Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has spent the better part of his campaign hammering Katie McGinty over Philadelphia’s status as a “sanctuary city,” convinced that his aggressive law-and-order message can make inroads with safety-minded voters.
The criticism is serious enough to make the Democratic nominee for Senate respond — in a TV ad that her campaign did not issue a press release about.
The 30-second spot, running in Philadelphia only, features McGinty talking directly to the camera to rebut the criticism.
“On crime, Pat Toomey’s attacks on me are shameful,” she says. “He’s making it up. Of course, anyone who commits a violent crime needs to be prosecuted and put behind bars.”
The ad then touts McGinty’s effort to better equip police officers and take on the gun lobby, before the Philadelphia native pivots to her own biography.
“I’m the daughter of a police officer, and the mother of three,” McGinty says. “I’ll stand with law enforcement to fight crime, and protect our families.”
The Toomey campaign has made a direct link between sanctuary cities — a city that has passed laws prohibiting local police from working with federal immigration authorities — and violent crime. “Katie McGinty is so extreme, she continues to support Philadelphia’s dangerous sanctuary city policy that has turned violent criminals loose on our streets,” Toomey spokesman Ted Kwong said in a press release Monday.
Using valuable air time to respond to an opponent’s attacks is usually a sign of vulnerability on the subject. Generally speaking, campaigns also usually issue press releases announcing an ad.
A McGinty campaign spokesman said it does not usually highlight TV ads in press releases. The spokesman said the ad began running on Tuesday.
More than other Senate Republican candidates, Toomey has emphasized his support for police officers while criticizing McGinty for not asking that Philadelphia revoke its status as a sanctuary city.
McGinty has said she wants changes to Philadelphia’s status as a sanctuary city but did not call for the policy to be revoked.
The contest between McGinty and Toomey is one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country. Recent polls have shown McGinty edging into a narrow lead, likely thanks to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s own struggles in the Keystone State.
The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates this race a pure tossup.