Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf waded into the Keystone State's crowded Democratic Senate primary Monday, throwing his endorsement behind former gubernatorial opponent and chief of staff Katie McGinty.
Wolf's endorsement hands McGinty the backing of the standard bearer of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, which gives her credibility among party activists and could aid McGinty's fundraising operation.
“I’m endorsing Katie McGinty to be our next U.S. Senator because I know she’ll be an incredible advocate for Pennsylvanians all across our commonwealth,” Wolf said in a news release. “Katie was one of my opponents during the primary, and I asked her to join my administration because she demonstrated that she's in politics for the right reasons. She is a ‘can do’ person who doesn't just talk about it, but one who works to get things done. I know she’s the Senator we need in Washington, D.C. because she shares the values of hard working Pennsylvanians and will be able to deliver for them.”
McGinty faces two other Democrats — former Rep. Joe Sestak and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman — in a primary. The winner will face freshman GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, one of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for re-election in 2016. Toomey faces voters in a presidential year in a state Democrat candidates have carried every four years since 1992.
Sestak starts the Democratic primary as the front-runner , as he's been raising money for the race almost since he lost the Senate contest to Toomey in 2010. National Democrats had been searching for an alternative to Sestak , an unconventional politician whose propensity to ignore party leaders' advice irks many in his own party.
Since McGinty's entrance into the race, she has racked up endorsements from prominent Pennsylvania Democrats, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and now Wolf, the popular Democratic governor who ousted a Republican incumbent in 2014 — an otherwise dismal year for Democrats on the ballot.
Third-quarter fundraising reports due by Oct. 15 will shed light on whether McGinty will have he kind of resources needed to take on Sestak in a primary fight.
Pennsylvania's Senate race is rated a Tilts Republican contest by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll call.
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