Democrat rising star Malcolm Kenyatta launches bid to become first out gay man in US Senate

Maggie Baska
·3-min read

Malcolm Kenyatta has announced he will be running for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat in 2022.

The second-term Pennsylvania state representative, dubbed a “rising star” at last year’s Democratic National Convention, announced his decision during an interview on MSNBC’s TheReidOut.

Kenyatta told host Joy Reid that there is nothing “written on a tablet that says America has got to succeed”.

“America succeeds because every generation steps up to protect and expand on the promise of America – a promise that has excluded for too long so many working families whose lives were tough prior to COVID, and this deadly pandemic has made those cracks even worse,” Kenyatta said.

He continued: “And so I know that we have an opportunity right now to expand on that promise, to make sure that we have a country that doesn’t just talk about justice and fairness for all, but that actually makes it real, and it’s with faith in that mission and joy in my heart that I’m announcing here tonight that I’ll be a candidate for the US Senate to represent the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

He joins fellow Democrats lieutenant governor John Fetterman and former Norristown borough councillor John McGuigan in the race to replace retiring Republican senator Pat Toomey.

Kenyatta was first elected as a state representative in 2018, and in a short time he’s made a name for himself with passionate speeches on subjects including raising the minimum wage and reforming state policing laws.

He told MSNBC that his top priorities in the race for the Senate seat were raising the minimum wage, student loan relief and clean energy. Kenyatta added he had already secured endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers and Working Families Party, a third party active in Philadelphia city politics.

If elected, he would become the first out gay Black man – and first out gay man full stop – elected to the US Senate.

Harris Wofford came out as gay in 2016, more than two decades after leaving the Senate. Tammy Baldwin was the first lesbian woman to serve openly in the Senate, joined in 2019 by Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual senator.

Malcolm Kenyatta: ‘Government hasn’t worked for working families like mine’

Shortly after his interview on MSNBC, Kenyatta released a campaign advert on Twitter and started crowdfunding for his political campaign.

In the commercial, he says he knows what it’s like to see an eviction notice on the door and work a minimum wage job, which he started doing at age 12.

“Unfortunately, my story isn’t that unique,” Kenyatta says. “It’s familiar to Pennsylvanians all across the commonwealth.”

He said: “We have to choose: are we going to go down the path of darkness, or are we ready to bring a new day to Pennsylvania?”