National Democrats back McGinty for U.S. Senate

    Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Katie McGinty talks with Dave Davies at WHYY. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Katie McGinty talks with Dave Davies at WHYY. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    The national Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has chosen a favorite in the primary battle for Pennsylvania’s U.S.  Senate seat.

    The national group is backing former Pennsylvania Environmental Secretary Katie McGinty over former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and Braddock, Pennsylvania, Mayor John Fetterman.

    It’s a little unusual, though not unheard of, for the national party to take sides in a primary.

    A spokeswoman for the DSCC cited three other Senate races this year in which the committee is backing a primary candidate.

    The committee praised McGinty in a statement that said nothing about her rivals.

    But it’s widely understood that many state and party leaders  have an antipathy for Sestak, who’s known for rejecting advice and going his own way.

    They still blame Sestak for running against U.S. Senator Arlen Specter in 2010 after  Specter had switched parties and become a Democrat. Sestak beat Specter then lost to Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey in the general election.

    Does the endorsement matter? Democratic strategist Mark Nevins says it’s worth something to get the nod from on high.

    “It’s good to have the official imprimatur of the party,” he said, “and for donors who are on the fence, it sends a signal that you’re their chosen candidate.”

    On the other hand, Nevins said, this is the year of the angry voter.

    “In this election cycle, I’m not sure if it’s as valuable as it has been in previous elections,” he said.

    In a statement, Sestak said, “I trust that the people are going to be able to distinguish true leaders for them from mere power holders. The people know that there are no more kings and no more kingmakers.”

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