on Sat, Sep 17, 2016 at 8:47 AM
Young Pittsburgh voters, meet Katie McGinty. Polls have shown that young people are the least familiar age group with the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, but when the Millennial-adored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the Wiegand gym on the Carnegie Mellon University campus today, about 400 college-aged people were in attendance to hear McGinty speak.
"I need you to deliver some big victories in 53 days," said McGinty to the crowd. "Can I count on you?"
McGinty spoke about her support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how that contrasts with her opponent Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who said he would like to see it dismantled. "We should not defund the financial watchdog, we should dethrone Pat Toomey," she said.
Attention in the crowd seem to wane a bit during McGinty's speech, but picked back up again when McGinty spoke about dignity in the workforce. "People don't want much, maybe a vacation at the beach once a year, and people deserve that," said McGinty. "They deserve dignity and we should go to bat for them."
But the biggest cheers occurred when Sanders took the stage. "The control of the U.S. Senate and our progressive agenda may rest on the result of this vote," said Sanders. "We need to vote for Katie McGinty."
Sanders outlined a similar agenda to what he had laid out during his campaign for president, including raising the minimum wage, advocating for women's rights, and focusing on the environment. (However fracking was not mentioned, which Sanders opposes and McGinty supports, with regulation.)
Sanders also encouraged the young people in the crowd to get involved in the political system. "Many are throwing up their hands towards the political system, but my suggestion is to get involved," said Sanders. "We are talking about the future of the United States of America."
Toomey derided the McGinty-Sanders collaboration, and said McGintry was moving too far left with the alliance. "Bernie Sanders is an honest-to-goodness, self-described socialist and today, Katie McGinty is showing support for Sanders’ brand of far-left extremism that includes abolishing the CIA, supporting Fidel Castro’s communism, and raising taxes by $15 trillion," said Toomey in a press release.
But Democrats may have had the last laugh with a joke only young people familiar with the online dating site Tinder would get. "When Pat Toomey sees a big Wall Street bank, he swipes right," said Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who introduced McGinty, to a big laugh from the crowd.
Tacos being handed out at "Taco Truck on Every Corner" event in Oakland
Last week, a surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump warned that without Trump's strict immigration policies, the U.S. would experience "a taco truck on every corner." The quote was then widely mocked on social media, with many people saying that an abundance of taco trucks would be a great thing.
And on Sept 8, Pittsburgh added two taco trucks to the corner of Forbes Avenue and Halket Street in Oakland in further defiance. The event was hosted by environmental PAC NextGen Climate PA and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, and was set up to encourage voter registration and inform potential voters on climate-change issues.
"We think of what the future can hold," said NextGen PA spokesperson Aleigha Cavalier. "A future where there is a taco truck on every corner and a future that is conscious of climate change."
The popular Mexican fare was served by Jackie Page Tastes and Vagabond Taco Truck, and dozens of students and construction workers chowed down on the offerings. Passersby were given a free taco if they signed up to commit to vote on climate-change action, and also were encouraged, but not forced, to register to vote.
Fetterman enjoyed a taco as well and spoke to many in attendance. The Pittsburgh Taco Truck served tacos at his campaign-launch event for U.S. Senate last fall and today he said that tacos are a great unifier. (Ironically, the day before the now-infamous taco-truck quote, the Trump campaign unveiled a new "Make Mexico Great Again Also" campaign hat.)
"I don't know anybody in their right mind who doesn't love tacos. Everybody loves tacos," said Fetterman at the event. "Donald Trump is the best surrogate a Democrat ever had. [The comment] really was a gift for Democrats."
Fetterman, who has been campaigning for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former opponent and U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty, emphasized that outlandish comments like the "taco truck" one show him that the decision this November should be for the Dems.
"There really isn't a choice, if one of the choices is Donald Trump," said Fetterman.
Katie McGinty speaks inside the Allegheny County Courthouse
At a press conference on Aug. 31 at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty laid out a plan to help bring manufacturing back to the Keystone State.
“It is a bunch of bull to say that ‘manufacturing is just a part of our past.’ It is part of our future,” she said to a crowd of about 20 supporters.
