New York — Attorney General Kathleen Kane took a major step toward a 2016 Senate campaign this week when she hired prominent Democratic fundraiser Aubrey Montgomery.
Kane and Montgomery both confirmed the decision at the PoliticsPA Governor Mifflin Society reception during the Pennsylvania Society festivities this weekend. It was made official earlier in the week.
Neither said that Kane was planning a Senate bid, but several sources close to Kane indicated Friday night that it was directly in her sights.
The late night reception followed an day of speculation based on reports – citing several unnamed sources – that Kane was considering a run.
If she decides to challenge Sen. Pat Toomey, Kane will need to retool her fundraising operation. She raised millions of dollars in her 2012 bid for AG but much of the money came in the form of large checks from friends and family. A federal campaign requires a longer list of donors who are limited to contributing smaller checks.
Toomey, who is seeking re-election, has $3.6 million on hand.
Joe Sestak, the former admiral, former Congressman and 2010 Senate candidate is actively preparing for a rematch in 2016. He has $900,000 on hand.
“I would love to see the primary between Kathleen Kane and Joe Sestak,” said one Republican operative Friday night.
Congressman Matt Cartwright and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro are other potential Democratic opponents for Toomey.
It’s the second year in a row that a politician set off a flurry of political chatter by hiring Montgomery.
In December 2012, news that Allyson Schwartz had brought Montgomery on started the speculation that the Congresswoman was planning a bid for Governor. That speculation was ultimately borne out, although Schwartz might originally have made the hire to prepare for her own 2016 effort.
Montgomery served as Finance Director for Schwartz until October, when she was removed by the campaign. Schwartz’s campaign characterized the move as a simple reshuffle, while others said it indicated fundraising problems.
She subsequently formed her own consulting group, Rittenhouse Political Partners, and signed on Kane as a client.
Montgomery is the former Finance Director for the Pa. Democratic Party and is credited to a significant degree for their success in that sphere in 2012. She made PoliticsPA’s list of 30 Under 30 two cycles in a row.