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EXCLUSIVE: PA-Sen: McGinty Visits DSCC Retreat

Kathleen-McGintyThis weekend the DSCC held a retreat at Martha’s Vineyard. Dozens of Senators and Senate candidates were there. So was Katie McGinty.

PoliticsPA has learned she flew to the event on a chartered flight with over fifteen Senators. We were also able to confirm with McGinty’s top political strategist Mike Mikus that she left on Friday night and returned Sunday. Additionally, she will be paying for the trip out of her own funds.

McGinty, Governor Wolf’s Chief of Staff, has been rumored to be a potential 2016 candidate for quite some time. Those rumors intensified after Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski dropped out of the race after the FBI raided his office.

Already, grassroots efforts have sprung up in support of her possible candidacy.

A former Clinton White House official, McGinty was DEP Secretary during the Rendell Administration before running for Governor herself last year and finishing fourth.

Former Congressman and 2010 nominee Joe Sestak has been running since losing to Sen. Toomey by two points four and a half years ago. National Democrats, though, have always had problems with Sestak.

It started when he took on their favored choice, Republican turned Democratic Senator Arlen Specter, and extends to his attitude, fundraising and campaign tactics.

Recently, it appeared Sestak and Democratic Leader Harry Reid had made peace, but that effort may have fallen through.

Of course, currently Gov. Wolf is working on the budget impasse. It’s unclear what impact this stalemate will have on her ultimate decision.

We were told that while McGinty has yet to make a decision, it will come soon.

UPDATE: According to Laura Olson of the Morning Call, Sestak was invited to the retreat but declined.

“Admiral Sestak was invited by the DSCC to Martha’s Vineyard, but spent the weekend meeting Pennsylvanians at events from Elk County to Bucks County,” spokeswoman Danielle Lynch stated.

UPDATE 2: Melissa Daniels of the Tribune-Review recorded Gov. Wolf’s reaction to today’s news.

“A number of people are trying to convince her to run,” Wolf said. “I don’t know what her decision is going to be. We’ve both agreed we can’t let this be a distraction.”

36 Responses

  1. I don’t think I have the power to undermine the Democratic Party, but believe me, if I could I would. It has become a corrupt and wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, the national security state, and war profiteers. It needs to be dismantled and re-built to reflect the progressive ideals of its rank and file. I see little difference between today’s Democratic Party and the Republican Party. We need to replace Democrats who acknowledge that their constituent mail was running better than 100 to 1 against TPP and yet voted for fast-track authority. Real Democrats deserve better.
    I see Hillary Clinton has indicated that she sees no reason to resurrect Glass-Steagall, and is on the fence on the Iran treaty (until she can figure out what the focus groups say, no doubt). We need people like Bernie Sanders, not bought-and-paid-for phony politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

  2. Jerry

    You are exactly the kind of fool who undermines the Dems and helps the Republicans keep power.

    No wonder you like a fake Dem like Sestak, and fail to understand the most basic democratic party strategy or make an intelligent choice for president.

  3. You give Obama far more credit for Constitutional restraint and aversion to torture than I do. He was far worse on many issues than Bush was, and he invoked the draconian Espionage Act more often than all previous Presidents combined. His obsession with secrecy mad a mockery of his claims that his would be the most transparent administration ever. Almost all his appointments were totally owned by Wall Street or other special interests. The TPP borders on criminal. I had lots of reasons for not supporting him, and I have never regretted not voting him in 2012, and by the way, the Affordable Care Act is little more but a bailout of the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies. It forces people to buy insurance with huge deductibles and co-pays and still forcing them to pay all their medical bills out-of-pocket. Having insurance is not the same as having access to health care, and being underinsured is not much different from being uninsured. You won’t want to hear this, but in my opinion Obama is a disgrace, and I personally do not believe he is either progressive or even a Democrat. I am proud I refused to vote for him a second time. I make no apologies for it, and I would do it again.