McGinty says Pennsylvania has lost more than 120,000 jobs to China in the past few years, which only compounds the loss of manufacturing jobs most towns in the state have suffered over the last few decades. Her plan opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and supports the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, that provides assistance to workers who lost jobs due to international trade deals. She also said if elected she would stop tax breaks for companies shifting their workforce overseas, invest in clean energy and infrastructure, and support small-business manufacturing and workforce development.
She rejected the idea that international goods, particularly from China, are what the country should support and said the U.S. can compete with those international markets.
“Manufacturing is not about cheap labor, it’s about skilled labor, technology and speed to market,” said McGinty. “If a product has to travel on a boat from China, we already have them beat.”
She called out Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) ties to the domestic and international finance fields. (Toomey was an investment banker before getting into politics and worked for a Hong Kong financial firm in 1991.) She hinted that these ties show his loyalty to Wall Street and to China's finance industry (although Hong Kong wasn't part of China and was ruled by the United Kingdom when Toomey was there.)
“You may have heard that Pat Toomey actually wrote a book on free trade,” said Fetterman. “And you can actually buy it on Amazon. Copies of it used are selling for a penny, so I don’t recommend paying full price. And that just speaks to the bankrupt ideas; no one is buying it on Amazon and we aren’t buying it here in the Mon Valley.”
Ted Kwong, spokesperson for the Toomey campaign, issued this response to PittsburghCity Paper on McGinty and Fetterman’s claims.
"Even John Fetterman has called out Katie McGinty's fraudulent rhetoric on trade, and her historic middle-class tax hikes would have slammed Pennsylvania families and killed jobs," wrote Kwong. "Pat Toomey has consistently fought against bad trade practices like steel dumping and currency manipulation while working across the aisle to open new markets for Pennsylvania manufacturers and farmers."
The latest poll out of Monmouth University gives McGinty a 45 percent to 41 percent lead over Toomey.
We’ve all seen the incredibly popular hashtags on Twitter, hand-made posters and billboards this political season: #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary. When critics of either nominee post something on social media, these two phrases almost always accompany them. For the most part, they make sense. Voters are making a statement against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ever becoming president.
And given the popularity of these hashtags, they have morphed and been applied to other races on the political ladder, including Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. Tweets criticizing the campaign of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) sometimes have an attached “#NeverToomey” hashtag.
But, Toomey is an incumbent and has been one of the state’s senators for about six years; “never” doesn't really apply. And this phenomenon is not unique to Toomey; #NeverRubio, #NeverAyotte and even #NeverMcCain have been used to reference races involving incumbent senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). (McCain’s hashtag is the oddest, given he has served as Arizona’s senator for almost 20 years and rose to national prominence when he ran for president in 2008.) Maybe it should be #NeverAgain or #Foolmeonceshameonyoufoolmetwiceshameonme.
Even so, these “never” hashtags seem to be growing in popularity among senate races. There have been more than a dozen uses of #NeverToomey and more than 100 uses of #NeverMcCain this month on Twitter. But why, given that these hashtags are logically inaccurate?
A study from the Pew Research Center hints at a possible answer: Social media is the most effective online tool to inform potential voters. According to the study, 24 percent of adults look at social media to find out new information on the campaigns of Clinton and Trump. Only 10 and 9 percent look to campaign websites and emails, respectively.
The “never” hashtags for senate races involving incumbents also overwhelmingly apply to Republicans. Among battleground states, the only incumbent Democrat facing re-election is Michael Bennet of Colorado. As of Aug. 26, there have only been three instances of #NeverBennet on Twitter compared to the thousands that have been applied to Republican incumbent senators in battleground states.
Another Pew study offers a possible explanation for this partisan disparity. During this year’s primary elections, millennial voters in the Democratic party found news about candidates via social media 74 percent of the time. For their young Republican counterparts, it was only 50 percent of the time.
For the Pennsylvania senate race, #NeverToomey has been used about 50 times on Twitter, compared to #NeverMcGinty only twice, for Toomey’s Democratic opponent Katie McGinty.
And the strategy may be working. According to rollcall.com, a couple of senate races have shifted in favor of the Democrats, including Pennsylvania's. And the report currently indicates Democrats will regain the seats necessary to gain a majority in the Senate come 2017.
