Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is not seeking reelection and a wide field of candidates want to fill that seat. Already, candidates are spending campaign money on billboards, radio, and television advertising and that is going to intensify. Most will spend well over $174,000, the annual salary of a U.S. senator.
These months, now until the May 17 Pennsylvania primary, are a short window for candidates to introduce themselves to the public, lay out their platforms, and convince their party to put them on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election.
At least 18 candidates are running for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat. At one point there were at least 30, but some have dropped out, and others have little or no internet presence or budget. Here is a look at the 18, organized by party affiliation and then by the amount of campaign money raised, according to the Federal Election Commission:
- Carla Sands ($3.6 million): Chiropractor, appointed to President Donald Trump’s Economic Advisory Council and later served as an ambassador to Denmark in the Trump administration.
- Jeff Bartos ($2.9 million): Ran for lieutenant governor in 2018. Bartos owns a contracting company and several real estate acquisition and development companies.
- Kathy Barnette ($809,000): Author of “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: Being Black and Conservative in America.” She is a veteran, former adjunct professor of corporate finance, and a political commentator.
- Everett Stern ($99,000): Founder and intelligence director of Tactical Rabbit, a private intelligence agency that provides clients with legal, business, and national security intelligence. Previously ran for Senate.
- Robert “Bobby” Jeffries ($41,000): A self-described “proud millennial.” Works in warehousing and logistics.
- Sean Gale: ($22,000): An attorney. His brother Joe Gale is running for governor.
- Martin Rosenfeld ($9,000): Worked as a county deputy sheriff, state constable, co-owner of a gun shop; handled accounting and tax preparation for 40 years.
- James Edward Hayes ($6,000): Semi-retired from a career in engineering and construction.
- David Xu ($1,300): A self-described “redneck,” Xu served in the Army for 30 years and is a small business owner.
- Mehmet Oz (no data reported): Dr. Oz is a celebrity doctor and was a frequent guest on the Oprah Winfrey show.
- John Fetterman ($9.3 million): Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor.
- Conor Lamb ($2.6 million): U.S. Representative in his second term.
- Val Arkoosh ($2.1 million): A doctor and elected county commissioner.
- Malcolm Kenyatta ($1.2 million): A state representative from
- Kevin Baumlin ($580,000) A doctor and chair of emergency medicine at a Pennsylvania hospital.
- Sharif Street ($367,000): A Pennsylvania state representative from Philadelphia.
- Alexandria Khalil ($9,426): A former small business owner, educator, community organizer; and member of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Health Equity and COVID-19 Rural Healthcare Taskforce.
- Larry Johnson (no data): Teacher, attorney, and author of several books, including “Expositions on the Divine Nature,” “Progressive-conservatism and a new America,” and “Bronx Boy.”
In Pennsylvania, independents don’t vote in the primary election; only those registered as Democrat or Republican may vote. Sometimes voters will switch parties just to vote for or against a candidate in the other party. At the polls, Republicans get a ballot with Republican-only candidates; Democrats get only Democrat candidates. The parties pick the candidate at the top of the ticket and these top vote-getters in each party advance to the general election ballot where everyone, including independents, can vote for any candidate.
Last year was considered an “off year” election with judicial races being the main statewide Pennsylvania races, plus many local races including school board, mayoral, and township supervisor seats.
This year will include an open-seat battle for governor as sitting Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s second and final term is up at the end of 2022.
State legislators are trying to put the finishing touches on new congressional and legislative district maps, but there are some disagreements about district boundaries that still need to be ironed out.
While it is not a requirement to live in a congressional district to represent it, it is preferable. Candidates considering a run for Congress and legislative candidates are anxious for the maps to be approved.
Because the U.S. Census showed Pennsylvania’s population is growing more slowly (up 2.4 percent) compared to other states, it lost one congressional district and will now have just 17 districts and 17 U.S. representatives in Washington.
Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid has indicated that the May 17 primary election may have to be moved back if the maps are not done soon. House congressional candidates need time to collect enough signatures to get on the primary ballot, and those signatures must be from voters within the district map boundaries, which currently are not known.