Muhlenberg Hosts 2022 Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Democratic Debate

The first debate for the Pennsylvania Democratic candidates was broadcast and held on campus in front of a live audience on April 3.

By: Kristine Yahna Todaro  Thursday, April 7, 2022 02:50 PM

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From left: Candidates Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta and United States Representative Conor Lamb on the debate stage with moderators Ari Mittleman, Jenny DeHuff and Christopher Borick. Images: Marco Calderon/Muhlenberg College

An enthusiastic crowd filled the Seegers Union Event Space on the afternoon of Sunday, April 3, for the first 2022 Pennsylvanian U.S. Senate Democratic debate.

Democratic candidates State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta and U.S. Representative Conor Lamb addressed a variety of issues, answering questions about the challenges of political polarization, their support of unions, the rising costs facing the state's farmers, the impact of opioids, their stance on climate and energy issues as well as the economic and foreign policies they support.

The debate organizers were informed on March 31, without explanation, that Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman would not be attending the debate.

AJ Henley '24, president of the Muhlenberg College Democrats, opened the debate.

Pennsylvanians will go to the polls on Tuesday, May 17, to choose their nominee for the open Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey.

The debate was held in front of a live audience and broadcast by PCN. The broadcast is available to view without a paywall on PCN's Election 2022 webpage, under 'Democratic Race for U.S. Senate.'

The debate was co-sponsored by City & State PAPennsylvania Kitchen Table Politics and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion as well as by the student organizations Muhlenberg College Democrats and The Muhlenberg Weekly.

AJ Henley '24, president of the College Democrats, opened the debate by reminding the audience that the war in Ukraine is a powerful reminder that democracy and the ability to cast an educated vote should never be taken for granted.

"The opportunity to gather here todayas candidates face questions and address voters without preconditionsis a fundamental aspect of freedom of expression and a hallmark of our democracy," they added.

U.S. Representative Conor Lamb greets students following the debate.

A dozen Muhlenberg students volunteered for the debate, acting as guides for the candidates and members of the press, checking tickets and welcoming audience members.

The debate was moderated by Christopher Borick, Professor of Political Science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion; Jenny DeHuff, City & State PA editor-in-chief; and Ari Mittleman, founder and host of PA Political Podcast: Pennsylvania Kitchen Table Politics.

Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta with students after the debate.

Reporters from two dozen national and local media outlets attended the live debate, in some cases live tweeting throughout the event. To date, news about the debate has appeared in nearly 90 articles and videos, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bloomberg NewsNational Journal, POLITICO and The Washington Post.

Jenny Lee '24 (left) and Eitan Gitlin '25 check audience members' tickets. 

About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.