Regardless, applying logic to the #Never movement may be a fool’s game. The hashtag #NeverObama has thousands of appearances on Twitter and Facebook. The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution bars President Barack Obama from running for president again. Obama could potentially run for a U.S. House or Senate seat, but a president hasn’t successfully done this since Andrew Johnson became a Tennessee senator is 1874 (15 years after Johnson’s impeachment, oddly).
So congratulations to the Obama haters, come Jan. 20, 2017, #NeverObama will become a reality.
Pat Toomey, the U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania who is in a dogfight for re-election, announced in an Aug. 17 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed that he is denouncing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — the same deal he supported and voted to “fast-track” in May 2015. The TPP would reduce and remove tariffs on international trade for 12 nations, including the U.S., Japan, Australia, Chile and others (not China, for those who were wondering).
“Politicians in both parties who demagogue trade do a disservice to our people,” wrote Toomey in the op-ed, “playing on their economic fears, instead of promoting their economic well-being. But we should not pass a flawed deal just to get a deal done.”
But in 2009, when Sen. Toomey was first running for office, he penned a book on economic policy called The Road to Prosperity. The book highlights the benefits of laissez-faire capitalism that emerged from former president Ronald Reagan’s administration, and includes dozens of mentions on the positive effects of “free trade.”
Multi-millionaire publishing giant Steve Forbes said of the book: “Pat Toomey brilliantly propounds the principles and practical policies needed to make America — and the world — prosperous again. Ronald Reagan, Adam Smith, and Milton Friedman would vigorously applaud what Pat has put forth here.”
In the book, Toomey wrote: “This book reviews many measures the government could take to help ensure a robust recovery and strong, long-term growth including lower taxes, free trade, sound monetary policy and limited spending.”
Toomey also called free international trade a win-win situation and attacks other domestic labor-friendly ideas like raising the minimum wage. “Excessively high minimum wages, sold as protections against worker exploitation, prevent some people from earning any wages,” Toomey wrote.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who Toomey has not yet endorsed, has visited small towns in Western Pennsylvania and decried the TPP for eliminating many blue-collar jobs like steel manufacturing. (However, many experts, like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, point out that so-called bad trade deals were not the biggest factor in the loss of manufacturing jobs. Krugman says that award goes to improvements in technology and efficiency of manufacturers.)
So why is Toomey changing course on his support of TPP?
Toomey’s spokesperson E.R. Anderson says the senator received the full TPP proposal to review in October, and wrote the op-ed now because he had issues with the sections involving agriculture, dairy and the bio-medical industries. Anderson says Toomey questioned TPP negotiators on these industries and was not satisfied with responses.
She says that Toomey is “still in support of free trade” and that the op-ed is “not a rejection of the idea of free trade.”
But given that, in the last couple weeks, Toomey has started to trail his opponent, Democrat Katie McGinty, in four polls, McGinty is more than skeptical.
"Pat Toomey has spent his entire career pushing bad trade deals and policies that ship American jobs overseas, so nobody is buying this ridiculous flip-flop," said McGinty in a press release. "Bad trade deals like the TPP have real impacts on Pennsylvania families, but for Pat Toomey, this is all a political game.”
Some Republicans point out that McGinty changed her mind on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which she supported in 1994 and announced she is against this June. Toomey’s book references NAFTA (and the Central American Free Trade Agreement) writing, “The economic benefit of these trade agreements have been staggering, despite the protests of protectionists.”
However, Toomey's book does highlight a free-trade benefit that may force voters to confront how they really feel about trade deals. He continually references how free-trade deals benefit consumers by providing access to more goods at lower prices (an idea shared in a 2015 economic paper from the White House). And it appears the price of goods is more important to Americans than debating the pros and cons of free trade.
An April AP-GfK poll asked Americans which they would prefer: a $50 pair of jeans made outside of the country or an $85 pair made in the U.S. Two-thirds of pollsters said they would buy the cheaper pair.
