Showing a contrastive position from his race and endorsement in the party’s 2016 Senate primary, Gov. Tom Wolf said he will not make an endorsement in Democrats’ competitive 2022 U.S. Senate primary, even though his lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, has been considered as the party’s early front-runner.
Wolf expressed his neutrality in an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday. “I’m not weighing in on the primary.” He said he’s “letting the Democrats decide who they want in the primary, and then I will support that candidate.”
In 2019, Gov. Wolf endorsed state Attorney General Josh Shapiro for governor, even though Shapiro still has not formally announced his candidacy.
His declaration also represents a contrast from 2016, when he made an early endorsement in that year’s hard-fought Senate primary, backing Katie McGinty, his former chief of staff, over Fetterman and former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak. He weighed in less than two months after McGinty entered the race, and as the Democratic establishment coalesced around her.
Gov. Wolf noted that Shapiro is the only major Democratic figure said to be considering a run for governor, while a number of well-known Democrats are either actively campaigning or said to be eyeing the Senate contest.
Besides Fetterman, Democrats running for Senate include Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh and State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia. U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb of Allegheny County is also seen as a likely candidate, and State Sen. Sharif Street of Philadelphia has formed an exploratory committee.
Array of choices
Asked why he would endorse in the nascent gubernatorial primary but not for Senate, Wolf pointed to the array of choices in the Senate race.
“There’s really only one, that I know of, gubernatorial candidate,” he said. “I’ve worked closely with Josh for a long time, and I think he is a strong candidate and would be a good, good governor. All the (Senate candidates) who have announced so far I think are really good people. I would have no problem with any of them.”