Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Katie McGinty: On My Radar

Until last week my full attention in the upcoming Democratic gubernatorial primary was focused on Allyson Schwartz, John Hanger, and whether or not Rob McCord has freaking announced already.  This all changed abruptly when I read an article on Penn Live about Katie McGinty.  A couple weeks ago before John Hanger made a visit to Hollidaysburg, I had been avoiding intense mental involvement in the primary race altogether.  It is, after all, still ten months away.  Nevertheless, election cycles are getting longer and longer and when people start to campaign that close by, well it's time to hunker down and get ready for the long haul. So, while it seems a little early to be totally decided on a candidate, Katie McGinty is a candidate that I might actually be excited about.

Since she made her way onto my radar I've been scouring the internet, trying to soak up every iota of available information.  Her bio is lengthy, to say the least.  From a working class Pennsylvania family, the ninth of ten children, she earned a B.S. in Chemistry from St. Joseph University and went on to earn a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law.  On top of an impressive educational background, Katie McGinty has had a long career in both the public and private sectors, working primarily on environmental concerns.  In fact she made such an impact in that arena that, at the official renaming of the EPA's headquarters, President Bill Clinton mentioned McGinty specifically as a person who deserved to have the building named after them as least as much as he did.

Interestingly, much of McGinty's environmental work has been in the private sector so it would seem that she is uniquely qualified to move our commonwealth toward creating jobs in the fields of environmental sustainability and renewable energies.  In Bill Clinton's speech at the newly named EPA headquarters, he said:
“You can protect our precious natural resources, and you promote the public health, and you can fight climate change” while still growing the economy and jobs, Clinton said. “In fact, from now on, that’s going to be the only way to have a sustainable economy.”
That's a mantra that Katie McGinty espouses whole heartedly, and we should all be glad of it.  She's not the only environmentally friendly candidate out there, after all John Hanger was her successor as Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, but McGinty has far more experience applying her passion for an environmentally sustainable economy in practice.  Those concerned about the environment have expressed some dismay about the connection of candidate Allyson Schwartz to the fracking industry through large campaign contributions.  It is, as yet, too early to know who exactly is contributing to McGinty's campaign, but campaign contributions are certainly something that it's good to keep an eye on.

It has also been pointed, so astutely, that Katie McGinty is a woman and has thus split the female vote just by entering the race.  In April, just after McGinty declared, John Baer pointed out in his column, Baer Growls:
"So the question becomes which woman, McGinty or Schwartz, has greater statewide appeal to the Democratic base. That's unclear at the moment. But what's certain is Schwartz no longer has a clean shot."
Let the cat fights begin! Insert eyeroll here. I hate to be the one to break it to John Baer, but Schwartz didn't have a "clean shot" to begin with. He may not know this, but women don't vote exclusively based on who's got a vagina...even Democratic women. Feminism means a lot of things, and one of those things is that wanting women to succeed doesn't mean voting into office every woman that runs for a position.

During my research I was happy to learn that, though she doesn't seem to have talked about it extensively at this point, Katie McGinty is a strong supporter of the rights of women to control their own bodies. Robert Vickers of The Patriot News noted, "Though pro-business, she's an environmentalist who supports gay marriage, tighter gun control, embraces Obamacare, and is pro-choice." While I'd certainly like to hear a little more detail to those various positions, we've got plenty of time to get into the nitty gritty of it all.

McGinty has served many years in government service under Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Ed Rendell; however she's never served as an elected official before.  This was, momentarily, a fact that gave me pause, considering that the position of Governor is a state's highest office.  Still, after a little research I found that - if elected - McGinty wouldn't be the first governor in Pennsylvania's history to have never served as an elected official prior to their time as governor.  Both Dick Thornburgh and Milton Shapp vaulted directly from non-elected service to the governor's seat.  This is not even to mention the various governors of other states who came to the office without elected experience.  Still, it's an issue that will likely be raised when compared to candidates like Allyson Schwartz and - if he ever gets in the race - Rob McCord, both of whom have experience as elected officials.

Given her apparent zeal for the office, I hope that in the near future McGinty's campaign will take the dive into social media.  She's already got a serviceable website, but there's nothing cheaper or easier than creating a Facebook page or a twitter account (or both) to keep in touch with supporters and keep people updated on where you're appearing and what you're doing.  John Hanger and Allyson Schwartz are both already in campaign mode, traveling across the state and making appearances and even having house parties.  I've read that McGinty's also traveling and "hustling for support", but unfortunately I don't know where or when.

For now I'll be watching my Google Alerts for any updates, and I hope that I get to see Katie McGinty speak in person in the not-to-distant future.  If you can, I always suggest seeing a candidate speak live, since politics is sometimes more about your persona than it is your positions.  I look forward to finding out whether McGinty really has the one-two punch.