CP photo of Katie McGinty by Ryan Deto; image of Pat Toomey provided by candidate
Katie McGinty and Pat Toomey
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty and current Republican Sen. Pat Toomey have agreed to duke it out in two debates. McGinty has agreed one in Pittsburgh, to be broadcast on KDKA, and another in Philadelphia, on WPVI. Toomey's campaign spokesperson Ted Kwong says while the Senator looks forwarding to debating in those cities, he has not officially agreed to participate on those channels.
And Toomey wants more debates, and in locations outside of Pennsylvania's two biggest cities.
“We certainly support having debates in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but why is Katie McGinty stopping at two?" said Kwong in a press release on Aug. 14. "Why is she unwilling to debate in Scranton, Harrisburg or Erie? Maybe it’s because she can’t defend her liberal pro-tax, weak-on-national-security record.”
No announcements have been made about additional debates in other Pennsylvania cities, but McGinty’s campaign says the two agreed-upon debates should be simulcasted and made available to other markets in the state. (Additionally, the last time Toomey was in a general-election race in 2010 against retired Navy admiral Joe Sestak, the two also debated twice — in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.) McGinty accepted invitations to the debates first, on Aug. 12, and issued a challenge to Toomey last week.
“After months of Pat Toomey ducking and dodging from questions about his pro-Wall Street economic policies and his loyalty to Donald Trump, Katie has decided that enough is enough. That's why she's challenging Pat Toomey to two major televised debates that will be seen by Pennsylvanians all across the commonwealth,” said McGinty campaign spokesperson Sean Coit in a press release.
And while Toomey, like Trump, has made immigration and attacking "sanctuary cities" key to his campaign, he has shown little loyalty or support for Trump. Toomey endorsed Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio for president during the primary elections, before vowing to support whomever the Republican presidential candidate would be. As of today, Toomey has yet to give official support or an endorsement to Trump. Toomey and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski are the only Republicans seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate who have not firmly decided on endorsing Trump.
Trump's recent falling in the polls may be having adverse affects on Toomey, regardless of whether the Pennsylvania senator chooses to endorse the Republican presidential candidate. Since winning the Democratic primary in April, McGinty had been even or behind Toomey in most polls. Now, McGinty has taken the lead. Four polls published in the last couple of weeks show McGinty ahead, with the latest Quinnipiac polls showing her up three points against Toomey, 47 percent to 44 percent. McGinty also recently received support from former political rival Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who announced he would be campaigning with McGinty last week.
This ongoing bickering between the McGinty and Toomey could provide for some interesting arguments at the debates, which could include hot-button issues like the economy, the Supreme Court and immigration. (And it will probably be less bizarre than what we see on TV ads about the Senate hopefuls.) Dates and times for debates have not been announced.
This week, the Pennsylvania arm of the Clinton campaign rolled out “Pennsylvania Women for Hillary” in its latest attempt to lock in a sizable demographic to which it already strongly appeals. (According to the latest Franklin & Marshall poll, Clinton is leading Trump in Pennsylvania among white women, 57 percent to 29 percent.)
The campaign held events across the state with specials guests like Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and EMILY's List president Stephanie Schriock; there were at least 14 "Women to Women" phone banks, including one in Pittsburgh's Allentown neighborhood (see video below); and the campaign announced a new "Women's Council," featuring female public figures in Pennsylvania.
"What you have in Pa. is the power to have women voters stand up and stop Donald Trump from becoming president," Schriock told City Paper by phone. (EMILY's List, a group that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women, is featuring U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty, of Pennsylvania, on its website's homepage as a key candidate.) "Today we’re over on the Eastern side of the state energizing our volunteers and mak[ing] the case that Clinton and [running mate Tim] Kaine are going to make sure there’s an economy that works for everybody. Pittsburgh women have a lot at stake in this election too, and have a huge role in making sure we stop this divisive and dangerous agenda of Trump and the GOP."
The campaign says that women in Pennsylvania would benefit from a number of policies in Clinton’s economic plan, including instating a higher minimum wage, changing regulations to ensure equal pay for men and women, passing paid family leave, eliminating college tuition at public universities for families who make $125,000 or less, lowering child-care costs, providing tax relief to caregivers, and ensuring that all 4-year-olds receive quality pre-school.
