This is just the beginning -- more candidates are expected to follow.By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Philadelphia state representative tossed his hat into the U.S. Senate race on Friday.

His name is Malcolm Kenyatta, and he joins Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the race for the Democratic nomination to replace U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring next year.

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Candidates are getting an early start this year, and Kenyatta is just the latest in what could become a crowded field.

Two years ago, Kenyatta became the first openly gay person of color elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and the 30-year-old has been exciting the progressive left of his party ever since.

“If we are going to protect and expand the promise of America, we fundamentally have to have working people help to write and guide our public policies,” Kenyatta told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Growing up in North Philadelphia and no stranger to eviction notices, Kenyatta says he relates directly to the struggles of many Pennsylvanians and will take that to the U.S. Senate.

“I’m a do-something Democrat. People need us to do something right now, and that’s what I’ve done in Harrisburg,” says Kenyatta.

Kenyatta embraces the more liberal views of some Democrats, including a moratorium on fracking, replacing it with clean energy jobs.

Delano: “Would you end fracking jobs before you had those jobs available to folks in western Pennsylvania?”
Kenyatta: “No, we wouldn’t. The approach is, ‘let’s double-down on what’s going to work.'”

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Kenyatta and Fetterman will not be the only Democrats in the race.

Democratic political strategist Mike Mikus thinks one of three women outside Philadelphia will run — Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Chester County and U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean of Montgomery County.

And then there’s U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a more centrist Democrat from this region, who’s thinking of running, too.

Will he run?

“Fifty-fifty. I could not guess one way or the other,” says Mikus, adding, “I think he would be a strong compelling candidate.”

No matter who gets into the race, there is no front-runner.

“This primary is absolutely wide open,” says Mikus.

Young and progressive, Kenyatta has a good base to start. So does Fetterman both here and across the state. If Lamb enters, he could stake out the middle ground.

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This race is only just beginning.