inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

PA Dems Back Kenyatta for Auditor

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party wants state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta to be the state’s next auditor general.

The Philadelphia County lawmaker, first elected to the legislature in 2018 and reelected last year, overwhelmingly secured the party’s endorsement over the weekend at its winter meeting in Harrisburg. He’s the first openly gay Black candidate endorsed for auditor general.

“Malcolm is a friend, a colleague, and a transformational leader,” said state party chairman state Sen. Sharif Street in the endorsement announcement. “He brings a clear vision, undisputed work ethic, and the energy our party needs to win big next year.”

Kenyatta, who sits on the House Commerce, Finance, Judiciary, Liquor Control, and State Government Committees, has set big goals should he win the office.

“I’ll rebuild the Bureau of School Audits, which has been dismantled by the incumbent,” said Kenyatta, referencing Republican Auditor General Timothy DeFoor.

DeFoor transferred school audit responsibility back to the Department of Education last year, saying it was important for auditors to “focus on the work we are required by law to perform.” DeFoor added staffing issues meant it would take seven years to complete a single school audit, raising worries that results would be outdated.

The decision to end audits enraged Kenyatta, who said last March the decision made no sense because “we have nobody checking to make sure people driving our kids to school every day have the proper license. I will fix that problem.”

Kenyatta also vowed to help working families. “We’ll create a Bureau of Labor and Worker Protections and use every tool at my disposal to stand up for organized labor and working people. I know in my bones the impact of a government program that works or doesn’t. I’ll be the bold watchdog and public advocate that we need.”

He faces Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley and state Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) in the Democratic primary.

Pinsley was reelected last month to a second term. He has also criticized DeFoor’s school audit decision and accused him of trying to privatize education.

Rozzi, who served briefly as speaker of the House earlier this year, said he plans to run as a centrist. The Berks County Democrat’s campaign appears focused on Rozzi’s push for “good government reform.”

Pinsley and Rozzi’s resumes weren’t enough to convince the state party for an endorsement. Political observers weren’t surprised.

“I expected the Democrats to endorse Rep. Kenyatta,” Jeff Jubelirer of Bellevue Communications Group told DVJournal. “He proved himself to be a strong campaigner and team player once he withdrew from the 2022 U.S. Senate primary. During the campaign and as a state legislator, Kenyatta has made inroads across the commonwealth and is one of the party’s rising stars.”

Republican consultant Charlie Gerow, with Quantum Communications, said Kenyatta is “a Marxist for crying out loud,” said Gerow. “That’s where the Democratic Party is right now. It’s identity politics. He’s African American. He’s gay. He checks all the boxes. That’s what they’re looking for, not competency. That guy’s got no business running for auditor general.”

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party also endorsed President Joe Biden and incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey for reelection.

Whoever wins will almost certainly face DeFoor, the first African American to be elected to a statewide position in Pennsylvania. The Republican told DVJournal that he has “always known what he wanted to do… I’m an auditor.”

He portrayed the auditor general as a nonpartisan office that follows the fiscal code. “Anybody receiving state funds,” DeFoor said, noting that designation covers state departments, semi-government agencies, and taxpayer-funded outside organizations. “It is our responsibility that the funds they receive are being spent the way they’re supposed to be spent.”

The Attorney General’s Office also reviews state programs to ensure they are run efficiently, including last year’s audit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. That financial review discovered the turnpike racked up debt due to its $450 million annual payment to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Those payments were lowered to $50 million.

DeFoor is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Fetterman’s Foes Attack Him on For Shotgun Incident

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was acting like “f—ing Batman” when he brandished a shotgun at an unarmed Black jogger in 2013, one of his opponents, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said.

The incident happened when Fetterman was mayor of Braddock, a majority Black borough where he served for 13 years.

Fetterman said he saw the man running away after hearing what he believed were gunshots, a claim backed up by two witnesses who also reported hearing gunfire, according to a police report. He chased down the man and detained him until police arrived. Police said in their report they arrived and found Fetterman’s truck parked in the middle of the roadway.

He was holding a black shotgun in his hands and continued screaming at cops that he knew that the jogger “was shooting.” The man was searched for weapons but he was unarmed.

The shotgun-toting episode has received renewed attention from state and national media as Fetterman’s profile has risen in recent months since he announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat. Now firmly the Democratic frontrunner, with a sizeable campaign war chest, Fetterman has spent the last few weeks fending off attacks from Kenyatta and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb ahead of the May 17 primary.

PA state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia)

Kenyatta, who has fallen far behind Fetterman in recent polls, returned to the incident during both televised debates. At one point, given a chance to ask opponents a question, Kenyatta urged the hulking lieutenant governor to own his mistake and apologize to the jogger, Christopher Miyares.