  4. Jerry Policoff-

    While I’m not a fan of the drone program, it’s ridiculous to use as a “deciding factor” because the Republican candidate is going to do drone strikes as well (and with far less oversight and far more recklessness than Obama or Clinton would). The Republicans are staunchly against whistle-blower protections, so you have much better chance of them under a Dem. Obama was against the CIA torture program, the Republicans want more torture.

    So, you stood by “principles” that were completely illogical and in a way that was worse for the cause you claim to support. Duh.

    No wonder you lost.

    As for the other candidates, I’d need more information than just the numbers you quoted. I don’t know what the “message” was, nor how the Republican ran his campaign, or if there was a special issue/vote, or how the candidates did in debate and fundraising.

    But, I do know that running away from the ticket is the wrong strategy.

    This is especially true with someone like Wolf who had a double-digit lead over Corbett and needed the best legislature he could get. And, it was true for Sestak when he was dominating the GOP in the 7th district and screwed the down-ticket candidates. Both tried to claim the title of “party leaders” and both failed miserably at that stated goal.

  5. David, I got 34% of the vote which was equal to Democrats percentage of registered voters while Republican turnout was 10 points higher than Democratic turnout. I got more votes than any other county Democratic candidate for the Legislature, including 1,008 more votes than Mike Sturla who represents Lancaster City, and whose district includes 12,000+ more registered Democrats than PA-41. I am very proud of how well I did, even though I agree that it would have been very difficult for me to win, especially in that Republican tsunami year.
    I was not able to support Obama or Clinton because I think the drone program amounts to murder, and the war on whistleblowers via the Espionage Act amounts to an assault on the Constitution. There are other reasons, but those were two big ones. I had issues with Sestak, but we got to know each other and were able to establish a dialogue. I originally supported him primarily because Specter is another of those so-called “Democrats” I could never vote for. After the election I was inundated by warm messages from people who thanked me for standing by my principles throughout the campaign and never compromising those principles. I was very gratified by that. It stands in stark contrast to what one high-ranking official of the County Democrats once suggested: that I should hold Obama to a lesser standard than I held Geroge Bush to because Obama is a Democrat.

  6. Jerry-

    When you are in a hole, you just like to keep digging. You are making my point for me about how bad Sestak is and how clueless you are.

    1) The party gave you the correct advice on promoting the whole ticket.

    2) Onorato was fairly conservative, not a progressive. Your votes for him, and support for Sestak, but not supporting Obama or Hillary belies your claims of being progressive.

    3) At the St. Leg level, door knocking can be quite effective, though rural counties are a lot less walkable than urban/suburban districts.

    4) You lost 2-1, so it’s unlikely any strategy would have gotten you elected. Good, thing for you that you’d “rather lose”.

    5) What kind of “support” did you get from Sestak? Unless he printed lit (sample ballot) with your name on it, you really didn’t get any support.

    6) You fail to understand the benefits of a Dem majority, even if you don’t like specific Dem candidates. The majority controls the legislative agenda. That’s how the PA GOP keeps popular legislation that they don’t like from getting voted on.

    You are a perfect example of why Sestak’s candidacy is bad for the party.

  7. I can tell you from direct knowledge, David, that in 2010 every Democratic candidate in Lancaster County who asked for Joe’s support got it, myself included, even though we disagreed on some important issues (like single-payer healthcare) and both said so.
    I reluctantly voted for Onorato that year, but I refused to publicly endorse him or seek his endorsement or share my campaign literature with him, and I was delighted to get 600 more votes than he did in PA-41. I also publicly announced that I could not vote for Bob Casey or Barack Obama in 2012. I also rejected in 2010 advice from the County Democratic Committee that I scrub my progressive positions from my web site and relegate myself to simply knocking on doors and asking voters to vote a straight Democratic ticket. In response to their suggestion that this was the only way I could possibly win I responded that if this the only way to win I’d rather lose. I also stated that the day the Democrats grow a set of balls is the day they will start to win elections. Putting a “D” in front of your name while selling out to special interests and the embedded machine does not entitle you to my support or my vote. I never vote Republican, but more and more these days I find myself rejecting “Democrats.” The latest candidate I have publicly stated I will not support or vote for is Hillary Clinton.

