BREAKING: Isenhour Named Governor Wolf’s New Chief of Staff

Wolf-McGinty-Isenhour
Photo by Karen Langley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The transition is now complete.

Katie McGinty has stepped down as Gov. Wolf’s Chief of Staff and Mary Isenhour will be taking her place.

McGinty is leaving to run for a Senate seat next year. She’ll face Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary, and if successful there, Sen. Pat Toomey in the general election.

As for the new Chief of Staff, Isenhour has been with Wolf from the very beginning.

She signed on to his campaign as a senior advisor while many pundits were debating whether Allyson Schwartz or Rob McCord would prevail in the Democratic primary. Isenhour also has a long resume as a political strategist and was serving as the Governor’s Secretary of Legislative Affairs.

Isenhour was one of our favorites to win the position and the choice makes sense during this period of budget stalemate.

The switch does bring into question, however, whether Wolf made a good initial decision when he picked McGinty to be his first Chief of Staff.

The two developed a good rapport and he originally wanted her to be party chair. When that didn’t work out, she was installed as the head of his party in absentia, FreshStartPA.

While an incredibly important position, Chief of Staff is not a glamorous job. Few politicians can make a smooth transition to staffer.

Wolf’s call mirrored President Obama’s first choice for Chief of Staff, ex-Rep. Rahm Emanuel. The results of that marriage were decidedly mixed and Rahm went on to become Mayor of Chicago just a year into Obama’s first term.

In fact, McGinty did ruffles the feathers of Harrisburg Republicans. Angela Couloumbis of the Inquirer reports that State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman once told the Governor he prefered McGinty not be in the negotiating room.

If the budget standoff doesn’t end satisfactorily and McGinty can’t defeat Sestak, we’ll have to wonder if the decisions of July should have been made in January.

UPDATE: The Governor’s office released the following statement:

“Katie McGinty has been an invaluable advisor and friend, and her contributions to the Commonwealth will be remembered. We worked together to expand Medicaid, eliminate the unfair and costly SNAP asset test, save the children’s health insurance program in Pennsylvania, and implement key government reforms like a gift ban,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Katie’s work has help lay the course for my administration, and I greatly appreciate her efforts to fix our schools, create jobs, and build a better Pennsylvania.”

“It has been an honor to serve Governor Tom Wolf,” said Katie McGinty. “I am proud to have helped to fight to expand Medicaid and eliminate unfair asset tests while advocating for policies that will fund our schools and strengthen our middle class. I will continue to fight for the principles and polices that we worked on in the Wolf Administration including fixing our schools, creating jobs, and advocating for a living wage for our workers.”

“Mary Isenhour is one of my closest advisors, and she has served as a valuable part of my administration,” said Tom Wolf. “Mary has earned respect from Republicans and Democrats, and she has vast and diverse experience in government that will help to guide my administration. I am eager to continue to work with Mary in her new role as my Chief of Staff.”

“It is an honor to serve as Governor Wolf’s Chief of Staff, and I look forward to continuing to work with the governor and the administration to serve the people of Pennsylvania,” said Mary Isenhour. “Governor Wolf has the right priorities for the Commonwelath: schools that teach, jobs that pay, and government that works, and I look forward to working with him to implement his vision.”

20 Responses

  1. Quit blaming Philadelphia. We aren’t responsible for Rendell!! We know more than anyone. He belongs to Montco!!!!!!

  2. Right on Jeff, agree 100%. I have been a lifelong Dem and voted for Wolf. I will Never again vote for anyone these clowns endorse.

  3. why doesn’t Rendell just hold all these offices himself instead of putting his puppets in. RENDELL THE PUPPET MASTER some of out here where we don’t matter are about to say time for a change of party and let you keep Philly all to yourself. You idiots play right into the Republican complaints. “Everything goes to Philly” ….. and or is controlled by Philly. I really had a lot of hope for Tom Wolf until I realized he was another Rendell Puppet. Looks to me like one term governors are going to be the new norm.

  4. You can’t blame Republican obstructionism on Isenhour, or McGinty, or anyone in the anyone in the Governor’s office for that matter.

  5. Whistleblower-

    I’m not making a pro/con judgment on Mary being a good/bad choice. I’m just merely pointing out that she is very sharp/experienced. Whether she’s burned bridges is a separate question.

    But, she is strong Wolf loyalist and will operate according to his wishes. If she disagrees, she’s strong enough to speak her mind about it, to give Wolf an alternative opinion before he makes his final decision.

    My dealings with Mary have been very limited in scope and context, so I haven’t had any problem with her and she seemed to be a straight-shooter with me. I’ve certainly heard plenty of criticism (and some from people I trust), but some of it is sour grapes from people who didn’t get things their way. I haven’t heard enough consistent stories either way to condemn her or praise her beyond what I’ve already said.

    I hope she does a good job and wish her luck.

    So, I’ll take the “Mythbusters” approach on her being a problem: “Plausible, but not Confirmed”.

  6. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
    You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
    Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
    You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
    Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
    Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
    Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once
    That make ingrateful man!

  7. Whistleblower, the Senate will work with Mary. Mary is not the type to get up in front of a press audience and take jabs at the Senate for lining their own pockets in a pension bill. That kind of self-promoting Trumpesque blabber-mouthing is what McGinty is all about, which is why she will lose her US Senate campaign. Mary is about the work of the Governor’s office.

  8. I’m a DD super fan on most occasions. Isenhour is a horrible choice. The Senate won’t work with her. We had hope for budget if the choice was David Sweet. Now there will be nothing.

  9. Down-

    Mary’s made her share of enemies, and those who lost battles to her may disparage her skill or integrity. However, she is a sharp political operative and loyal to Wolf. Corman is not going to be able to push her around (or will likely regret any attempt).

    Unknown-
    Sestak’s campaign report shows he already spent $50,000 for the PA Dems voter file/software. So, he’s not getting that back.

  10. I like DD and appreciate his commentary. I don’t always agree with him, but I certainly agree with him that Sestak cannot be our nominee in 2016 unless we want 6 more years of Toomey and a Republican majority in the US Senate.

  11. Down With Diano: kindly refrain from making disparaging remarks about the prescient Mr. Diano. His sage wisdom will become evident soon enough. That sound you hear is a former Admiral soiling his pants…

  12. So is she going to communicate using outright lies like she did to PA Democrats the night before the 2010 Senatorial primary? She has never apologized or even acknowledged what she did; until she does, it will not be forgotten.

  13. David, we are all sick of your opinions and nobody likes you. Go home to your moms basement. Or the next Comic Con. And stop gracing us with your stupid f*cking meaningless statements.

  14. Mary is a fantastic choice – she is respected and on good terms with people on both sides of the aisle. She’s nice but isn’t afraid to knock heads when necessary. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. I have a hard time imagining a better person to roll up her sleeves and get this budget stuff figured out.

  15. Mary is sharp and tough minded. Corman may wish for McGinty back as Mary won’t take his sh*t.

  16. It’s like Captain Smith setting a course straight for the iceberg and all he needed was a new propeller. Congrats, Governor, you’ll be at the bottom of the ocean faster than anyone anticipated with this disastrous choice.

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