Pa. Democrats support Lamb over Fetterman; debate set for Muhlenberg College

Written by on March 7, 2022

Pa. Democrats support Lamb over Fetterman; debate set for Muhlenberg College

By The Associated Press
March 7, 2022

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party committee members backed U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb by 2 to 1 in an endorsement vote over Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the primary race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

The committee met over the weekend and fell just short of the two-thirds majority it requires for an official endorsement.

Meanwhile, Muhlenberg College announced Monday that it will be host the first U.S. Senate Democratic primary debate on Sunday, April 3.

The 75-minute debate will start at 3 p.m. and be held in front of a live audience of 175 invited guests at the school in Allentown. Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) will participate, the college said. Fetterman’s attendance remains “under discussion,” according to a news release.

The debate will be broadcast but details weren’t announced Monday. It will be hosted by City & State PAPennsylvania Kitchen Table Politics, the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion and the Muhlenberg College Democrats.

The primary election will be held Tuesday, May 17, and includes a wide open field of more than a dozen candidates on the Republican ticket that includes Dr. Mehmet Oz of daytime TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show” and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick.

Fetterman comes from the Democrats’ progressive wing and leads the Democrats in campaign cash; he’s the only candidate to have run statewide before.

But Democrats say the Jan. 6 insurrection stiffened their resolve to vote for the candidate who is most electable.

For many, that means voting for Lamb, viewed as a more moderate, more conventional candidate with a resume that has more crossover appeal.

“Those of us in politics who are in the know, we want to win the Senate race, so we want to pick the most electable person statewide, and I think a lot of people agree that that person is Conor Lamb,” said Christina Proctor, the Democratic Party chair in Washington County.

The seat being vacated by retiring two-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is viewed nationally as up for grabs and among the few chances Democrats will have to pick up a seat in a daunting year when President Joe Biden and Democrats face a critical and pessismistic public, according to the February poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Lamb, 37, a clean-cut former federal prosecutor and ex-Marine, worked hard for months to win the party’s endorsement, coming up just short of the required two-thirds vote threshold after months of courting state committee members.

Fetterman’s campaign dismissed the process as an “inside game” and maintained that his focus is on campaigning and expanding the map of friendly voters by finding new supporters in far-flung places where Democrats get trounced.

UPDATE: This post was corrected to note that Fetterman’s attendance at the Muhlenberg debate remains “under discussion” and has yet to be confirmed.

WLVR Staff contributed to this report.

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