However, Conor Lamb (D.Pa.) won the majority of endorsement votes.
The Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee did not endorse any candidate for the U.S. Senate failed to endorse a candidate for the U.S. at its annual winter meeting. No candidate had received the required two-thirds majority to be granted official state party blessing.
Conor Lamb, D-Pa., who organized the most energetic vote whipping operation won 60% and stated that he was happy with the outcome, even though he did not win the endorsement.
Lamb stated that sixty percent was a strong lead after the vote. “We worked hard and showed respect for all members of the committee.”
Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman (D), a polling leader and fundraiser, won the second most votes. He was followed by Malcolm Kenyatta (D), a state representative from Philadelphia, and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh (chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners).
Arkoosh didn’t receive the 15% votes she needed to make her vote count. This forced her supporters to abstain from the second round or to cast votes elsewhere.
Kenyatta said to reporters that he had proven his doubters wrong with clearing the 15% viability threshold. He said, “This is a major coup for our campaign.”
Arkoosh, a spokesperson from Fetterman both downplayed its significance.
Although the support shown by party insiders for Lamb is not a reliable indicator of how the contentious Senate primaries will play out in May but it does show how many Democrats are becoming more cautious as it becomes apparent that the party faces a difficult battle in the November midterm elections.
Instead of discussing policy differences, as they might have done in previous races, the four major Democratic candidates and their supporters at Saturday’s meeting were firmly focused on the slippery issue of “electability”.
Lamb’s supporters pointed out that he had proven his ability in working-class white areas of Pennsylvania that went heavily to former President Donald Trump. In a March 2018 Special Election, he was elected first to Congress to fill an unfilled seat in a district Trump won by 19 percentage point in 2016.
In a district that was redrawn to make it less Republican, Lamb won with a larger margin in Nov 2018, but won by only two percentage point in 2020.
Lamb spoke to the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee members in a hotel ballroom as well as remotely via video. He highlighted all three victories to show that he has what is required to defeat Republicans in November.
He said that “You have a chance to today to put fear in the heart of Dr. Oz and Dave McCormick and that whole cast, of characters because they don’t want to run for Conor Lamb,” referring to the top two Republican Senate nominees.
Pennsylvania Democrats are currently arguing about how to win the U.S. Senate Seat that will soon be vacant by retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. This is part of larger discussions within the party about how to create a winning coalition in a time when party voters are more concentrated in major metropolitan areas.
Lamb’s supporters backed President Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. Lamb was cast as a consensus candidate by his supporters. A veteran of the U.S. Marines with strong ties with organized labor, Lamb is a mainstream Democrat who does not identify with either the party’s left wing or the few conservative outliers that are holding onto Biden’s agenda.
Mike Veon, a former state rep who supports Lamb, said that Lamb’s record in Congress “represents the sweet spot within the Democratic Party.” “It is appealing and interesting for the blue-collar worker of western Pennsylvania and [offers] enough for suburban women living in the suburbs to Philadelphia.
The supporters of Kenyatta or Fetterman have their arguments as to why they believe their candidates are the best to defeat Republicans in November.
Kenyatta is Black and openly homosexual. He has won endorsements from other elected officials and labor unions including SEIU Pennsylvania state council. He is a former mainstream Democrat who supported Biden in the 2020 primary. However, he is now running as a progressive advocate for Medicare for All with support from left-leaning groups such as the Working Families Party.
On Saturday, Kenyatta addressed a room of Democratic officials and rejected the idea that Toomey’s Senate seat could be flipped by the party without him as their nominee.
He said, “Some people think that we must make a false choice between winning or winning for our values.” These two things can’t be separated.
After Saturday’s vote, Kenyatta discussed his theory of victory with reporters. He claimed that Democrats would be able to increase turnout in midterm elections if they have the ability to communicate with Black voters and his progressive views. This is a time when the party has a lot of voters who stay at home.
He stated, “It’s always how win, when you expand the electorate.”
Kenyatta was asked about the criticisms he received from the left regarding his support for Biden in 2020’s primary. He replied that “my very existence is progressive, therefore I don’t know what the hell people’re talking about.”
There are some similarities between Fetterman’s strategy, and Kenyatta’s.
