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Kenyatta is the first Democrat to declare a run.
Kenyatta is the first Democrat to declare a run. Photo: Office of State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta

Malcolm Kenyatta is running for PA Auditor General, looks to be the state’s chief fiscal watchdog

The Pennsylvania State Representative announced his candidacy on the steps of the State Capitol in Harrisburg, on Thursday, March 9.

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What better time to announce one’s candidacy for Pennsylvania Auditor General than during budget week? 

PA State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta — over a year removed from his loss to U.S. Senator John Fetternman in the Democratic primary for Senate last year — is hitting the campaign trail again as he announced his candidacy for state Auditor General on Thursday, March 9 in Harrisburg.

“I’m running for Auditor General, because it’s time that an underdog is the watchdog for working families,” he said in a tweet announcing his candidacy. 

Kenyatta was the first openly-Gay person to run for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania and would have been the first Gay Black U.S. Senator. 

As the state’s chief fiscal watchdog, they hold the responsibility to ensure that state money is spent legally and properly by way of thorough audits of agencies and departments. 

If Kenyatta were to win the Democratic nomination in 2024, he would take on the incumbent auditor general, Tim DeFoor, a Republican elected in 2020, whose re-election announcement is expected this Summer or early Fall, according to a spokesperson who told the Inquirer.

Kenyatta is the first Democrat to announce their candidacy. He’s also a familiar face among many of the state’s Democrats and could soon be announcing one of many endorsements to come so early in the race. 

Former state House speaker and Berks County Representative Mark Rozzi has also hinted at a possible run after recently stepping down as House Speaker a day prior Rep. Joanna McClinton’s election as the new speaker and as the first woman and second Black person to lead the chamber.

On the day of his campaign announcement, Kenyatta also announced several endorsements, including House Speaker McClinton, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, the American Federation of Teachers, and U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans, Matt Cartwright, and Susan Wild. 

Kenyatta is looking to unseat the incumbent DeFoor, the state’s first Black auditor general, who had a career in audits and investigations before taking the job. He was previously at the Office of Inspector General investigating government and contractor waste, and Medicaid fraud. 

DeFoor was also controller for Dauphin County. 

Kenyatta, a third-generation North Philadelphia native, wants to be the one in charge of overseeing how money is being spent and if the individuals, families, and communities who really need it, get it, or he’ll work to find other ways to better serve them. 

He’s served as State Representative for roughly five years and has held multiple legislative leadership roles throughout that time, including being a member of the State Government Committee, overseeing state agencies and elections, as minority Chair of the Subcommittee on Campaign Finance and Elections, minority Chair of Automation and Technology in the Committee on Commerce, and a member of the Finance Committee.

One of his several plans announced on his official website include rebuilding the bureau of school audits, restarting the annual compliance audits ended by DeFoor, and demanding accountability from all our schools, even cyber charter schools.

Kenyatta will also fight for workers by creating a worker liaison and take on wage theft, employee misclassification, and union busting. He’d protect pension funds by ensuring they are adequately funded and managed.

He also wants to use the power of the office to make communities healthier and safer by first being transparent on how huge hospital nonprofits and long term care providers use state dollars. In regards to crime, and gun violence, he wants to analyze their current approach to community safety and gun violence reduction to pinpoint investments in the things that prove to be effective. 

Kenyatta’s run for auditor general is another major step taken in his career that has quickly risen in popularity and visibility over the last five years. It started back in 2020 when he was chosen by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention along with a group of other ‘Rising Stars.’

He’s also become a regular on local and national media outlets including 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. His career and life are now the subject of two documentaries: an award-winning short, Going Forward and an Al Roker-produced feature length film, Kenyatta: Do Not Wait Your Turn.

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