Malcolm Kenyatta Becomes Second Out Candidate to Run for State Rep in the 181st

Community advocate Alex Deering announced his bid earlier this month in what’s already shaping up to be an unprecedented race.

Malcolm Kenyatta.

On Thursday, openly gay community leader and former Democratic National Convention delegate Malcolm Kenyatta announced his bid for state representative in the 181st District. This announcement comes shortly after out Democratic committeeman Alex Deering declared his candidacy on December 1st.

“I’m running to fight for what our neighborhoods can and should be,” Kenyatta said in an official announcement posted on social media. “I’m running so future generations don’t have to suffer under the weight of systemic poverty.”

Kenyatta, 27, is a North Philadelphia native who has been connected to Philadelphia politics since the age of 12, when he ran for junior block captain. Since then, the Temple graduate has worked as the campaign manager for lesbian community advocate Sherrie Cohen’s unsuccessful run for City Council, served as a DNC delegate, and became a notable local supporter for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. Kenyatta currently works for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and serves on the boards of Equality Pennsylvania, Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, and the Philadelphia branch of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

The announcement carries personal weight given that Kenyatta might be potentially challenging his cousin, long-time incumbent Curtis Thomas, who it was previously speculated would be stepping down to support his younger cousin. But Thomas, who has represented the 181st for 30 years, denied the rumors exclusively to Philadelphia magazine back in October, saying that he was not retiring and planned to seek re-election.

A spokesperson for Thomas now tells Philadelphia magazine that he will “no longer be discussing his campaign options until February when candidates have to officially declare.”

With Deering and Kenyatta now in the race, this will be the first time two openly gay candidates of color have challenged one another for the same elected office in Pennsylvania.