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National Dems formally back McGinty in Pa. Senate race

WASHINGTON – National Democrats made official Wednesday what has been clear for some months: they are backing Katie McGinty to win the party's U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania, hoping she can overtake Joe Sestak.

Democrats' national Senate campaign arm announced its endorsement Wednesday as the race heads into its final month, with Sestak leading in public polling so far. The formal backing hints that the Washington-based Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee could get directly involved in the stretch run, as McGinty tries to rally with a wave of television ads.

The Pennsylvania race is critical to Democrats' hopes of taking control of the Senate. They have made the incumbent Republican, Pat Toomey, one of the top targets in the country, but many Democratic insiders worry that Sestak is too much of a political maverick for such a high profile race.

"Pennsylvanians who want a tireless fighter for the middle class have no better leader than Katie McGinty," said Tom Lopach, the Senate campaign committee's executive director.

McGinty, of Wayne, is Gov. Wolf's former chief of staff. She, Sestak, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and western Pennsylvania resident Joseph Vodvarka are competing for the Democratic nomination in the April 26 primary.

Sestak's personal style and refusal to take advice (he says orders) from Washington have chafed many Democratic leaders. McGinty has racked up support from the party elite, including from its top Senator, Harry Reid. Backing from the national campaign arm often comes with help on television, though a spokeswoman would not comment on the committee's strategy.

TV ads are critical in such a large state, but airtime is expensive.

Sestak, a former admiral and congressman from Delaware County, said he puts his faith in grassroots voters.

"I trust the people, that they're going to be able to distinguish true leaders for them from mere power holders," Sestak said. "The people know that there are no more kings and no more king makers."

McGinty has said she is gaining momentum, but Republicans called the late endorsement an act of desperation.

"The Democratic powerbrokers know Katie McGinty is running an uninspiring campaign that is not catching on, but the question is why are they so panicked by the thought of Joe Sestak as their nominee," said Toomey campaign spokesman Ted Kwong. He asserted that Sestak would be too far left for Pennsylvanians.

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