Lamb, Kenyatta Hold Senate Debate in Allentown

It was the late singer Meat Loaf who sang, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

That was the best Muhlenberg College could muster on Sunday as two of the three leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate gathered for a debate in Allentown.

U.S. congressman Conor Lamb and state representative Malcolm Kenyatta were on the stage, while a podium set for lieutenant governor John Fetterman remained empty.

“He didn’t respect you enough to show up today,” Lamb told the gathering of 175 people. “But we need to have an honest, family discussion among Democrats about what we’re doing here.”

Showing up is part of the job, said Kenyatta.

“He’s not here,” Kenyatta said, motioning toward the empty podium. “And if John can’t show up to talk to other Democrats about the importance of this race, about what he would do as our next United States senator, who the hell really believes that John is going to be able to show up and stand up and fight for our values in Washington?”

The subject of Fetterman’s absence dominated the debate at times in an attempt to turn the tables, as the former mayor of Braddock has a commanding 23-point lead in a recent Emerson College poll.

Both Lamb and Kenyatta took turns discussing a 2013 incident in which Fetterman confronted an unarmed Black man, who he had wrongly suspected of a shooting, with a shotgun.

In his opening remarks, Lamb went right after the lieutenant governor. “It was wrong when he did that and he skipped the debate today because he doesn’t think he has to answer. Given everything that’s gone on in this country, that is fatal to his campaign. You deserve a senator that you can trust to show up and not to act like a loose cannon.”

Kenyatta, who is Black, said Fetterman has had nine years to “not only apologize for that but to understand why that was so dangerous.” He continued that it shows there are people who think “they can take the law into their own hands.”

The pair were in agreement on a number of questions, including solutions for student debt, the debt ceiling rule in DC and statehood for Puerto Rico.

At the small Lehigh Valley college, moderator Chris Borick asked their opinion about mounting student debt that averages $35,000.

Kenyatta said debt should be canceled and at least two years of community college should be available for free. Lamb pointed out the moves by Congress to freeze federal student loan payments during the pandemic. The cost of student debt, Lamb said, is something “we can actually lower.” 

But when it came to fracking and natural gas, Lamb and Kenyatta diverged.

Lamb said that he has bucked party elders to support the natural gas industry, noting “people want you to think for yourself.” He said the advantages that natural gas brings in burning cleaner than coal could be beneficial. “If we do it right, it helps us with our climate goals,” he said.

Kenyatta said that fracking has been linked to numerous environmental and health problems. “We are transitioning to a cleaner, greener future because we have to,” he said, adding that he is “going to fight for a just transition.”

Some levity was injected into the 90-minute affair when a brief power failure affected the facility. A voice rose from the darkened room in a Jerry Seinfeld-esque voice – “Fetterman.”

13 Responses

  1. It’s obvious Fetterman is playing “let’s run the clock out” on Lamb who is a superior candidate. Why would Inside Elections have Pa Senate race “leaning R” if they thought Fetterman was great? Fetterman struggled against Bartos in the one Lt Gov Debate and that says against a media savvy Dr OZ Fetterman is going to look like a development league player.

    1. Noone cares what you have to say dishonest Abe. Get with the program and support Gale guy or Mastrianco

      1. fake poster…..Get with the program PoliticsPA and get this fraudulent asshole off the site.

        1. fake responder….Get with the program PoliticsPA and get this fraudulent asshole off the site.

    1. fake poster….this assclown can only steal names and themes from others. He has no intelligence to come up with his own name or material. Pathetic.

      1. fake response from fraud imposter….this assclown can only steal names and themes from others. He has no intelligence to come up with his own name or material. Pathetic.

    1. You are WRONG!! I am sure Mr. Fetterman was doing a photo shoot for GQ Magazine.

      1. fake poster……..You can support whomever you want when you stop impersonating me.

        1. fake response from fake poster……..You can support whomever you want when you stop impersonating me.

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