  8. Jerry-

    Your post shows just how foolish you are and why you’re supporting Sestak for all the wrong reasons.

    First of all, the appeasement strategy was the Wolf team strategy. I not only spoke to candidates who complained that Wolf abandoned them, but also to political consultants on the Wolf side of the campaign who had unsuccessfully opposed the short-sighted strategy.

    Wolf won because he got his name out in Feb with good/appealing commercials. Money.

    He completely failed to connect-the-dots of Corbett’s failed policies with the GOP legislators who voted for them, and ask voters to give him Democratic legislators who shared his vision.

    As a result, he screwed himself and is suffering the ramifications with his attempts to get a good budget passed.

    Sestak is self-serving as well, with NO interest in the rest of the ticket. His 2006 field director told me: “F*ck the other candidates. I don’t care if they all lose. Joe is the only one that matters.” This has remained the core Sestak strategy.

    Other than Lentz’s state rep win, there were no down-ticket gains by the Dems under Sestak (and Lentz won on his own, despite Sestak). Much of the reason is that “team” Sestak encouraged Republicans who liked him to split their tickets for him and against the other Dems, because he wasn’t really with those St. Leg Dems and wouldn’t vote for them either.

    The proper/decent strategy would have been to encourage voters that liked him to support the rest of the Dem ticket, which believed in the values that Sestak only pretended to have.

  9. David Diano says “Wolf… was wrong to… [abandon] state rep candidates in 2014,” calling it an “asinine appeasement strategy.”
    Wrong again David. Wolf clearly sensed that the voters were fed up with machine politics and decided to distance himself from the Democrat machine. That is why he won and won big. Sestak sees it the same way, and that is why no candidate recruited by the machine to oppose him in the primary will be able to beat him, and it why Sestak will go on to defeat Toomey even if the Democrats refuse to help him win. You have no idea how many independents and progressive Democrats will not vote for any candidate that has the active backing of people like Brady, Rooney, and even Rendell. Such people won’t vote for McGinty even if they like her and her politics.

  10. So the PA Dems initially supported a candidate that was forced to suspend his campaign amid a federal probe? Now they want someone that came in fourth in the gubernatorial primary with 7% of the vote? What planet is this? Why is McGinty a better candidate than Sestak AND why do we put stock in the decisions of the PA Dems? I think the better move would be to support the candidate that represents the antithesis of their design. Pen me in for Sestak, at least Sestak and his staff work hard for the constituents they serve. He might be weird, but so is McGinty.

  11. ” According to Laura Olson of the Morning Call, Sestak was invited to the retreat but declined.”

    I bet if you remove the word “the”, then “Sestak was invited to retreat” is more accurate.

    Any invitation would more likely be an “intervention” of concerned Dems suggesting that Sestak seek psychological help.

  12. Lots of opinions on Sestak and McGinty . The facts are Toomey has to go no matter who runs against him. He is a liar . He constantly talks about needs of veterans . He has voted against EVERY VETERANS BILL that has been voted on in the Senate since he was elected. He talks the talk of a moderate but ALWAYS VOTES AS A CARD CARING KOCH BROTHERS DISCIPLE. Pennsylvania deserves better.

  13. PhD/Professor-

    Wolf does have his hands full now, but once the budget is done, he’ll have time to help McGinty.

    If he a f*cking brain cell in his head, he will have learned that his deliberate appeasement strategy of last cycle was a complete fiasco that saddled him with a bigger GOP majority.