In an interview with Delaware Valley Journal this week, Kenyatta ratcheted up his attacks on Fetterman, drawing comparisons between his actions and that of three men who were convicted of chasing down and fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery with a shotgun as he jogged through a neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga. in February 2020.

He said that while he did not believe Fetterman to be a racist, his actions still constituted an “act of gun violence.”

“I don’t think the parallels stop at Ahmaud Aubery,” Kenyatta said. “You can also look at Trayvon Martin. You can look at Kyle Rittenhouse – people who feel like they can be vigilantes. I mean, John is not f–ing Batman. There’s no way you can look at his behavior and say this is appropriate. … He has to model a basic level of leadership. A part of leadership is owning up to mistakes. … What he did was wrong. He knows it was wrong.”

Kenyatta was not holding his breath about Fetterman apologizing because “any type of accountability” for him feels “like persecution.”

“Powerful men like John are used to having to play by a different set of rules,” Kenyatta said at the debate. “He wasn’t held accountable because he was the mayor, and he’s trying not to be held accountable now.”

For his part, Fetterman did not offer a mea culpa at the debate, instead suggesting it wasn’t a big deal in the minds of majority-Black voters in Braddock who re-elected him. And his camp did not respond to DVJ’s emailed request for comment.

Kenyatta pointed out at the debate that Fetterman won re-election with only 186 votes.

“I’m not sure why you’d want to diminish a small marginalized Black community,” Fetterman shot back.

Even some of the most ardent of Fetterman’s supporters believe it would be good for him to apologize for the incident.

“People never let us forget our mistakes, even if you’re a lieutenant governor,” said Alim Howell, an activist with Race for Peace who spoke supportively of Fetterman. “I think it was just a family protection instinct. But I think he should apologize. We all have to apologize at some point for our actions.”

The activist said it would have been better for Fetterman to let the police handle the situation rather than intervening.

But two legal experts who spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal said the then-mayor’s actions appeared justified despite his opponents’ attempt to paint him as a vigilante and Fetterman’s own seemingly incriminating interview with a local news outlet that his actions that day may have run afoul of state law.

It can be a crime to point a gun at somebody in the state of Pennsylvania, but prominent defense attorney Charles Peruto Jr. said Fetterman was protected from prosecution because he was acting in an official capacity.

“As the mayor of Braddock, he is also in charge of the police department. He is ostensibly the highest law enforcement agent in town,” Peruto said. “He can hold the guy in custody for investigative purposes.”

Fetterman’s camp started using the term “chief law enforcement officer” last year to rebut suggestions from opponents like Kenyatta who accused him of acting like a vigilante, NBC News reported.

The Pennsylvania Association of Borough Mayors describes the duties of mayors in its handbook as “to preserve order in the borough, enforce the ordinances and resolutions, remove nuisances, exact a faithful performance of the duties of the officers appointed and perform such other duties assigned by law or ordinance.”

Former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said the law doesn’t punish people for “making mistakes of fact.”

“It punishes people for making intentional or reckless decisions that are objectively criminal or so obviously ‘bad’ as to be unreasonable under the circumstances known to the actor at the time. … My opinion is that there was no crime on its face,” he said.

The man at the other end of the shotgun, Miyares wrote to The Philadelphia Inquirer while serving a prison sentence for kidnapping, terrorist threats and unlawful restraint, among other crimes.

In letters, he claimed Fetterman “lied about everything” when he denied pointing the shotgun at his chest and claimed he did not initially know his race.

But Miyares said he did not believe the incident should keep the lieutenant governor from holding higher office.

“It is inhumane to believe one mistake should define a man’s life,” Miyares said. “I hope he gets to be a senator.”

Still, Democrats fear that any act of contrition from Fetterman at this point may ring hollow and won’t be enough to assuage the concerns of Black voters come the November general election..

“I don’t believe he can appeal to swing voters,” Lamb said at the debate.

Kenyatta, in the interview, encouraged his political rival to “sit with how his actions feel to Black and Brown Americans who have seen situations like this go in a different way.”

“This is telling us a lot about who John Fetterman is, and I’m not sure it’s telling us anything good,” Kenyatta said.

Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or

Lamb Goes Negative Against Frontrunner Fetterman

Rep. Conor Lamb has taken off the kid gloves in the Democrats’ primary for U.S. Senate, and he’s landing punches on one of the most controversial incidents in frontrunner Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s bio: using a gun to stop a Black man jogging nearby after saying he heard gunshots.

While polls show Fetterman is clear frontrunner in the race, his support among elected Democratic officials in the Delaware Valley is thin.

