his efforts to reverse the area's decline, he served in that position until his successful run for lieutenant governor eight years later.

Party: Democrat
Experience: 
Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania (2019 – present)
Mayor of Braddock (2006 – 2019)
Education: 
Albright College (B.A.); University of Connecticut (MBA); Harvard University (MPP)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776, United Steelworkers District 10, Pennsylvania Postal Workers Union, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, United Rural Democrats. Others here.
Fundraising total: $16.0 million
Cash on hand: $1.9 million
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "The Democrats' giant dilemma" (Holly Otterbein, Politico)
"Braddock made John Fetterman a politician. It's also home to some of his biggest critics" (Katie Meyer, WHYY)


Malcolm Kenyatta

malcolm kenyatta Election 2022 Pennsylvania Senate
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Malcolm Kenyatta

Kenyatta represents portions of North Philadelphia in the 181st state House district. He was elected in 2018 as the first LGBTQ person of color in the General Assembly. In Harrisburg, he’s advocated for affordable housing, racial justice, addressing poverty, and gun violence prevention. In his Senate campaign, Kenyatta often recalls his experience growing up in a working-class home and how his parents struggled to pay for health care and medications. He says those experiences inform the issues he’d prioritize in Washington.

Party: Democrat
Experience: Pennsylvania House of Representatives – 181st District (2019 – present)
Education: Temple University (B.A.); Drexel University (M.S.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Medium
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: American Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Working Families Party, Gloria Steinem, Wanda Sykes, Philly Neighborhood Networks. Others, including dozens of federal, state and local elected officials, listed here.
Fundraising Total: $1.9 million
Cash on hand: $173,563
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "Philadelphia lawmaker Malcolm Kenyatta to run for U.S. Senate" (Lucy Perkins, WESA)


Alex Khalil

Alex Khalil Headshot.jpeg
Courtesy the Khalil campaign
Alexandra Khalil

Khalil serves on the Jenkintown Borough Council in Montgomery County. She is an IT specialist and former small business owner. Her parents are Palestinian immigrants, and she was raised in New York and New Jersey. Khalil was a 2016 delegate for Bernie Sanders and has been a vocal organizer for and supporter of the Affordable Care Act.

Party: Democrat
Experience: Jenkintown Borough Council (2019 – present)
Education: Temple University (B.S.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: None currently available
Fundraising Total: $17,151
Cash on hand: $1,719
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission


Conor Lamb

conor_lamb.jpg
Keith Srakocic
/
AP
Conor Lamb

Lamb represents Allegheny County suburbs and Beaver County in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was first elected in a special election in 2018. Lamb's win launched him into the national spotlight as one of the first Democrats to flip a district that President Donald Trump carried in 2016. In Congress, Lamb has been a staunch union supporter. He also has advocated for lowering prescription drug prices and protecting Medicare and Social Security. Before running for office, Lamb served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Pittsburgh.

Party: Democrat
Experience: 
U.S. House of Representatives – 17th District (2019 – present)
U.S. House of Representatives – 18th District (2018 – 2019)
Education: University of Pennsylvania (B.A., J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club (Pittsburgh), Philadelphia Democratic Party, Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee’s Latino Caucus, Steel City Stonewall Democrats, National Organization for Women PAC. Others here.
Fundraising total: $6.1 million
Cash on hand: $2.2 million
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: " 'All of it is on the line': Conor Lamb joins race for Pennsylvania Senate seat" (Chris Potter, WESA)


Republicans

Kathy Barnette

Kathy Barnette Election 2022 Pennsylvania Senate
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Kathy Barnette

Barnette is a pro-Trump conservative commentator on far-right channels such as Newsmax and One America News. She lives in Montgomery County. She lost her 2020 U.S. House race to incumbent Madeline Dean by nearly 20 percentage points. She often pushes conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and falsehoods about election fraud. Barnette has touted her identity as a Black Republican in the race.

Party: Republican
Experience:
Author and political commentator (2016 – present)
Education: 
Troy State University (B.S.); Fontbonne University (MBA)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, BlakPAC, Pennsylvania State Police FOP Pioneer Lodge #37, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, former U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn.
Fundraising Total: $1.8 million
Cash on hand: $217,076
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "The Hunt" (Andrew Seidman, Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Trump scrambles to fend off Kathy Barnette in Pennsylvania Senate primary race" (Marc Levy, AP)
"Kathy Barnette, surging in polls, tries to avoid mainstream attention and rebuff Pa. GOP attacks" (Katie Meyer, WHYY)


Jeff Bartos

jeff bartos election senate 2022
Matt Rourke
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AP
Jeff Bartos

Bartos is a businessman from Berks County and owns a contracting company as well as several real estate and development businesses. He was the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018 alongside gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner. Bartos and Wagner lost to Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman by 17 percentage points.

