McGinty picks up union nod in Pa. Senate primary

     U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty (right) with Gabe Morgan, Pennsylvania Director of the union SEIU 32BJ (Newsworks photo/Dave Davies)

    U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty (right) with Gabe Morgan, Pennsylvania Director of the union SEIU 32BJ (Newsworks photo/Dave Davies)

    Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty has picked up a major labor endorsement from the 60,000-member Service Employees International Union in Pennsylvania.


    McGinty is a former Pennsylvania environmental secretary who’s gotten plenty of endorsements from establishment Democrats, so the union nod is in some respects no surprise.

    But it’s helpful.

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    At a morning news conference in Center City Philadelphia, Neal Bisno, president of SEIU Health Care Pennsylvania said  McGinty stood with fast food workers and airport employees struggling for better wages, and the union is with her.

    “We’re going to do everything it takes. We’re going to knock on doors. We’re going to talk to our co-workers. We’re going to make a whole lot of phone calls and emails and Facebook posts,” Bisno said. “When we’re all in, we’re all in.”

    Former Congressman Joe Sestak and Braddock Pennsylvania mayor John Fetterman are battling McGinty in the April 26th Democratic primary.

    The union represents custodial and health care workers, and is active in progressive causes.  Bisno said McGinty’s pledged to lead the fight for national $15 minimum wage and has stood strong for worker protections.

    I asked Bisno why the union didn’t consider endorsing Fetterman, who’s made economic inequality the centerpiece of his campaign and has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.

    “Both the other candidates in this race are good men,” Bisno said, but he said McGingy has been “a proven leader.”

    “She’s been that throughout her career,”  Bisno said. “We workd closely with her in Governor Wolf’s administration [she was Wolf’s chief of staff] and in other settings.” He also said the union wanted someone “who can work with other folks. She’s a fighter, but she’s also a consensus builder.”

    Bisno didn’t say it, but the reference to working with others evokes the central criticism of the other candidate in the race, former Delaware County Congressman and former admiral Joe Sestak. Many Democratic leaders regard Sestak as a maverick, and resent his running against the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic primary.

    Most leading Democrats endorsed Specter (who had recently left the Republican party) over Sestak. Sestak prevailed, but lost the seat to Republican Pat Toomey.

    I reached out to the Sestak team, and campaign manager Jake Sternberger said “Joe has asked noone for endorsements. He’s out campaigning for the people.” And he said I could quote Sestak as saying, “They may have the big names. I have mine.”

    The winner of the April 26th Democratic primary takes Toomey on in the general election.

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