Pennsylvania lawmaker Malcolm Kenyatta, 30, announces bid for US Senate

If elected, Kenyatta would become the nation's youngest and first openly Black gay senator

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Malcolm Kenyatta, the history-making Pennsylvania state representative, has announced that he is running for the U.S. Senate in 2022. If elected, Kenyatta, who is 30, would become the nation’s youngest and the first openly gay male senator.

House Rep. (PA) Malcolm Kenyatta attends “Out in Office” panel at Tribeca Celebrates Pride Day at 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at Spring Studio on May 4, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Kenyatta announced his bid for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat on Thursday night to Joy Reid, host of MSNBC’s The ReidOut.

“America is really at a crossroads right now. I think that was made even more clear by what happened on Jan. 6., and the reality is there’s nothing written on a tablet somewhere that says America has to succeed,” Kenyatta said on the primetime cable news show.

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“America succeeds because every generation steps up to protect and expand the promise of America; a promise that 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.

“I know we have an opportunity right now to expand that promise. To make sure we have a country that doesn’t just talk about justice and fairness for all but that actually makes it real,” he added.

“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 United States Senate to represent the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

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Kenyatta, who was a progressive activist before being elected to the state representatives of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, has thrown his hat in what already appears to be a crowded field after Republican Sen. Pat Toomey announced he will not be seeking reelection.

As The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “The race is seen as one of the most competitive in the country and will help determine control of the Senate.”

“If we say we’re the party for working people then when working people run for office, let’s lift them up,” he told the Inquirer. “If we’re the party that believes in Black Lives Matter, then when Black candidates run for office, let’s lift up that experience.”

Kenyatta has quickly become a rising star in the Democratic Party as a prominent young and forceful voice and has used social media to his political advantage. In 2016 and 2020, Kenyatta was selected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

When he was elected to the state representatives in 2018, Kenyatta became Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state representative and one of the youngest. His election would continue a growing list of firsts for the young politician, as he would become the first openly gay man to serve in the U.S. Senate, as well as the first openly gay person of color.

Kenyatta is married to husband Dr. Matthew Miller, who is a professor and author.

Prior to his rise in politics, Kenyatta worked as a community activist in his hometown of Philadelphia and later served as a political consultant. He has often shared his passion to end poverty, particularly in communities of color, and has shared how his family’s own struggle with poverty caused him to get a job at 12 to help his mother pay bills.

He evoked his personal story in an official campaign video released shortly after announcing his U.S. Senate bid on MSNBC.

“I know what it’s like to see an eviction notice, to work a minimum wage job. My first one was at the age of 12, working to support my family. My dad was a social worker. My mom was a home healthcare aide. No matter how hard they worked struggled to make ends meet for me and my siblings. And unfortunately my story isn’t that unique,” Kenyatta says in the video.

“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?”

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