Democrats desperate to derail Joe Sestak’s career have apparently succeeded in recruiting Katie McGinty to run. Sestak angered Dems when he ran against GOP turncoat Arlen Specter six years ago. He won that race then lost a narrow race to Pat Toomey in 2010 when a big Republican wave swept them into offices they still hold. Ed Pawlowski was the first challenger recruited but he went down in a ball of flames following an FBI raid of his offices a few weeks ago. McGinty is their latest pawn.
McGinty is Tom Wolf’s Chief of Staff in the Governor’s Office and leaves at a critical time because negotiations on the state budget continue. This isn’t a good time for Wolf to lose his COS though he has several strong potential replacements. Mary Isenhour, TJ Rooney, David Sweet and John Hanger are considerations for the job.
Katie ran poorly statewide in her only previous experience as a statewide candidate. Running for Governor against Wolf and others she placed a poor fourth. He chose her to run his statewide campaign then appointed her COS. The Fresh Start campaign failed in electing down ballot candidates and, in fact, the GOP expanded its hold on Harrisburg leading to the present budget crisis. How an inexperienced and failed candidate can successfully challenge Sestak at this point show the desperation of state and national Democrats to get even with him. The result is they may well lose a Senate seat they should be primed to win.
Toomey is very vulnerable after a rabidly partisan voting record and voting support for the austere Ryan budgets. He goes around Pennsylvania telling people he supports their causes then votes against them in Washington. As a first term Senator this is when he’s most vulnerable. If he wins re-election it will be very hard to unseat him as a twelve year entrenched incumbent.
Democrats seem blind to this in their tunnel vision about Sestak. Vengeance is more important than victory. They must deny Joe the seat more than deny it to the GOP. The former Congressman and Admiral has already been campaigning for two years and on July 4th he said he had 600 volunteers distributing campaign material at parades. Even if national Dems pour money into Katie’s campaign and create a media war Joe has shown his media ads can be devastating. Then he has that large ground operation established…
McGinty’s claim to fame statewide was her tenure as DEP Secretary under Ed Rendell. A pro-fracking candidate for Governor she received significant money from the energy industry. She also served in the Clinton Administration.
I simply don’t understand why Democrats would choose to deplete Sestak’s cash reserves in a contested primary and leave Toomey in a position to win. She has just ten months to build a staff, craft a message (I supported Specter!) and overtake the Admiral. The thinking here is that he’ll shoot her down. Unfortunately the effort may bring us six more years of Pat Toomey in the Senate. Stupid.
Update: Mary Isenhour has been named the new Chief of Staff. I’d be surprised if Rooney didn’t take her previous job.