He may be the top Democrat in Washington, D.C., but he’s having a tough time drawing a crowd in Pittsburgh. Two of the state’s top Democratic candidates will be no-shows when President Joe Biden appears in western Pennsylvania on Friday.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the presumed Democratic nominee for governor, were invited by the Biden team to appear with the president. Both declined the invitation citing scheduling problems, the AP reports.
But after running into the president when he rushed to the scene of a Pittsburgh bridge that collapsed, Fetterman then appeared with Biden on the stage after all.
However, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, who is also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), will stand with Biden. Lamb is viewed as a more mainstream Democrat from the Biden wing of the party.
Skipping a presidential appearance, particularly in his native state, is quite a snub, political insiders say. And it is an indication the November midterms are being viewed by Democrats as a referendum on an unpopular incumbent.
Biden’s poll numbers have gone from bad to worse over recent weeks, with his approval plunging to 39 percent. That is more than 10 points lower than President Barack Obama’s in 2010, when Republicans picked up a whopping 63 seats — and a majority — in the House of Representatives.
“It’s no wonder why even the most extreme members of the Democrat Party are staying far, far away from Joe Biden – with approval numbers in the tank, Biden’s political toxicity is inescapable. Democrats can cite ‘scheduling conflicts’ all they want, but voters know the truth: Joe Biden is already destroying his party’s hopes for November,” said RNC spokesperson Allie Carroll.
While some Democrats appear to be dodging Biden, at least one Delaware Valley Senate candidate said he would definitely stand with the president. “Absolutely,” said state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia). “He is my friend,” said Kenyatta. “I would welcome him here any time in the 181st District.”
“Last week I was on a zoom with the President marking his 1 year anniversary in office alongside Governor Rendell, and a small group of early supporters of his campaign,” he said.
Kenyatta noted he was an early Biden supporter and went across the country to rural Iowa and other areas to campaign for him.
“I think the more the president talks about restoring the basic bargain with America the better,” said Kenyatta, saying that is what Biden’s Build Back Better plan is about. It is making sure people have a good education, good jobs, and a retirement where they can “live with dignity,” Kenyatta said.
Montgomery County Commission Chairwoman Val Arkoosh, a Democrat who is also running for the Senate, did not respond to a request for comment.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell had tough words for Democrats who are avoiding Biden.
“They’re stupid because things can turn around in politics pretty dramatically,” Rendell told The Associated Press. “You can’t hide. People end up thinking less of you for not showing up.”