Party: Republican
Experience: President, ESB Holdings (2015 – present)
Education: Emory University (B.A.); University of Virginia (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, plus more than two dozen state and local elected officials listed here.
Fundraising Total: $3.4 million
Cash on hand: $2.4 million
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "Bartos touts his business experience, derides other candidates for weak ties to Pa. at tele town hall" (Lucy Perkins, WESA)


George Bochetto

George Bochetto takes part in a forum for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill, Pa., Saturday, April 2, 2022.
Matt Rourke
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AP
George Bochetto

Bochetto is an attorney in Philadelphia. He touts his legal victory in preventing a Christopher Columbus statue from being removed in Philly. Bochetto told The Associated Press that he also helped write the defense brief in former President Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Party: Republican
Experience: Pennsylvania State Boxing Commissioner (1995 – 2002)
Education: University at Albany SUNY (B.A.); Temple University (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Fraternal Order of Police Philadelphia Lodge #5, the Italian Sons & Daughters of America.
Fundraising Total: $840,993
Cash on hand: $33,478
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "The Philly lawyer who fought to protect the Columbus statue and keep Mumia behind bars is running for Senate" (Sean Collins Walsh, Philadelphia Inquirer)


Sean Gale

Sean Gale Election 2022 Pennsylvania Senate
Matt Rourke
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AP
Sean Gale

Gale is an attorney in Montgomery County who says he will fight against anti-Trump conservatives in Washington, D.C, and be “the exact opposite” of retiring Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey. His brother, Joe Gale, is running in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Party: Republican
Experience: Attorney
Education: Drexel University (L.L.M.); Villanova University (J.D.); Temple University (B.B.A.)
Links: Website | Facebook
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: None currently available
Fundraising Total: $50,109
Cash on hand: $5,949
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission


David McCormick 

Election 2022 Senate Pennsylvania David McCormick
Andre Penner
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AP
David McCormick

McCormick stepped down as the CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, in January to run for U.S. Senate. In the early 2000s, he ran FreeMarkets, a Pittsburgh-based software company. Later, he served in the Bush administration as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. His wife, Dina Powell, served as Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump administration. He is a U.S. Army veteran.

Party: Republican
Experience: 
President/CEO, Bridgewater Associates (2009 – 2022)
Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs (2007 – 2009)
Commerce Department's Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security (2005 – 2006)
Education: 
U.S. Military Academy (B.S.); Princeton University (M.A., Ph.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: National Border Patrol Council, Butler County Republican Committee, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (Pa.), former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. More here.
Fundraising Total: $15.9 million
Cash on hand: $1.9 million
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "The Bridgewater CEO who went full MAGA" (Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek)
"Ex-hedge fund CEO David McCormick aims to be hometown boy in key Pennsylvania Senate race" (Marc Levy, Associated Press)
"Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dave McCormick earned $22M as hedge fund CEO" (Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press)


Mehmet Oz

mehmet oz Election 2022 Pennsylvania Senate
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Mehmet Oz

Oz is best known for his long career as the host of his daytime TV program, The Dr. Oz Show. He has been criticized through the years for promoting pseudoscientific treatments that lacked fact-based evidence. He does support getting vaccinated against COVID-19, but he has also supported taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment that lacks scientific evidence. Oz also has Turkish citizenship, which he has said he would renounce if elected. In 2020, he registered to vote in Montgomery County at his in-laws' home; he recently bought a home of his own there.

Party: Republican
Experience:  Host, The Dr. Oz Show (2009 – 2022)
Education: Harvard University (B.S.); University of Pennsylvania (M.D., MBA.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | TikTok
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Former President Donald Trump; Former U.S. Secretary of Energy and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and former U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke (Mont.); Ted Nugent
Fundraising Total: $15.1 million
Cash on hand: $911,578
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "Mehmet Oz wants us to know why he's here in Pennsylvania. Will enough voters buy it"? (Katie Meyer, WHYY)
"Medical experts say Oz's medical expertise can be double-edged, especially amid pandemic" (Lucy Perkins, WESA)
"Trump's endorsement of Oz reframes the Pennsylvania GOP Senate contest" (Don Gonyea, NPR)


Carla Sands

Election 2022 Pennsylvania Senate
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Carla Sands takes part in a forum for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill, Pa., Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Sands served in the Trump administration as an economic advisor and as ambassador to Denmark. She grew up in Cumberland County and worked as a chiropractor after she graduated from college. After her husband died in 2015, she took over as the CEO and chair of his investment firm Vintage Capital Group in California.

Party: Republican
Experience: 
U.S. Ambassador to Denmark (2017 –2021)
Chair and CEO, Vintage Capital Group and Vintage Real Estate (2015 – present)
Education: 
Life University (D.C.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: State Reps. Greg Rothman and David Maloney; CURE Action America; former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich. More here.
Fundraising Total: $4.7 million
Cash on hand: $247,824
More on campaign finance: Federal Election Commission
Worth reading: "Ex-ambassador, investment CEO seeks Pennsylvania Senate seat" (Marc Levy, Associated Press)