Attack Ads Already Flying in Hotly Contested Pennsylvania Senate Race

McGinty / Toomey attack ads

It’s been just a week since the Pennsylvania primary election, but the general election is ramping into high gear — at least in the race for the state’s junior senate seat. Per the Associated Press, “tens of millions of dollars” are expected to be spent by outside groups in the race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat.

Katie McGinty, the Democratic establishment-backed candidate, easily bested Joe Sestak and John Fetterman for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey was unopposed in the Republican primary; he beat Sestak, 51-49 percent, in the 2010 Senate election. This race is also expected to be close.

The general election began even on primary election night, when Friends of Pat Toomey paid for a Snapchat filter attacking Katie McGinty at McGinty’s election-night party. Meanwhile, several outside groups have already begun airing attack ads.

The Club for Growth, a conservative group that pushes tax cuts and reduced government spending, is airing ads attacking McGinty. This one has been airing during Phillies games in the area. Toomey, a U.S. Congressman for three terms in the late ’90s and early 2000s, was president of the Club for Growth between 2005 and 2009.

McGinty has never held elected office. The ad, which helpfully notes it is an “actor portrayal” of McGinty, accuses her of funneling grants to her husband. The website Blue Nation Review calls the ad “sexist.”

McGinty’s camp has released a detailed response to the ad. The campaign says much of the work going to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (where Karl Hausker works as a consultant on several projects) began under Republican administrations. The campaign also says McGinty has never been a lobbyist, and that several newspaper editorials called the “largest tax increase” claim “deceptive.”

“McGinty’s fight for the middle class is resonating across the state and it’s no wonder that Pat Toomey’s allies are up with a baseless attack to distract from Toomey’s hurtful record against Pennsylvanians,” Sabrina Singh, McGinty’s communications director, said. “It is hard to take an ad like this seriously but what is serious is Pat Toomey’s commitment to putting Wall Street and special interests ahead of Pennsylvanians.”

Ah, yes, Wall Street. That’s the subject of an ad launched by the AFSCME PEOPLE Independent Expenditure, an arm of the union, against Toomey. It notes his long record as an investment banker and his support of loosening government restrictions that caused the financial crisis.

The Toomey camp responded with a long press release responding to the claims in the ad. The campaign says Toomey opposed the Wall Street bailout and has introduced legislation to end “too big to fail” banks. Toomey has also worked with Democratic senators to sponsor legislation ending subsidies for the sugar and corn industries, his campaign says.

“Pat Toomey is widely known for his longtime efforts to fight corporate cronyism and stop government handouts to special interest groups,” Toomey for Senate spokesman Ted Kwong said. “Katie McGinty has built her entire career on doing just the opposite, using her posts in government to enrich herself on corporate boards and her friends with taxpayer dollars.”

It’s only May. Get ready for more of this all the way to November.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.

The No-Bullshit Guide: 2016 Election’s Biggest Winners and Losers

From L to R:

Clockwise: Mayor Jim Kenney, state Rep. Dwight Evans, Councilman Darrell Clarke, U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman and labor leader John Dougherty.

Oftentimes, elections feel like they’ve been decided by the powers that be before they’re even over. The 2016 primary was different: It was full of genuine nail-biters. At 8:30 p.m., I headed to state Rep. Dwight Evans’ Election Night party at Temptations on Chelten Avenue, and everyone around me spent the first hour-and-a-half of the celebration hunched over, obsessively refreshing the Department of State’s website on their phones as votes from different areas were counted. They weren’t just tracking Evans’ bid for the 2nd Congressional District seat — they were also following the Attorney General’s race, which looked like it might be won by Stephen Zappala at the beginning of the evening, as well as several close state legislative races.

By the end of the night, a seemingly unstoppable labor leader had lost, along with an indicted congressman, a bajillion-year incumbent, and a state representative who is part of one of the most powerful political machines in the city. What a wild election.

The Winners

1. The Northwest Coalition

The Northwest Coalition, led by Evans and former Councilwoman Marian Tasco, helped put Jim Kenney in the mayor’s office last year. The alliance was also instrumental in electing Derek Green and Cherelle Parker to Council. Now, one of its own is going to Congress — Evans defeated U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in the 2nd Congressional District race yesterday. (Yes, Evans will technically face Republican James Jones in the fall. But, with the district being overwhelmingly Democratic, we all know how this movie ends.) Another sign of the organization’s rising power: Relish, the Northwest Coalition’s Election Day lunch spot, drew bigger crowds yesterday than Famous 4th Street Deli.