While policies would of course be implemented on the federal level, the campaign invokes Pennsylvania's demographics. According to the plan, as of 2014, women working full-time in the state earned a median income of $39,905, compared to a man's median income for that year of $50,412. When combined, the plan says, that's a $19 billion yearly loss for full-time women workers. According to the campaign, Clinton's paid-family-leave policy would impact 93,000 working families with newborn children each year in the state. And eliminating college tuition would affect the 86 percent of households that bring in less than $125,000 per year; 57 percent of college students in Pennsylvania are women.
Heather Arnet, executive director of the Pittsburgh-based Women and Girls Foundation, confirms that women in Pennsylvania face economic challenges: More than 60 percent of households living in poverty in the state are run by single moms; in Pittsburgh, it's 73 percent.
"Secretary Clinton’s campaign is completely accurate in saying that while women suffer economically throughout the U.S., it is especially acute here in Pa. and Western Pa.," Arnet says. "The wage gap here has traditionally been worse than the national average, especially for women of color."
Her organization is making a huge push to get paid family leave passed on the state level.
"What’s really important is that it is refreshing to see a presidential candidate talk about things like paid family leave or reproductive health care as economic-security issues," Arnet says. "In the past, they would be framed as women's issues or social issues. It's powerful that Secretary Clinton and her campaign are discussing these issues as part of her economic policy."
Several local women have joined the campaign's new Women's Council, which has nearly 100 members from across the state, including First Lady Frances Wolf.
"For me, it’s truly about getting women into leadership," says Democratic candidate for U.S. House Erin McClelland, who's running against 12th District incumbent Keith Rothfus. "Way too many women you talk to, as soon as you talk politics they regard it as dirty. A lot of them don’t even vote for that reason. Right now they do not have a seat at the negotiating table."
As a member of the council, McClelland says she is currently organizing a panel of young women in politics to discuss "issues women really care about, poverty, education, health care, particularly young women. It’s really hard getting young women involved in politics."
McClelland is in the company of other local women on the council, including Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak, Allegheny County Democratic Party Committee chair Nancy Patton Mills and City of Pittsburgh Chief Urban Affairs Officer Valerie McDonald Roberts, among several others.
With just about 90 days until the election and a huge demographic at stake, those who want to see Clinton in office will be working hard this fall.
"[Pennsylvania] is right in the middle of the big battleground," Schriock says. "You’re going to see a lot more of us coming through."
In a presidential election filled with unprecedented shit, there's one novel aspect flying under the radar: we've known these two people for a long time.
Think about it: 20 years ago, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would likely be recognized by a vast majority of Americans. Sure,not by everybody, but far more than most presidential candidates 20 years before their election run.
How many times has that happened?
Ronald Reagan was a movie star (and Democrat) twenty years before his run. Quincy Adams, FDR, and Bush had family in the president business. Grant and Eisenhower had war-time name recognition. Grover Cleveland had relevant job experience (he'd been president once before).
But 20 years before Barack Obama took the oath, he was a student at Harvard Law. Ditto for Teddy Roosevelt (at 42, our youngest prez). Slick Willy (Bill Clinton) was at Yale, Jimmy Carter was on a submarine, and Honest Abe was in a courtroom in Springfield, Illinois.
In most cases, when the candidates aren't incumbents or VPs, there's a process of familiarization they have to go through. They're in Congress or state government, they're known in their state, they're known in their party, but they're nobodies on the national scale.
And that's a plus. When you're (relatively) unknown, you get to write your own bio. You get a head-start on the media telling your story. You're relegated to a few bullet points and key stances; you're a blank slate. Previously unknown candidates can re-write their identity, stress the parts of their history that work and shush the parts that don’t.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don't have that advantage.
Surely the proliferation of mass media since (and before) 1996 plays a role in our familiarity with Clinton and Trump, but that doesn't change the fact that we've never really known our two candidates this well before. We've never had this much on record before. We've never had so much information to go through, hence the weird weightlessness that seems to apply when either candidate has some bygone quote or stance brought up.
Trump said he'd run as a Republican because Republican voters are stupid?
Clinton said she hates women who bake cookies?
Meh, there's always more where that came from, and it'll probably contradict what we've heard.
