HARRISBURG — Democrats from across the Commonwealth will convene this weekend in Hershey when the Pennsylvania Democratic Party holds its annual winter meeting.
The main event will take place on Saturday morning, as committee members consider an endorsement in the U.S. Senate race. Unfortunately, the front-runners for this endorsement are both already facing serious doubts from Pennsylvania Democrats.
“There is no good choice for Pennsylvania Democrats this weekend,” said Republican Party of Pennsylvania Communications Director Megan Sweeney. “Both Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty are retreads candidates who run bad campaigns, have extreme liberal agendas, and play fast and loose with the ethics rules in public service.”
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Just in time for this weekend’s meeting, The Philadelphia Inquirer profiled the race for the Democratic nomination. But with choices this bad, perhaps foregoing an endorsement is for the best.
ICYMI: As primary nears, Dems wonder: Can McGinty rally?
The Philadelphia Inquirer
March 4, 2016
In interviews this week, more than a dozen Pennsylvania Democratic operatives and officials — most of them uncommitted in the race — largely praised [Katie] McGinty’s resume and intelligence.
But they also flagged warning signs. A majority said her campaign has so far left them, and party activists, flat. Her message, they said, has been too generic, tethered to well-worn talking points such as raising the minimum wage and “fighting for the middle class.”
They questioned the return on her spending: McGinty burned through $7 of every $10 raised last quarter without any gains in polling. Her campaign is now counting on outside support for a TV push over the finish line.
And finally, while asking not to be named critiquing their potential nominee, they worried about her embrace of insider endorsements – Gov. Wolf and former Gov. Ed Rendell, big labor unions and top Senate Democrats — in a year when voters have spurned traditional politics.
“People were expecting Katie to have a bigger impact than she has so far,” said David Dunphy, a Democratic consultant based in Philadelphia, and one of the few willing to speak publicly.
In late January, as she was meeting with Democratic senators in Washington, her chief rival, Joe Sestak, was in her home county, Chester, winning the local party endorsement.
Brian McGinnis, who had worked on Sestak’s campaigns years ago and now chairs the Chester Democrats, said McGinty could be a “great candidate,” but needed to be more visible.
“I’m really not sure what her campaign has been about so far,” he said.
A Franklin & Marshall poll released last week showed McGinty with 12 percent support among Democratic primary voters — statistically unchanged from the 13 percent she had when she entered the race in August.
Sestak will also likely have more money for the air war. He had a $1.4 million cash advantage as of the latest campaign filings.
Unless McGinty and the organizations supporting her can buy $3.5 million to $4 million of television time, “she won’t win,” said Rendell, her campaign chairman.