Fetterman is a former mayor of small cities, known for his tall stature and casual fashion sense. He is now competing against Kenyatta to win progressive voters. And like Kenyatta, he is selling Pennsylvania Democrats on the idea that the party can’t simply nominate the safest seeming candidate in the hopes of assembling a presidential-election cycle coalition of hyper-partisan Democrats and frequent voters.
Fetterman said Saturday that 2022 would be a difficult year for Democrats in Pennsylvania to win. “We won’t have the Trump tailwind to help us over the edge. To win in 2022, we’ll need a new kind of map.
Fetterman suggested that Pennsylvania Governor. The 2018 campaign of Tom Wolf’s running mate was at least partially responsible for the Democrats’ better performance in midterm elections than in 2014.
Fetterman is a social media-savvy politician, who has earned a national reputation for his efforts in spurring economic development and fighting gun violence in Braddock, which is just outside of Pittsburgh. He is also a bit of an outsider. In 2016, Fetterman ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Senate nomination. He also endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). After mounting a successful primary contest against the then-Lt. Governor, he won in 2018. Mike Stack (D).
His supporters view his gritty persona (he wore shorts to visit the site of a collapsed bridge in Pittsburgh on Friday) and sometimes less-than-rosy relationships, especially in rural areas where Democrats have been losing ground over the years, as assets.
Fetterman, who is lieutenant governor in the state of Texas, has visited rural counties extensively and boasts that he will run a campaign across all 67 of his states.
Diane Syphrit of the Mercer County Democratic Committee, who is backing Fetterman was enthusiastic about the 120-person turnout Fetterman received at a recent weekday event in her area.
Syphrit stated, “I don’t want a typical politician.” “I want a real person.”
James Heckman, a McKean County Democrartic Committee member and a worker in manufacturing, stated that the possibility of Dr. Mehmet O winning the Republican nomination made the case to pick Fetterman stronger.
Heckman stated that “Fetterman was the only one with the star power to take him on.”
Fetterman may struggle to win support from the majority of Black voters if he hopes to outperform in predominantly white rural areas.
The incident that took place in 2013 while Fetterman was mayor of Braddock (a predominantly Black area), is the root cause of his troubles. Fetterman pursued a Black jogger with his pickup truck, and he detained him with a gun until police arrived. Fetterman heard gunshots outside of his home. He believed Christopher Miyares, a jogger with a face cover, was responsible. After finding no weapon, the police released Miyares.
Fetterman stands behind his actions. Fetterman stands by his actions after he announced his candidacy in February. Fetterman released a video explaining that the incident was the result of “series of split second decisions” that he made in order to protect his four-year-old son.
However, some prominent Black Democrats still harbor suspicions of Fetterman. This was evident when several Black clergy expressed concern at Fetterman’s failure to attend a Martin Luther King Day event in Philadelphia.
Fetterman’s group stated that they had told the organizers that it was impossible for him to attend because he needs to be there on the first day. Some Black Democrats claim that Fetterman could have arrived later in day or consider his explanation inadequate.
“It didn’t seem like he was making that effort and given the times we live in, and with you know the police brutality being in headlines so often… it makes us question his ability to lead an diverse state and represent our interests,” Turea Hutson said. She was a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee and was prior to the vote deciding between Lamb or Kenyatta.
In a larger sense, Fetterman as well as Kenyatta will likely face skepticism by some Democrats who fear a bloodbath like 2010.
Some progressives demanded that Sanders, or another left-leaning candidate, had won the 2016 presidential election for Hillary Clinton.
However, by the time Biden won in 2020, Democrats had flipped both the House and the White House and Senate thanks to moderate Democrats rather than the preferred candidates of the activist left.
New data cast doubt on the claims of left-leaning candidates that Democrats can form winning coalitions in general election by increasing turnout among non-white and young voters.
According to a Pew Research Centre analysis of valid voter data, Biden was only 2 percentage points ahead of Trump. According to Catalist’s analysis, Biden was the most successful candidate among white voters over Trump in 2016.
HuffPost spoke with some Pennsylvania Democrats who said that they were disappointed by the performance of left-wing candidates after promising to reform the electorate. Janet Diaz, a member of Lancaster County Democratic Committee, stated that she was convinced to support Lamb after watching Jess King (a staunch progressive) lose in 2018 elections.
Diaz stated that Lamb “can work across a table” with Republicans. “And that’s all we need.”