    Any political consultant that didn’t fight him on that strategy should be fired banned from PA politics in 2016. Wolf needs to get off his @ss and help the Dems find candidates and fight tooth and nail for every legislative seat. He should go after every GOP candidate that voted for this sh*tty budget (and whatever crap they try to pass next summer), and be in ads with Dem challengers.

    Wolf was right to veto the GOP budget, but he was wrong to have put himself in this position by abandoning the state rep candidates in 2014 with the asinine appeasement strategy. Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten the Dems the majority, but he’d be dealing with a more manageable legislature, where he’d need only a few moderate R’s to tip the scales

  14. Mr. Diano, it is devastating for any statewide Democrat to have Republican opposition somehow win the coveted backing of Dougherty and the election day operation and money that comes with it. Winning that for a Republican in PA is akin to a Democrat winning Ohio in the presidential price, i.e., it equals victory. Every Republican who has cut a deal with the Dems in the general for the Philly operation has won handily. A cursory review of election results bears this out.

    As for the notion that Governor Wolfe would somehow be the difference maker for McGinty either in a primary or general, that is misguided too. Wolf has his hands completely full in Harrisburg dealing with a stubborn Republican legislature. His fundraising right now is consumed with a quasi-campaign on the budget. He is spending a large sum of money on this campaign for his budget priorities. Wolf will be of no help for McGinty.


    The Professor

  15. Love Katie McGinty and I hope she runs! She has my vote. I am a die hard Democrat, but if Sestek wins the Primary, he does not have my vote. Sestek does not even live in Pennsylvania – how can he run and be a credible candidate? He shows up a political functions without being invited and tries to run the show. Run Katie run!!!!!

  16. Deep throat-

    The street money is Philly has worthless for most outcomes. Wolf refused to pay/play and he won by more than the total Philly turnout.

    The DEM primary winner, not Toomey, will be on the sample ballots at the polls on election day 2016. Philly turnout will be high because of presidential year, and not due to any effort by the Philly machine.

    Anyone giving street money should not be shocked if their opponents are also solicited for street money, and neither winds up with any return on investment.

    The first time I met Sestak, he was unequivocal in his definition of marriage is between one man and one woman. By, the time he met you, you’d think he’d at least go with the gender neutral “spouse” if he wasn’t sure.

    Sestak is like that book where the author says he learned every thing he needed in kindergarten. Only in Sestak’s case it’s the Navy, and less than you’d expect from a kid in kindergarten in terms of sharing, cooperation and ability to control temper tantrums.

    The Navy of Sestak’s era was the kind that thought only two things came from Texas, and one of them was steers.

    Sestak went to Catholic school and then into the military during the Nixon administration. There is no chance he voted against Reagan. Joe is a Republican, posing as a Democrat. He’s not a “maverick”, but rather an imposter.

    If he doesn’t even believe the stuff he is saying, why should we expect the voters to?

    There are more than a few complaints about McGinty’s ability in administration. But, none of them would matter in the role of a senator. As a candidate, she was in a tough field. Wolf bought his name recognition. Schwartz and McCord couldn’t get anywhere with theirs. She really didn’t have a chance.

    Now, she’s got Wolf to back her and help fundraising.

  17. IM sorry katie, but i agree with spare us,politics is not your thing.continue to live off the government.

  18. Don’t shoot the messenger, but…Johnny Doc is backing Toomey no matter who his opponent is. Street money will be in place for Toomey in Philly.

  19. Katie has been, is and will continue to be a left wing light weight Loser.
    She finished last for a reason- she comes across poorly and would be a weak candidate against Sestak or Toomey. We don’t need a Gore clone- better Joe or Pat than another liberal lightweight. Keep Katie in Harrisburg!

  20. Toomeyd –

    1) I doubt Sestak was invited, Joe and his campaign have lied in the past. Remember the whole “Obama offered me a job as Secretary of the Navy” lie.

    2) This election is about defeating Toomey and the Republican majority and unfortunately that requires $$$$$ which Sestak and his campaign DON’T HAVE. Unfortunately those “big wigs” as you call them are needed to fundraise a winning campaign against the Republican money machine.

