McGinty takes aim at Toomey as U.S. Senate race gets off to rowdy start |
Politics Election

McGinty takes aim at Toomey as U.S. Senate race gets off to rowdy start

Tom Fontaine
Katie McGinty, left, exits a polling station with her husband Karl Hausker and daughter Tara after casting her vote Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Wayne.
JC Schisler | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey visits the Tribune-Review's Pittsburgh office to speak with the news staff on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016.

It didn’t take long for things to heat up in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.

About 10 hours after Katie McGinty, 52, claimed a stunning, come-from-behind victory over former congressman Joe Sestak in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, she focused on U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, 54, R-Lehigh Valley, whom she’ll face in November.

“Sen. Toomey is part of a toxic national climate that has given rise to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz,” McGinty’s campaign wrote in a memo released just before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

“It is impossible for Toomey to divorce himself from the top of the ticket given that he’s spent months vowing to support the (Republican) nominee, and (he) cast his own primary ballot for Ted Cruz,” McGinty’s campaign said in the memo that described Toomey as an “ultra-conservative” who works to serve the special interests of Wall Street and big corporations.

Less than a half-hour later, Toomey’s campaign issued its own memo about the Chester County Democrat.

“Katie McGinty is a machine politician who made her way through the revolving door of government jobs, lobbying jobs and high-paying corporate gigs. Her far-left positions are out-of-touch with hard-working Pennsylvanians, and her record is tinged by high-profile ethics problems,” Toomey’s campaign said.

G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Politics and Publics Affairs, said he predicts the race will be one of the most “watched, observed and invested-in campaigns” nationally.

Several national political news outlets have placed it among the nation’s top five Senate races to watch.

Madonna said he expects the race to shatter the Pennsylvania record set four years ago for campaign spending in a Senate race. That year, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Republican Tom Smith spent a combined $35.5 million. Outside groups spent millions of dollars more.

“Money will not be a problem. The stakes are huge in this one,” Madonna said, referring to Republicans’ tenuous grip on the Senate’s majority.

About a month ago, it didn’t look like McGinty would be the Democrat taking on Toomey. She trailed Sestak in Franklin & Marshall’s March poll by 17 percentage points. But a late push, fueled by high-profile endorsements — including from the president — and millions of dollars from campaign contributors and outside groups, propelled McGinty to a 10 percentage-point win.

“We treated every moment as a must-do moment and gave it our all,” McGinty said in a phone interview.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or [email protected].

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