The Philadelphia Democratic Club, Bucks County Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Harvie, Bucks Commissioners Vice Chair Diane Marseglia, Delaware County DA Jack Stollsteimer, Delco Councilman Kevin Madden and Chester County Commissioners Chair Marian Moskowitz have all endorsed Congressman Conor Lamb.

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta

And Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who is also a Democratic Senate primary contender, is a darling of Hollywood and national progressive Democrats who have donated to his campaign.

Lansdale Mayor Garry Herbert is a strong Fetterman supporter.

Herbert likes Fetterman because “he is one of the most sincere people I’ve met in politics ever.  He shows up. He came to Lansdale and got to know our community, the business owners.” Fetterman listened to their concerns and offered to help, said Herbert.

The other reason is practical politics. Among the candidates, Fetterman is the only one who has won a statewide race, Herbert said.

“Nobody else did what he did statewide,” said Herbert.

When Fetterman ran with Gov. Tom Wolf for Wolf’s second term in 2018, that ticket brought in 1 million more votes than when Wolf ran with former Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, Herbert noted. Stack lost to Fetterman in the next primary after a high-profile kerfuffle with Wolf.

“If you want to win, you have the answer right there,” said Herbert, about Fetterman. “He’s bringing in new people to the Democratic Party. That’s what John Fetterman can do.”

Asked about why so many other elected officials are backing Lamb, Herbert said that it might be stereotypes about what a politician should look like. Fetterman, a 6-foot-9 inch man who eschews suits and ties, does not fit people’s idea of a typical politician.

“John is non-traditional,” said Herbert. “He doesn’t look like what people think a politician should look like. He’s not politically correct. It’s an optics thing.”

Fetterman “talks to people. He gets his hands dirty doing the deed. That’s some of the reasons why.”

At the moment, Fetterman leads Lamb in both money and polling. A recent Emerson College poll has Fetterman at 33 percent, Lamb at 10 percent and Kenyatta at 8 percent with 37 percent of the voters undecided. Dr. Kevin Baumlin, who polled at 8 percent, dropped out of the race last week.

Conor Lamb

Fetterman also skipped the first debate for the Democratic Senate candidates held at Muhlenberg College on April 3, leaving Lamb and Kenyatta attacking thin air.

And Fetterman ended 2021 with $5.3 million on hand after taking in $11.9 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. He loaded on another $3.1 million from January to March. While Lamb ended 2021 with $1 million after garnering $3.9 million and has not released his first quarter numbers yet.

Lamb has also attacked Fetterman as someone who Republicans can easily tar with the “socialist” description, since he supported and is supported by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and pointed to the incident where Fetterman pointed a gun at a Black jogger in 2013.

Lamb tweeted:  We all know why John Fetterman isn’t coming to the debate on Sunday.He doesn’t want to talk about the fact that he chased down an unarmed Black man and held him at gunpoint.That’s the elephant in the room. And we have to talk about it.  \

And a SuperPAC backing Lamb calls Fetterman a “silver spoon socialist” in a new television ad airing on Philadelphia stations.

Jeff Jubelirer, vice president with Bellevue Communications Group, said, “to date, it appears from current polling that Lamb has not yet made a significant dent into Fetterman’s lead and while he will certainly be up on the air (TV) with positive biographical and issue-oriented ads about himself and his campaign, he concurrently needs to put doubt in primary Democratic voters’ minds that Fetterman is an unelectable Senate candidate for the party.

“Raising the issue about Fetterman’s past incident is one way to do this, especially given the traditional strong base of Black support for the Democratic Party,” said Jubelirer.  “And alleging that Fetterman is a socialist is a strategy aimed at undecided Democratic voters who may consider electability one of their top reasons for determining who to support.  There is still time for Lamb to catch up to Fetterman, but the airwaves are crowded with candidates running for governor and Senate so he needs to make his move now.”

Herbert believes these attacks will fall short.

Fetterman was the mayor of Braddock and elected in a conservative area so “the idea that he is a socialist is just spin. John is blue-collar. It won’t stick to him,” said Herbert, about the socialist appellation.

Neither the Fetterman campaign nor the Lamb campaign responded to requests for comment. However, the Washington Post quoted Fetterman as saying of Lamb’s attacks, “Not one dollar that anyone entrusts in our campaign will be spent against a fellow Democrat. Look, it’s unfortunate that after Conor saw his poll numbers, he decided to embrace this attack, this smear. Because he knows it’s not true.”

Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or

Montco’s Arkoosh Drops Out of Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate

Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is suspending her campaign for Senate, saying her top priority is seeing a Democrat win the soon-to-be-open seat.

