Democratic Endorsements Pile Up for Losing Candidate in Pennsylvania Senate Primary

Obama, Biden latest to endorse Katie McGinty, who still trails Joe Sestak

Katie McGinty
Katie McGinty / AP
March 30, 2016

Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the latest heavyweights to get behind Pennsylvania Senate hopeful Katie McGinty, who despite receiving early support from Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and major party organs, is still trailing the Democratic establishment’s worst nightmare: Joe Sestak.

The White House endorsement came on Wednesday morning, with Obama stating that he is "proud to endorse Katie McGinty to be Pennsylvania’s next United States senator" and McGinty pledging to "work every day to build on the progress that the Obama administration has made."

"Katie is a true champion for working families, with a proven record of taking on big challenges and delivering for people," Obama said.

McGinty has had no problem rallying the Democratic establishment behind her cause. Reid declared last year that McGinty would win the nomination and complained about her competitors in the race.

She has also secured the support of current Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, his predecessor Ed Rendell, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

However, McGinty has failed to convince Pennsylvanians to support her over Sestak.

The Morning Consult’s Reid Wilson points out that recent polling has Sestak leading McGinty by a wide margin of 31 percent to 14 percent, a gap that has increased from polls conducted earlier this year.

Democrats fear that nominating Sestak, who lost to Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) in 2010, would throw away the party’s chance to gain control of the Senate in 2016.

T.J. Rooney, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party during Sestak’s 2010 run, told the National Journal early last year that Democrats will lose if Sestak is the nominee.

"In my estimation, if Joe Sestak is the nominee in 2016 for U.S. Senate, we will once again lose to Pat Toomey," Rooney said last February.

Rendell, who has signed on as McGinty’s campaign chairman, voiced his opposition to Sestak before McGinty announced she would run, saying in April that Sestak "doesn’t fit the modern-day view of a candidate."

Daily Kos wrote that Sestak has a "reputation as a man with a nasty temper who was almost impossible to work for." NBC’s Luke Russert has noticed the same thing, saying that Democratic operatives "hate him" and "think he’s awful."

Sestak did not have party establishment support when he ran in 2010, either. Obama threw his support behind Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter in his primary battle with Sestak.

"[Specter] came to fight for the working men and women of Pennsylvania," Obama said. "That's why you should send him back for another six years, because you know he's going to fight for you."

The McGinty campaign has stepped up its campaign in the past month, hitting the airwaves with television ads for the first time to convince the state’s many undecided voters to push her toward victory in next month’s primary.