ShareThis Page
Isenhour picked to replace McGinty as Wolf’s chief of staff |

Isenhour picked to replace McGinty as Wolf’s chief of staff

Brad Bumsted
| Thursday, July 23, 2015 11:26 a.m
Mary Isenhour

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf’s legislative liaison Mary Isenhour on Thursday became his chief of staff, “a good choice,” a House GOP spokesman said.

“She’ll be good at working though issues and problems. She’ll be a factor” in budget meetings, House spokesman Stephen Miskin said.

Isenhour, a political strategist who ran former Gov. Ed Rendell’s successful 2006 re-election campaign, was an early supporter of Wolf. She was a senior adviser to his campaign last year and co-chaired his inaugural committee.

She replaces Katie McGinty as top aide in the governor’s office. McGinty said she resigned Wednesday “to give serious consideration to a potential U.S. Senate run” in the 2016 Democratic primary.

“In Mary, I think I found someone to continue the strong team dynamic we have,” Wolf said.

“Katie has built a tremendous foundation,” said Isenhour, 56, a Kansas native.

As Wolf’s legislative liaison, Isenhour’s salary was $145,018. It wasn’t clear whether she’ll be paid the $168,001 that McGinty made as chief.

Wolf is engaged in a testy battle with a Republican-controlled Legislature. A budget stalemate is in its 24th day since Wolf’s veto of the GOP-drafted 2015-16 spending plan.

The Legislature isn’t expected to return to session until late August.

“For me, it will always be a blessing to have been part of this team,” McGinty said.

McGinty irritated GOP leaders by criticizing a Senate-passed pension bill as providing “lavish payouts” to lawmakers, though Republican senators said it moved re-elected legislators and new members to 401(k)-type plans.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, called McGinty “polarizing.”

“She hasn’t been,” Wolf said. “It’s an unfortunate characterization.”

Corman believes “it will be nice to have her campaign on her own dollars, rather than taxpayers’ dollars,” said his spokeswoman, Jennifer Kocher.

Changing staff likely won’t close the deep ideological divide between conservative Republican leaders and the liberal governor, experts said, on issues such as liquor privatization and pension reform.

“In reality, (McGinty) has not been a factor in any of these (budget) meetings,” Miskin said.

McGinty finished fourth in the Democratic primary for governor last year but was widely credited with running a positive campaign. If she runs for Senate, she will take on Democrat Joe Sestak, a former congressman, in an effort to challenge Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in November.

Isenhour is former director of the House Democratic Campaign Committee and ex-executive director of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. She began her career as a staffer in the Kansas House of Representatives, where she became chief of staff to the Democratic leader.

From 1995 to 1999, Isenhour was national political director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in Washington.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.