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John Fetterman, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Conor Lamb debate tonight. Here’s how to watch and what we’re looking for.

In the first debate, Conor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta directed more attacks at the empty podium meant for John Fetterman than at each other. This time, Fetterman will be there to respond.

Left to right, Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidates Conor Lamb, Malcolm Kenyatta, and John Fetterman.
Left to right, Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidates Conor Lamb, Malcolm Kenyatta, and John Fetterman.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

After months of campaigning on shared Zoom screens and in some in-person forums, the top candidates in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary will share a debate stage for the first time Thursday night.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic front-runner, got a lot of heat for skipping the first debate earlier this month. He’ll be there Thursday along with State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb.

How to watch: The one-hour debate will be broadcast on eight television stations across the state, including WPHL-TV (PHL17) in Philadelphia. It will also be live-streamed at PHL17′s website. In addition, the debate will be live-streamed on WETM-TV (NBC) in Elmira, N.Y., WPIX-TV (CW) in New York City, WIVB-TV (CBS) in Buffalo, and WDVM-TV (IND) in Washington, D.C.

Who: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, April 21.

Where: abc27 Studios in Harrisburg.

Moderators: Dennis Owens, WHTM abc27 news anchor and Capitol Bureau reporter, and Lisa Sylvester, WPXI anchor.

What we’ll be watching for

Can Conor Lamb break through?

In an April poll of the race, about a quarter of Democratic voters were undecided. Fetterman had 41% support in the Franklin & Marshall College survey, Lamb 17%, and Kenyatta only 4%. Now is when a lot of voters will start paying attention. Will Kenyatta or Lamb make a splash that can boost them in the final weeks?

» READ MORE: Conor Lamb’s challenge: Build his name. Take down Fetterman. And do it all with less money.

Lamb has tried to separate himself in the race as the candidate who can appeal to more centrist Democrats and beat Republicans in a closely divided swing state. He’s racked up endorsements from elected Democrats across Pennsylvania, and he has an allied super PAC supporting him on the airwaves. But he’s done little to move the needle. How well does he get his “I’m the guy who can win” pitch across to voters on the debate stage? Will any of it be enough to make a difference with just weeks left before the May 17 primary?

What about Malcolm Kenyatta?

Kenyatta, who pitches himself as the lone working-class Democrat in the race, has remained a credible candidate despite having a fraction of the campaign cash his rivals have. But with four weeks to go and little money for TV ads, he’s struggling to amplify that message. Kenyatta has leaned more into progressive positions like banning fracking, abolishing the Electoral College, and expanding the size of the Supreme Court.

» READ MORE: Malcolm Kenyatta is tired of being told a Black gay man from North Philly can’t win Pa.

He’s also a good debater and he’s comfortable on live TV, having plenty of practice on MSNBC. One of his biggest assets is he’s the only established candidate from the Philadelphia region left in the race. He’ll be sharing a stage with two opponents from Western Pennsylvania, so we’re curious how he might try to appeal to Southeastern Pennsylvania voters to go with the hometown guy.

How well does John Fetterman fend off attacks?

In the first debate, Kenyatta and Lamb directed more attacks at the empty lectern meant for Fetterman than at each other. They’re almost sure to do the same this time — but this time Fetterman will be there to respond.

» READ MORE: John Fetterman doesn’t just have supporters — he has fans. His celebrity could make him a senator.

Lamb has suggested Fetterman is seen as too progressive to win a general election. Both Lamb and Kenyatta have hammered Fetterman over a 2013 incident that has loomed over his campaign, in which Fetterman pulled a shotgun on a Black jogger whom he had wrongly suspected of a shooting. Fetterman has defended his actions in recent forums, but on Thursday night he’s likely to explain his side of the story in front of his biggest audience yet, live on TV.

Do we learn anything more about where these candidates differ on policy?

There aren’t a whole lot of policy differences among the three candidates on big issues. But there are some things they disagree on. And Lamb and Fetterman have shifted their stances on gun control and fracking. So far, it hasn’t been a campaign heavy on these topics, but in a room where they’ll want to differentiate, we might hear more.

Does Fetterman wear a suit?

And no, this doesn’t count.