As the 2022 Election approaches, the Pennsylvania Senate race is becoming an important battleground for the control of the US Senate, according to Cook Political Report. With GOP Sen. Pat Toomey retiring, there will be an opportunity for the Democrats to extend their senate majority, or for the Republicans to retain control over a seat that has been historically theirs and regain a majority in a state that they lost in 2020.
The Cook Political Report currently lists the Pennsylvania race as one of three toss-ups in the 2022 cycle and believes it is difficult to predict because of the crowded Democratic and Republican primaries.
The analysis from the Cook Political Report’s Jessica Taylor notes that “several Democratic strategists” have labeled Lt. Governor John Fetterman as the “nominal frontrunner right now.” Taylor cites Fetterman’s current fundraising totals in the story as the current Lt. Governor raised $3.9 Million in the first three months of 2021, raised $2.5 million in the most recent fundraising quarter, and ended the month of June with $3 Million in “in the bank.”
Taylor writes that Fetterman has a “loyal base” and a “populist appeal” and how he previously identified as a Democratic Socialist, while noting his support for Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, and marijuana legalization. She also points out that Fetterman “hasn’t shied away from criticizing more moderate” Democrats and that some strategists believe that those criticisms and GOP attempts to align him with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the left-wing of the Democratic Party will make Fetterman a “risky nomination” in a state where more moderate democrats have been successful in the past.
Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny) could be more appealing to the general electorate and is currently Fetterman’s biggest challenger, Taylor writes. She points to Lamb’s previous victories in Congress in more moderate and Trump-friendly districts.
Taylor dubs Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh as the “wild card” in the race, citing her being the “only major Democratic woman in the field,” being backed by EMILY’s List, and her experience representing the state’s third largest county.
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) and state Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) also get a mention from Taylor as candidates that “could have an impact.”
In the GOP primary, there is also an ideological battle taking center stage between who is the strongest Trump loyalist in the race.
Taylor writes that Sean Parnell, the Army Veteran who lost to Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny) by 2 points in 2020, is the “current favorite” for receiving Trump’s endorsement. Parnell has been endorsed by Donald Trump Jr.
She notes that Parnell has been a recurring face in conservative news media, including Newsmax and Fox News, has called for an audit of Pennsylvania’s votes, plus backed a lawsuit attempting to overturn the results from the 2020 election.
Taylor writes that the other frontrunner in the GOP race is wealthy real estate developer Jeff Bartos, who is a favorite of establishment Republicans. She notes Bartos having the highest second quarter of fundraising, raising $1 million, including a $440,000 loan.
Bartos is described by some GOP strategists to be the candidate who can “fit the Toomey-type mold the best” and can appeal to a wider variety of Pennsylvania voters. Backing a more moderate GOP candidate could be the key to winning the state, but it could also run the risk of upsetting Trump and his base, according to Taylor.
Carla Sands, the former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark during Trump’s administration, “may be little-known” in comparison to the other GOP frontrunners, but Taylor notes that she could put “millions of her own money into the race,” and has a “profile” that “could play well with suburban women.”
Kathy Barnette, a former congressional candidate, is also mentioned in the story as a candidate who is “vying for a claim to the Trump legacy” and her second quarter haul of nearly $600,000 “caused a lot of Republican insiders to take notice.”
Craig Snyder, a former chief of staff to Sen. Arlen Specter, is also mentioned in the story as a candidate who is running on an “anti-Trump platform,” while former Congressman Ryan Costello (R-Chester), who has been weighing a run for months, would “have a hard time manuevering through a Trump-centric contest.”
The full analysis from the Cook Political Report can be found here.