So since Pittsburgh City Paper is the paper of record — well, our record anyway — we thought it’d be interesting to see how these two have fared in our pages over the years. After some tireless research (Googling their names), this is what I've found.
It's a partial list; our online archives tap out around 2003, and a lot of the results were just passing mentions. But these mentions underline just how long Clinton has seemed destined for this nomination and just how unlikely Trump's ascent to the seat has been.
"'The casino owners aren't used to people telling them what to do because no one has ever tried it before,' he says. 'If you get tough, then Donald Trump and Steve Wynn aren't coming to Pennsylvania,' he concludes, referring to the most famous Atlantic City and Las Vegas casino owners. 'Because the last thing they want is you knowing what they're up to.'"
"As for accepting innuendo as fact: I trust Clooney will agree that this holds as true for Karl Rove as it does for HillaryClinton, despite how much we'd like to castigate an administration that labels people 'anti-American' for opposing its war."
"For the Joe Bidens and Hillary Clintons to be accommodationists at this point, they should hang their heads in shame. If they think the advantage for running for president is to be Bush Light — that's not the way to be."
"Then again, most Dems I know will be happier voting for Obama OR Clinton than they were voting for white male John Kerry in 2004. And I expect at least one difference between 2007 and 2008: I doubt any Pittsburgh Democrats will be threatening to support the Republican in this year's general election."
"In important ways, the Hillarycare episode epitomizes the Clinton style. The plan was dense, extraordinarily complex, and tuned to a collaborative, evolutionary arrangement between the largest established forces."
Hillarycare really rolls off the tongue, huh? That's why we're still talking about it today.
"If we can't see Bernie Madoff or the head of GM hawk crap on the streets, can't we at least have some clapped-out celebrities be their proxies? And for their boss: Who better than last century's hero, the unrepentant king of garish nouveau riche, Donald Trump?"
"'Tionne, I love your voice ...' — really? The Donald is down with TLC? — '... but you're fired.' Color Miz T stunned, and who can blame her? Her offense: being a team player. Pretty obvious here that that's a role Trump has never experienced."
"Where's Hillary Clinton when you need her? I'm just back from Time After Time at Point Park Conservatory Theatre, and the show is so conflicted and obstructed — so at war with itself — that only a seasoned diplomat could untangle it."
"The book's nearly 800 pages make numerous startling disclosures: that the FBI tried to trick the Secret Service into passing misinformation to Clinton; that prosecutors drafted an indictment of Hillary Clinton before pursuing the Lewinsky scandal instead ..."
"The market in GOP frontrunners is already plenty volatile, of course. For awhile Palin was the frontrunner. Then it was Donald Trump. Mitt Romney seemed the default choice until Iowa's recent straw caucus. Bachmann now seems on top, though Perry may topple her. After that, who knows? Paul Ryan? Allen West?"
"Sheena Monnin, a Cranberry Township resident and former Miss Pennsylvania is ordered to pay $5 million to billionaire Donald Trump for saying the Miss Universe pageant — owned by Trump — was 'fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy' on her Facebook page. Isn't that part of Trump's charm?"
"Polls show voters favor the suit, but that's largely due to support from Penn State fans: Everyone else — from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — has blasted it. Corbett's staff has been reduced to retweeting attaboys from such renowned legal minds as Donald Trump."
"After much flirting, real-estate mogul, reality-TV star and all-around bloviator DonaldTrump made it official: He's running for president. Snarky columnists are crying with joy; the Republican party may just be crying."
“I am grateful and honored to offer a full-throated endorsement for Katie and her candidacy. ... It’s that important that we elect Katie, she is a real champion for Pennsylvania’s working families,” Fetterman said during a joint-conference call with McGinty and reporters.
Fetterman's endorsement is a departure from his time competing against McGinty during the primary campaign, where he called her out on many issues, most notably her support of fracking. Fetterman told PittsburghCity Paper in February that McGinty has positioned herself as a “green fracker” and described that position as a “paradox.” (McGinty served as the state’s secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection for five years in the mid-2000s.)
During the call, Fetterman acknowledged their past rift and defended his endorsement saying “Katie and I agree on 95 out of 100 issues.”