    If you want to reelect Toomey vote Sestak in the primary. If you want to defeat Toomey and elect a Democratic majority in the US Senate then vote McGinty!

  21. Sestak was invited to kowtow to party big wigs but decided to talk to grassroots Democrats instead. Given the recent record of the party leadership in legislative elections, it sounds like Joe made the right choice.

  22. @David Diano, speaking of LGBT, Sestak insisted on calling my gay partner “wife” because “husband and husband doesn’t sound right.” I don’t think he was being a bigot. He literally just thought it gay couples were called husband and wife. Talk about out of touch.

  23. Timothy

    This is not shocking. When Sestak first started, he would say LGBT in random order.

    Sestak does string his facts together, without any coherent narrative.

  24. Hey “Priorities” – She did this over a weekend. Is she not allowed to have a few days to herself? What was the GOP controlled legislature doing over the weekend?

  25. @David Diano — although he memorizes the talking points, but when he goes to say them on radio, he butchers them and flubs all the facts. At the York Dems event I overheard him say to his aide that he forgot the percentage, so he made it up. The aide responded, that sounds about right.

  26. The time to rally around a unifying candidate to defeat Pat Toomey and the Republican majority is NOW! That candidate is Katie McGinty!

    Follow us on twitter @DraftMcGinty

    Learn more about Katie:

    Katie McGinty is a recognized leader in environmental protection, business investment, job growth, and energy innovation. With more than twenty-five years of experience in public service and the private sector, Katie knows how to solve big problems at the highest levels, and she knows how to fight for working families. In Katie, Democrats throughout Pennsylvania have an energetic and compassionate voice to fight for middle class families.

    Katie was born in northeast Philadelphia the ninth of ten kids to a police officer and a hostess. After attending college and law school on scholarships, she worked her way up within the Clinton Administration, eventually serving as a trusted advisor to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore as the first woman to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Later, she served our state and Governor Ed Rendell as the first female Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. Since 2008, Katie has been working in the private sector helping to drive sustainable business development.

    Katie, her husband Karl, and their three daughters live in Wayne, Chester County.

  27. Bruce-

    No. It’s by wanting to put in a candidate they think can work with the party and win.

    There is a LOT of doubt that Sestak can beat Toomey. The narrow margin of the last race is not a convincing indicator that Sestak would do better this time around. Toomey has even more money, and incumbency (which is HUGE advantage). If the election is a referendum on Toomey, then Sestak as no chance, as Toomey has very smartly/carefully managed to paint himself as more moderate than he actually is. If you look at the statements coming from the GOP presidential candidates, Toomey appears far to the left of them (because the scale is so distorted and Toomey is smart to keep his mouth shut).

    Sestak is just too boring (and often creepy) to make a dent. The party wants/needs someone younger/fresher who can serve more than one term if elected. (Sestak would be a one-term Senator, if he could even be elected.)

    With Hillary at top of ticket, and strong female turnout, a candidate like McGinty makes sense “on paper”.

    Can she fundraise enough? She’s have Wolf’s vocal support. (I doubt he would campaign for Sestak.) Can she find the right message that resonates with voters? Can she capture the middle from Toomey?

    These are open questions.

    Sestak’s fundraising has been anemic. He doesn’t resonate with voters (even within the Dems). He’s the opposite of authentic, as he just parrots memorized Dem talking points. Sestak just looks bad side-by-side with Toomey. And for voters who make their pick on looks in a debate, Sestak has a lot of trouble.

  28. Good thing there’s not a budget stalemate. I suppose Katie has all the time in the world to devote to looking for another job instead of doing the job she already has.

  29. This is how Dems win a race by trying to defeat other Dems that don’t toe their line?

  30. Whew! Looks like I won’t be forced to vote for Sestak in the primary after all. Thank god there’s an alternative.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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