What does this mean for the future? Good things for Parker, potentially, if she runs for mayor in 2023. It could also mean bad things for District Attorney Seth Williams if the Northwest Coalition decides to support a challenger when he runs for reelection next year. (Tasco isn’t a fan of Williams’.) It’s worth noting, however, that the coalition did suffer one loss yesterday, which proves it isn’t indestructible: state Rep. Tonyelle Cook-Artis, its pick in the 200th House District race, was not reelected. Read more »

Katie McGinty Soundly Beats Joe Sestak for Democratic Senate Nomination

Katie McGinty (left), Joe Sestak (right)

Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak (AP) 

Katie McGinty, Governor Tom Wolf‘s former chief of staff, won the four-way race Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate tonight, thoroughly beating her top rival, former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak.

The Associated Press called the race shortly before 10:30 p.m. With results from 84 percent of the precincts across the state reported, McGinty had netted 42 percent of the votes. Sestak was in a distant second place, with just 32 percent of the vote.

For most of the campaign, McGinty trailed Sestak, the former U.S. Navy Admiral who was the Democratic nominee U.S. Senate nominee in 2010 and came thisclose to beating Republican Pat Toomey. But McGinty surged late, and Sestak’s unpopularity with Democratic party elites seems to have caught up with him.

John Fetterman, the extremely large, tattooed mayor of the borough of Braddock won plenty of media attention, but trailed in the polls throughout the campaign. He finished third, but his 20 percent showing was stronger than expected, and could set him up for another campaign for a different office. Read more »

At Famous 4th Street Deli Today, Huge Sammiches, Small Crowd

Senatorial candidate Katie McGinty (left), South Jersey Democratic Party power broker George Norcross (middle, right) were among those in the crowd at the Famous 4th Street Deli.

Senatorial candidate Kathleen McGinty (left) and South Jersey Democratic Party power broker George Norcross (middle, right) were among those in the crowd at the Famous 4th Street Deli.

Few political traditions in Philadelphia are quite as cherished as the Election Day gathering at Famous 4th Street Deli. (Yeah, we know you’re going to make a joke here about corruption being the most cherished tradition here. Go for it.)

There’s gossiping and backslapping and repeated attempts from political types in suits to look graceful as they shove sandwiches the size of car batteries into their mouths. But the scene today was oddly quiet. Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham made an appearance, as did City Councilman Derek Green.

George Norcross, the South Jersey Democratic power broker, was hunkered down at a table with former Daily News city editor Gar Joseph and political guru Neil Oxman, among a handful of others. There was no sign of state attorney general candidate Stephen Zappala, despite a plethora of Zappala campaign fliers outside. Read more »

Harper Poll: McGinty Moves to First Place, Shapiro Has Commanding Lead

senate-primary-poll

The final poll of the Pennsylvania primary, conducted by conservative firm Harper Polling, found that Katie McGinty has moved into first place just one day before the Democratic Senate primary. Previous polls showed Joe Sestak leading the race, or Sestak and McGinty tied. In the poll, 39 percent of voters said they would vote for Katie McGinty — compared to just 33 percent for Joe Sestak, 15 percent for John Fetterman and 3 percent for Joseph Vodvarka. Eleven percent are undecided.

In the previous Harper Poll in early April, Sestak had 41 percent, McGinty had 31 percent and Fetterman had 9. (Vodvarka, who had been kicked off the ballot but was reinstated last week, was not polled that time.) Read more »

The No-Bullshit Guide to the 2016 Philadelphia Primary

Philadelphia Primary 2016

Clockwise: U.S. Senate candidates Joe Sestak, Katie McGinty and John Fetterman, and Congressional candidates Dwight Evans and Chaka Fattah.

By now, you probably know whether you’re voting for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich. My God, how couldn’t you know? The country has been bombarded with non-stop news coverage of the race for months.

