Decision 2024

A guide to Pennsylvania’s auditor general race

Republican Tim DeFoor and Democrat Malcolm Kenyatta face off in the race for the state’s top fiscal watchdog

Tim DeFoor; Malcolm Kenyatta

Tim DeFoor; Malcolm Kenyatta Commonwealth Media Services; Malcolm Kenyatta for Auditor General

November’s general election features several marquee matchups with statewide implications, and while most eyes are on the presidential and U.S. Senate races, the outcome of the commonwealth’s row office races could have a significant impact on the state in the near future. 

The party nominees for auditor general – incumbent Republican Tim DeFoor and Democratic state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta – both won their respective primaries by a wide margin, with DeFoor running unopposed and Kenyatta defeating Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley with nearly 65% of the vote. Now, less than six months away from Election Day, both candidates are looking to set themselves apart and garner the widespread support needed to earn a statewide victory. 

City & State has your guide to the campaign, candidate endorsements and more.

Timothy DeFoor

DeFoor surprised many in 2020 when he became the first person of color to win a statewide office in Pennsylvania and the first Republican to hold the auditor general position since 1997. Boasting his auditing and financial experience throughout the campaign, DeFoor leaned on his time investigating fraud – both for the state attorney general’s office and for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – as key indicators of his ability to oversee the state’s auditing authority. 

A Dauphin County native, DeFoor holds degrees from Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. He entered public service in 2015 when he was elected county controller in his home region of Dauphin. Once in office, DeFoor gained national attention for his work, including the creation of the county’s first audit division. 

Since his 2020 victory, DeFoor has sought to refocus the auditor general’s office on its more traditional scope, moving away from former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s efforts to broaden the office’s reach and auditing functions. His website states that he would focus his second term on cutting “wasteful government spending” and increasing transparency by ending “loopholes” that allow state agencies to hide details of government contracts. 

Endorsements: Pennsylvania Republican Party

DeFoor’s campaign has yet to respond to requests for a list of endorsements.

Malcolm Kenyatta

Upon winning the primary election, Kenyatta became the first openly LGBTQ candidate nominated for a state row office. A North Philadelphia native, Kenyatta opted to make another run at a statewide office less than two years after losing the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate to John Fetterman. 

Kenyatta isn’t new to making history, however. He became the first openly LGBTQ+ person of color to serve in the General Assembly when he took office in 2019 and has represented parts of North Philadelphia ever since. As an outspoken progressive, he has made a name for himself in the state and national parties during that time. In addition to serving as a surrogate for President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, Biden appointed Kenyatta to be chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans last year.

Kenyatta and DeFoor have been at odds before. A month after DeFoor took office as auditor general, Kenyatta questioned DeFoor about election fraud claims at a state House committee hearing following the 2020 election, a time when election integrity was being questioned after former President Donald Trump baselessly insisted there was widespread voter fraud. 

“I believe my election was fair,” DeFoor said at the time. “As far as anybody else’s election, that’s a conversation that you would have to have with them, but I haven’t heard any complaints with regards to my specific election.”

Kenyatta has since come at DeFoor on several occasions, even calling him an “election denier” who “hangs out with election deniers” following his primary election win. Kenyatta has also said he would bring back independent school district audits, a responsibility DeFoor handed back to the Department of Education when he took office. 

Endorsements: American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776, PA AFL-CIO, PA Building and Construction Trades Council, Working Families Party, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC, Human Rights Campaign PAC, Pennsylvania State Education Association, AFSCME Council 13, PASNAP, Reclaim Philadelphia, PA NOW, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and various local and regional officials