A Good Candidate Using a Disappointing Campaign Tactic

Kate McGinty is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania currently held by Pat Toomey. McGinty is a Democrat, Toomey a Republican.

The Curmudgeon likes McGinty. If he still lived in Pennsylvania he would be voting for her without hesitation and he still regrets that Democrat Tom Wolf and not McGinty was elected governor of Pennsylvania.

But every time a McGinty campaign ad runs on radio or television The Curmudgeon cringes because the first reference to her opponent is always to “Millionaire Pat Toomey.”

Well, Toomey is, after all, a millionaire, so what’s The Curmudgeon’s beef?

His beef is that McGinty is, too. Finding her financial disclosure forms from when she worked for the state of Pennsylvania – just a year ago – proved too much for The Curmudgeon’s limited research skills and time for such endeavors, but a quick web search uncovered this from a report citing an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

In October 2008, Ms. McGinty took a board position with NRG Energy, an increasingly green-focused power provider with natural-gas, coal, wind and other energy facilities across the state. Between 2008 and 2013, when Ms. McGinty left the board, she received $1.1 million in cash and stock awards, SEC filings show.

And there are other jobs, too, including highly paid board positions. McGinty’s husband works, too. So Ms. McGinty, like Toomey, is a millionaire.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

mcgintyOh, she may not be as rich as Pat Toomey – although we really don’t know that, do we? – but her commercials’ repeated references to Toomey’s financial well-being is a disingenuous, dishonest attempt to make him the “them” in an “us versus them” financial comparison in which she is the champion of the little guy, of working people, and Toomey is the champion of rich people and big business. It’s enough that many of McGinty’s ads remind us of her working-class roots; in fact, she’s just a few years younger than The Curmudgeon and grew up just a short drive from where he did. There’s no reason for her to hide that she grew up, got a good education (including a bachelor’s degree in education from a local school and then law school at Columbia University), and made something of herself; those are things she should be proud of, not things she should downplay to seem as if she’s just “regular folks.” We don’t need “regular folks” in the U.S. Senate; we need exceptional people, and McGinty shouldn’t hide information that suggests she might be one.

It’s reasonable for McGinty to draw attention to the differences between her and her opponent on matters that affect working people; it’s an argument worth making and those differences are pretty significant. McGinty has a record and positions of which she can be proud.

And she shouldn’t deceive to advance them.


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