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Obama Weighs In With Senate Endorsements

Obama Weighs In With Senate Endorsements
(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Thursday, 07 April 2016 01:36 PM Current | Bio | Archive

“I'm confident that there will be additional [Obama] endorsements,” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, told me at the regular briefing for White House reporters.

With Obama backing Senate hopefuls in contested primaries in Florida and now Pennsylvania, Earnest’s remarks were widely interpreted as a hint the president will next give his blessings to one of a handful of Democrats vying for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in the California primary in June.

Last week, the president made headlines throughout the Keystone State when he and Vice President Biden issued a strong endorsement for Democratic Senate hopeful Katie McGinty, who is locked in a tight battle for nomination to oppose Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

According to a just-completed Harper Poll of likely Democratic primary voters, McGinty, top aide to Gov. Tom Wolf, leads former Rep. and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Sestak by a margin of 41-to-31 percent, with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman at 9 percent.

On issues ranging from climate change to the minimum wage to foreign policy, there are almost no differences between the candidates. All three are considered products of the Democratic Party’s left-of-center wing, with Fetterman a proud backer of Bernie Sanders for president.

“If there were 100 votes in the Senate, all three would vote the same on 98 of them,” explained Franklin and Marshall College professor G. Terry Madonna, considered the premier pollster in Pennsylvania.

According to Madonna, the surge for McGinty is “because Democrats here have been unhappy with Joe Sestak for a long time. In 2010, he challenged [the late Sen. Arlen] Specter in the primary and beat him. [Then-Gov.] Ed Rendell was a close friend of Specter’s and really resented Sestak. And he has this maverick way about him in which he just doesn’t court party leaders here.”

McGinty’s blessing from Obama and Biden has opened a floodgate of support for her from a “Who’s Who” of Democratic leaders. Both Gov. Wolf and the state’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey have weighed in for McGinty. In addition, 25 labor unions have endorsed McGinty and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also unleashed a $1 million expenditure of her behalf.

When he spoke to me, Earnest noted that before endorsing McGinty, the president endorsed centrist Rep. and Florida Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy in his primary fight with far-left Rep. Alan Grayson.

“The president only makes a decision to weigh in when he feels strongly about the benefits of one particular candidate,” said Earnest, “In most cases, it shouldn’t necessarily be considered a criticism of the other Democrats. In some cases, it might. But in many cases, it shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a criticism of any of the candidates, but rather the President's strong feelings about the potential of the candidate that he endorsed.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Obama is backing Senate hopefuls in contested primaries in Florida and now Pennsylvania.
obama, senate, endorsement
Thursday, 07 April 2016 01:36 PM
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