“We cannot let anything stand in the way of a Democrat being elected to the U.S. Senate,” Arkoosh said in a video statement released Friday. “The stakes are just too high. And it’s become clear to me that the best way I can ensure that happens is to suspend my campaign today and commit to doing whatever I can to help ensure we flip this Senate seat in November.

“My name may not be on the ballot, but make no mistake, I will still be fighting every day to help win this election,” Arkoosh added.

Two-term incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is not seeking re-election in November.

Previously, Arkoosh told the Delaware Valley Journal she was running for the Senate because she considered herself a “problem solver.”

“I hope to take that same problem-solving attitude to Washington,” Arkoosh said.

Now she will be keeping her problem-solving skills in Montgomery County, where she chairs the Board of Commissioners.

Jeff Jubelirer with Bellevue Communications Group said he was surprised Arkoosh had not gained more traction, given that it is a Democratic primary and she is the only woman in the campaign’s top tier.

Financial records show Arkoosh raised just $2.6 million for her campaign by the end of 2021, while competitor Lt. Gov. John Fetterman had $12 million.

Fetterman’s campaign also released a poll showing his support at 46 percent among Democratic voters, followed by Congressman Conor Lamb at 16, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta at 12, and Arkoosh at only 4 percent.

“I think the wild card for Montgomery County is Connor Lamb,” said Joe Foster, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. “The question is how successful has he been in establishing himself as a viable candidate among the voters here but also among the Democratic committee itself. I think Malcolm will do well among the committee and Fetterman will also do very well among the committee. We’ll have to see what Connor Lamb does.”

In her statement, Arkoosh expressed gratitude for the support she received.

“I want to thank my supporters and express my gratitude for all we accomplished. We helped make sure issues like abortion rights and climate change were part of the conversation around flipping this critical seat. We earned support in every corner of the Commonwealth, with more than 40 local endorsements behind this campaign. And importantly, we used each day of this campaign to hold Republicans, like Dr. Oz, to account – for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, undermining our democracy by denying the results of the 2020 election, and opposing policies that will help Pennsylvania families like the Child Tax Credit and bipartisan infrastructure law. That work remains so important. And it will continue today, tomorrow, and the next day.

“I will still be fighting every day to help win this election,” Arkoosh assured her fellow Democrats. “There’s too much at stake. I said from the beginning we would build a campaign about Pennsylvanians and for Pennsylvanians, and I will keep fighting for Pennsylvanians each and every day.”


Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or

Democrats Meet in Harrisburg This Week, Senate Endorsements Unlikely

This week the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee is holding its annual meeting in Harrisburg.

In past years, the committee voted on whether to endorse candidates for statewide office. This year that includes Senate, governor and lieutenant governor. Making a call on the governor’s race is easy since Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the only candidate who’s announced. And Shapiro has endorsed state Rep. Austin Davis for lieutenant governor. State Rep. Brian Sims and Ray Sosa, a consultant, are also running for lieutenant governor.

However, there are several people running for the Senate seat that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will be vacating, creating potential conflict for the PADSC.

The Democratic Senate candidates include Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Congressman Conor Lamb, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Dr. Val Arkoosh, and Philadelphia ER Dr. Kevin Baumlin, among others.

Montgomery County Democratic Chairman Joe Foster said, “With four candidates, it is typically unusual for a state party endorsement, so I doubt there will be one. I am going to state committee, and I do believe in endorsements. I don’t believe, however, one will be forthcoming with so many candidates at a very high 66 percent (approval) requirement for endorsement.”

Dr. Kevin Baumlin

The Delaware Valley Journal asked the leading Senate candidates whether they expect to be endorsed, whether the party will endorse anyone and why they should be the person who is endorsed.

Baumlin said that he does not believe the party will endorse any candidate, and the party should hold off because there is a contested primary.

“We need to let the voters of Pennsylvania decide who the nominee is,” said Baumlin. “The primary process will be a great opportunity for our party to showcase its diversity and platform to voters of the commonwealth.”

And if he were to be endorsed, Baumlin said that he would decline.

“The party’s nominee should not be decided by a small group of party insiders in Harrisburg. It should be decided by voters all across the commonwealth,” he said.

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta

Kenyatta was more circumspect.

“As always we are going everywhere and talking to everybody about how we restore the basic bargain for working families and deliver a government that actually works for them. My hope, and the work that we have done, is to earn as much support as possible.

“We have a people-powered campaign and regardless of the outcome, we will be back on the road talking about creating good jobs, good public education, safe communities with affordable housing, the ability to go to the doctor and fill the prescription when you leave, and clean air and clean water. I think that is a message that resonates all across Pennsylvania, and I hope to get as many votes as I can, and that is the message I will be delivering until the campaign is over.”

Arkoosh, Fetterman and Lamb declined to respond.



Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or