But here’s the thing: There are a lot of important races this year that have nothing to do with Bernie Bros or #AnyoneButTrump. For instance, the results of the Attorney General’s election may well determine whether the office, y’know, functions after Kathleen Kane steps down. Meanwhile, the Democrat who wins Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary will take on Pat Toomey in the fall, and that race will help decide whether Democrats take back the GOP-controlled chamber.

We don’t blame you if you haven’t paid close attention to these races. That’s what this election guide is for. It’s a brutally honest, simple-to-understand description of the candidates’ pros and cons. Here are your choices.

The offices:

Read more »

Trump, Clinton Lead in New Pennsylvania Poll — But Trump’s Rivals Are Gaining Ground

Franklin and Marshall poll - Trump and Clinton

The results from the latest Franklin & Marshall poll of registered voters.

A new poll from Franklin & Marshall has Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump out in front in Pennsylvania — but Trump’s rivals are gaining ground.

Clinton has led throughout F&M’s polling; she’s ahead of Bernie Sanders among registered Democrats in the state by a 53 percent to 28 percent margin. In October, that margin was 52-18. Though Bernie has gained, he’s picked up supporters of other candidates and undecideds. Clinton’s lead seems secure; FiveThirtyEight gives her a 97 percent chance of winning the state’s primary.

Things are more interesting on the Republican side.  Trump leads the field with 33 percent of the vote. But John Kasich is not far behind with 30 percent, while Ted Cruz has 20 percent. Seventeen percent of voters still don’t know.

This is quite the change from October, when Trump had 23 percent but Kasich had 6 percent and Cruz just 4. The race is fluid; FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 48 percent chance of victory in the state. Read more »

Bob Casey Endorses Katie McGinty in Senate Primary

Bob Casey (left), Katie McGinty

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has endorsed Katie McGinty in the primary for the state’s other U.S. Senate seat.

“McGinty will fight tirelessly for Pennsylvania families,” Casey told the Associated Press, “and I’m proud to endorse her.”

Casey, the son of Pennsylvania’s governor from 1987 to 1995, has been a senator since 2006. He is pretty popular: He knocked Rick Santorum out of office with 59 percent of the vote that year, and won re-election with 54 percent of the vote in 2014.

Casey’s endorsement cements McGinty as the establishment candidate this year. She has a long list of establishment backers, including former Philly mayor and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Gov. Tom Wolf. McGinty ran against Wolf in the gubernatorial primary two years ago and was later his chief-of-staff. Read more »

What They’re Saying: Pennsylvania Pols React to Obama’s Pick for Supreme Court

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Today, Barack Obama made one of the most important decisions of his presidency: In his final NCAA tournament poll, he picked the Kansas Jayhawks to win the NCAA Championship.

Oh, wait. He also nominated Merrick Garland for the vacant spot on the Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia died last month.

The president has even launched a website section — complete with FAQ! — about Garland’s qualifications. Notably, it includes a quote from ultra-conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch praising Garland as a possible pick for the Supreme Court.

Naturally, the Republicans don’t want to confirm Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. They have cited the Thurmond Rule, a guideline that judges shouldn’t be confirmed in the run-up to an election, though that guideline generally refers to a six-month time period. Basically: The GOP would rather have a conservative nominate the next Supreme Court justice, and it’s close enough to the election that Republicans can probably stall until then.

As such, Mitch McConnell said the GOP won’t even hold hearings on Garland. Republicans have a majority in the Senate, which needs to confirm Supreme Court nominees, and they plan to sit this one out. Read more »

EMILY’s List Vows $1M to Back McGinty

Businesswoman and former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty has run a solid campaign, building a network and achieving fundraising success. But most important, she, unlike opponents Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord, stayed away from attacking Wolf. Given that, combined with Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s implosion and much of the Democratic establishment disliking former congressman Joe Sestak, watch for the articulate McGinty to quickly become the frontrunner against freshman Pat Toomey in 2016.

Katie McGinty

EMILY’s List, the political action committee that supports pro-choice female Democratic candidates, said this week it will pump $1 million into Katie McGinty’s campaign.

McGinty is competing with former Congressman Joe Sestak and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman for the Democratic nomination, sandwiched between the two in most polls. The pledge comes as observers and rivals were questioning whether she’d have enough money on hand to mount a serious charge before the April 26 primary. Read more »

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