Who Could Replace McGinty as Chief of Staff?

Silhouette-question-markAs Katie McGinty contemplates a Senate run, it’s worth remembering that her candidacy would spark a major change in Governor’s Wolf office.

If McGinty were to leave to jump into the Senate race, Gov. Wolf would be left without one of his most trusted advisors.

The two briefly served together in Ed Rendell’s cabinet in 2008 (McGinty was DEP Secretary, Wolf the Revenue Secretary) but didn’t really get to know each other until the 2014 campaign.

Both were striving for the same prize but there was an obvious rapport between them. McGinty was the only candidate who didn’t seek to attack and try to tear down the early front-runner and Wolf seemed to respect her efforts.

He tried to install her as party chair, but when Jim Burn refused to step down Wolf instead chose McGinty to lead FreshStartPA, his own organization.

By the time the campaign was over, McGinty was the obvious choice for Chief of Staff.

Now, however, should she decide to seek higher office, she will leave the Governor in a lurch. We’re currently at Day 17 in the budget standoff and there is no end in sight.

Therefore, the Governor will need a successor in place. In fact, it’s likely he is already considering who he would want to take the second toughest job in the commonwealth.

We’ve prepared a list of possible candidates who could become Wolf’s next Chief of Staff (presented in alphabetical order):

Steve Crawford – Crawford would have one major advantage, he’s already done the job. He served as Gov. Rendell’s Chief of Staff from 2009 to 2011. Perhaps more importantly, he was Secretary of Legislative Affairs from 2003 to 2009. Crawford has already been through budget fights, although the legislative leadership has changed quite a bit since then. It will also likely be difficult to convince him to give up lobbying and take up this burdensome position.

John Hanger – Hanger has already succeeded Katie McGinty once when he took over as Rendell’s DEP Secretary in 2008. Hanger also ran for Governor last year though he dropped out in March. After endorsing Wolf a few weeks before the primary, he was named Secretary of Planning and Policy. His best advantage may be that, like McGinty, he has been both policy expert and politician.

Mary Isenhour – Loyalty is an integral attribute for any job, especially Chief of Staff, and Isenhour has been with Wolf since the 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 currently serves as the Governor’s Secretary of Legislative Affairs. If Wolf wants continuity instead of change, and since he’s in the middle of a budget standoff it’s likely he would, this pick makes sense.

Ken Jarin – Jarin, on the other hand, would be an outside the box selection. A partner at Ballard Spahr, he doesn’t bring much experience as a government employee to the table but he does bring a lot of party connections. Jarin is a major party fundraiser and he helped McGinty last year in the Governor’s race. If the Governor wants to reach out to his party, he could turn to someone like Jarin.

Tony Lepore – Chief of Staff is a complex job but one way to make it easier is to chose someone who already has some experience. Lepore is at this moment Chief of Staff for the entire Senate Democratic Caucus. So he has the skills to deal with many subjects at once and also has deep connections among the legislators. His role in the turnpike episode a couple of years ago, though, may hold him back.

Joe Shafer – Sometimes simplest is the best, especially when you have to make a quick transition. Shafer was Wolf’s Campaign Manager and already serves as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff. While in the midst of a budget standoff, it would likely be easiest just to move Shafer up a rung on the ladder and figure out the rest later. This avenue is also open to Wolf’s other Deputy Chief of Staff (and Public Liaison Director) Obra Kernodle. Kernodle was the Gov’s Deputy Campaign Manager and would be the logical choice if Shafer prefers to stay in his current position.

David Sweet – Sweet has a deep well of experience in government going back decades. He also took a position in the Governor’s cabinet as a Special Assistant, where he advises on energy and manufacturing issues. Therefore, you wouldn’t need to convince Sweet to move out of the profitable private sector back into the public sector, he’s already there. The current budget situation may call for an experienced hand as Chief of Staff.

These, of course, are only a few of the potential possibilities and McGinty could ultimately decide to stay right where she is. If throws her hat into the Senate ring, however, the Governor will have to quickly chose who he wants battling beside him during his first big fight in Harrisburg.

51 Responses

  1. John Lisko would be a great choice. He graciously guided McCord as COS and succeeded in making Treasury a functional organization.

  2. Robert-
    The issue of McGinty vs Sestak has been discussed in other “pivotal” threads. Stop being an @ss by trying to hijack the thread by going off topic. This thread is about who could/should/would/might replace McGinty.

    Please reread the first few paragraphs:
    “As Katie McGinty contemplates a Senate run, it’s worth remembering that her candidacy would spark a major change in Governor’s Wolf office.
    If McGinty were to leave to jump into the Senate race, Gov. Wolf would be left without one of his most trusted advisors.”

  3. @ DD:

    You are dense, clearly by design.

