Former Pennsylvania Senate candidate Malcolm Kenyatta to run for auditor general

A Democratic state lawmaker said Thursday he is running for Pennsylvania auditor general in next year’s election, getting an early start on the campaign to lead the state’s fiscal watchdog agency.

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia, in announcing his candidacy, promised to overhaul how the agency tracks state and local government spending.

‘I think that it is time that we have an underdog to be the watchdog for working Pennsylvanians,’ Kenyatta told reporters at a news conference outside the state Capitol.

The post is currently held by incumbent Republican Tim DeFoor, who has not publicly announced whether he will seek reelection to another four-year term.

The auditor general generally serves as the state’s fiscal watchdog, auditing how money is spent and getting a say in approving general obligation bond issues and tax-anticipation notes.

However, people serving in the office have been able to use it to advance public policy goals, and it often serves as a springboard to other offices.

On Wednesday, Kenyatta said he would reestablish school audits that DeFoor had discontinued and focus on issues related to working people, such as wage theft and union rights.

Kenyatta is the first to announce his candidacy for the office in 2024 and is already familiar to many Democrats.

Kenyatta, 32, came in third in the three-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate last year, raising $2 million for the campaign before losing to then-Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Kenyatta is serving his third term in the state House of Representatives and, in his relatively short time in office, has become one of the most visible speakers during House floor debates.

He is the grandson of the late civil rights activist Muhammad I. Kenyatta and became the first openly gay person of color to serve in the state House after he was first elected in 2018.

He campaigned across the country for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race, before becoming one of 17 people to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

After losing the U.S. Senate primary, he hit the campaign trail to help his fellow Democrats around Pennsylvania in last year’s election, including Fetterman.

DeFoor, 61, was relatively unknown in state politics before he ran for auditor general in 2020, beating Democrat Nina Ahmad for the open seat.

DeFoor was previously the elected controller in Dauphin County, which includes Harrisburg, and touted his three decades of experience conducting governmental audits and fraud investigations for the state inspector general, the state attorney general and a hospital system.

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