Fetterman's endorsement shouldn't come as much surprise, however. Though he was one of the first primary election candidates in the country to endorse former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton secured the nomination, Fetterman threw his support towards her. He said Donald Trump was too dangerous a candidate to become president.
And now Fetterman and McGinty are uniting under a common goal: reducing Wall Street’s role in our political system and ensuring Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey isn't re-elected.
“John has been a vigorous and effective fighter for hard working people,” said McGinty. “This effort that he is joining me on today, to call attention and continue to defend consumers and Main Street against Wall Street, is exceptionally important. Millions of American families continue to struggle, not having regained their footing after the devastating losses of the great recession.”
Both McGinty and Fetterman were critical of Toomey and his ties to Wall Street. Toomey was an investment banker before entering politics in the late ‘90s. McGinty said his opposition to the financial regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act and the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is an example of how Toomey is putting Wall Street ahead of Main Street.
Ted Kwong, communications director for Toomey’s campaign rejected this assertion and wrote to CP that Toomey has also been critical of Wall Street when he opposed government bailouts of financial institutions.
But McGinty said she wants to go beyond that. She said she would further strengthen Dodd-Frank, ensure banks can’t invest in risky hedge funds and further boost the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, in 2011.
When asked how she would appeal to voters in small industrial towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania that may be wooedby Donald Trump’s claims that the steel industry will return, McGinty said there is an incredible opportunity to return jobs to these areas. McGinty said thousands of roads and bridges need to be repaired and vowed that manufacturing can compete here in the region.
And Fetterman’s support could help bring a tide of Southwestern Pennsylvania voters to McGinty, who was born and raised in Philadelphia and lives nearby today. Fetterman won Allegheny County in the Pa. primary, amassing around 93,000 votes, and also did well in other nearby counties.
But whether Fetterman's supporters will embrace McGinty isn't guaranteed. When Sanders threw his support and endorsement towards Clinton in the runup to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last month, many of his supporters dissented. Inside the Wells Fargo Arena, they booed, held up protest signs, and even staged a walkout during Clinton’s official nomination. (They returned less than two hours later to watch the rest of the speeches, FYI.)
Still, in circumstances like these data shows voters can be swayed by endorsements. According to FiveThirtyEight.com, before the DNC many Sanders supporters said they wouldn't vote for Clinton. But Sanders' endorsement did help persuade some of them to change their mind, even if a third say they are undecided or voting for a third-party candidate.
Yes, these kittens are in a political attack ad against Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
If you watch TV and didn’t know anything Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate candidates, odds are you’re an expert now. The faces of Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty have been seen on the airwaves probably more than any casual political observer would like. The Pennsylvania Senate race has raised $35 million and spent $25 million, the most money of any other statewide senate race, according to OpenSecrets.org. And most of that money is spent on ads.
With all that cash comes some doozies of commercials. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad portrays McGinty, a former Pennsylvania environmental secretary, as a zealot looking to tax the energy of kids playing on swing sets (“Run Jimmy! Run!”). And a Majority Forward PAC ad plasters Toomey’s mug on a candy heart and asserts that he and Wall Street are valentines. (Toomey was an investment banker before entering politics in the late '90s.)
But the most interesting and bizarre ads are those apparently targeted to a meme-happy generation that is obsessed with cute animals. An anti-Toomey ad shows kittens scratching each other’s backs, a nod to how Wall Street firms have given him campaign donations (see above). And an anti-McGinty ad airing in Philadelphia says voting for McGinty would be like choosing to eat a live-hamster sandwich (see below).
But are these advertisements reaching the voters they should be? Probably not. Studies show that TV ads do very little to influence voters. And young people, those who watch traditional television less than anyone, might be even more left in the dark. However, these advertisements are also available to watch online.
According to a recent poll from Suffolk University, young Pennsylvanians (18-34) were undecided more than any other age group in the state's U.S. Senate race. Furthermore, people in this same age range also reported the highest percentages of not knowing who Toomey and McGinty are, 14 percent for Toomey and 27 percent for McGinty.
And this poll was taken the last week of July, weeks after the cat and hamster ads assaulted our eyeballs.
Nonetheless, more money will be spent, and voters can probably expect weirder and weirder ads trying to draw their attention.