    When it is written that “The thread is about who is a good pick to replace her **IF** she leaves,” the key-trigger for her departure would be to compete with Sestak.

    You sidestepped that pivotal thread.

  4. See my post from Friday when I informed –not predicted– that it’s Hanger.

  5. Robert-

    The thread is about who is a good pick to replace her **IF** she leaves. Sestak has nothing to do with it. (Though “Unknown” humorously suggested Sestak.)

    You should really invest in a “posting” tutor or advisor to let you know when your posts are irrelevant, so you don’t embarrass yourself further.

  6. @ DD:

    Noting support for Sestak, pondering a McGinty candidacy was potentially of-interest; the rest of the posting is tangential, reflecting the well-established anti-Semitism evinced over recent months, episodically.

  7. Skarloff-

    There’s nothing for me to comment on. I don’t enough of the people on the list to make comparisons.

    You, on the other hand, prefer to comment when you know nothing (or more frequently, less than nothing).

    So, your sudden appearance indicates the lack of any new or relevant information.

  8. The deafening silence from DDiano, when interrupted, will become determinative.

  9. Cassandra Coleman from Wolf’s NEPA outpost would be a solid pick. She was also one of the Gov’s Deputy Campaign managers. Word is she has unmatched work ethic and really is a kingpin in the most important area in the state. NEPA and Coleman’s connections will be essential for Wolf’s reelect in 3 years!

  10. @jkr Chris Craig is at Lt Gov Stacks office. The Wolf admin will pick another has been never gonna be hack from Montco. Ken Jarin hahahaha.

  11. I heard Dave Thomas is restless over with the Senate Rs bec Drew runs the show. Would be a masterstroke.

  12. Since this conversation clearly has hit new lows. Why not Todd Eauches or I’ve heard Bill Deweese is looking for work.

  13. Dougie Rohanna.

    Teach me how me to Dougie!

  14. This whole McGinty for senate thing baffles me. Do the Dems seriously think they can win with her? Hilarious

  15. Shafer, Sweet, and Crawford all would be great choices. Isenhour would make a great Chief of Staff, but might be more effective in her current position. I really like Jaymes’s suggestion of Laura Kuller. I think she could bridge some gaps with the legislature.

  16. I heard Bill George is leveraging to get his daughter, Renee, named as either Chief of Staff or Director of Leg of Isenhour become Chief.

  17. Anyone who would seriously suggest David Tyler has no clue. I would hope if Wolf is considering him he talks to Renee Martin first but then again it’s not like Wolf has been making good staff decisions.

  18. Someone more competent than McGinty,lets hope. If she’s the one advising Wolf on his strategy to get a budget, she’s a moron.

  19. Larry, although I agree PGCB is pretty plum, Greg’s salary as a commissioner is $23,000 less than McGinty’s salary. You hit the nail on the head with David Tyler. But Laura Kuller is bright, hard working and gets along with both sides of the aisle. Wolf needs actual legislative experience (as a senior legislator or senior staffer) because his senior staff is completely void of it.

  20. These comments are hilarious. Greg Faijt? He’s already been granted the ultimate political favor of an appointment to the Gaming Control Board. Why would he take the pay cut?

    David Tyler? Dave is getting paid huge dollars by the ambulance chasers, and he’s really never been about the work. He just likes schmoozing.

    Laura Kuller? A lobbyist? Well, anybody’s better than Governor McGinty and poor socially challenged John Hanger.

  21. Pat Brier and David Tyler, the quintessential Nepa hack and a Kane reject. Stick to the Steve Crawford and Greg Fajt type folks and leave the clown car back in the lot.

  22. David Tyler,formally of the AG’s Office,could slide right in and fill this void nicely?

  23. Interesting group of candidates. This is his most important budget, so he should opt for someone who has been through the war and survived. That is why Crawford and Sweet would be at the top of any list. But I hear Mike Vereb is a dark horse and can speak to at least half the GOP Caucus.

  24. If Pawlowski doesn’t have the time, this would be the perfect fit for Alan Kennedy-Shaffer.

  25. I’ve heard that former field operative Brendan Murray was contacted for the position.

  26. Word from inside the administration is that Harvard grad Ben Zhang has been being groomed for COS since the general election.

  27. He needs some one who knows how things work. McGinty doesn’t and neither does Hanger. We’ve seen the train wreck that Sheridan is as press secretary, so I’d rule out campaign staff. Running a campaign and governing are two entirely different things, one has to look no further than Obama’s 6 years and Wolfs first 6 months to see that. I think Jarin would be a good pick, but the top of the list should be Crawford. He has the skills and the relationships needed and unlike the rest of the Wolf staff, he’s not a partisan hack, he’s a mechanic, someone who gets things done. As for Hanger, fire him.

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