I SAW SOMETHING this week I'd not seen before.

Katie McGinty offered a glimpse of being a genuine, thoughtful human being.

I'm not suggesting she isn't. I'm noting she normally doesn't give evidence of same in public.

This time she did.

It came after an address Monday to the Pennsylvania Press Club, when she was asked whether, if elected, she'd support annual increases in government spending for cancer research.

A softball question, granted. Of course she would.

But McGinty, a Democrat seeking to oust Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in an election with national implications, showed more of herself in her short response than at any point in her just-concluded, read-from, long-winded presentation.

Or in previous speeches I've heard her give, including one during the Democratic National Convention so badly delivered I'm betting the teleprompter operator nodded off. Or one last March in the primary season that was good because of its lack of her trademark smiling saccharine, but still absent hints of humanity.

Monday, some sneaked in.

She grew up, you may know, in a family of 10 kids in Northeast Philly, a touchstone she uses often.

This time, she drew on the fact that one of her brothers, a coal miner, died of lung cancer, and an older sister died of brain cancer.

"It's a demon disease," she said with more than a little emotion in her voice.

Suddenly, she wasn't reading, she was talking. Her tone changed. Her delivery was different. And she expanded beyond herself, saying that finding a cure is "a mission so worthy of the people of this country."

She cited American talent in science and technology, especially among the young, available to fight cancer. She said we should "put those efforts to this noble purpose."

Again, hardly a unique call, but delivered with heart and feeling, vastly different from when she reads from a text about fighting for the middle class by (cue the Democratic litany) raising the minimum wage, making child-care and college affordable, ensuring gender pay equity, etc., etc.

I know high-stakes campaigns are cautious. And McGinty's shown she should be. Recently calling Toomey "an a-hole," for example, probably led to some reining in.

But a little more show of heartfelt humanity and less rote recital of Hillary Clinton's agenda would serve McGinty better than her campaign serves her now.

She already has luck on her side.

Luck that Donald Trump tops the GOP ticket in a state where Clinton has a comfortable lead.

Luck that Toomey is stuck in a limbo of not really liking Trump but not really leaving Trump, and facing trouble getting his own message out while fending off questions regarding Trump.

Luck that national money from Democrats, labor, women's groups, and super PACs is helping her in a Senate race that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, is the country's most expensive.

And luck that she's in a toss-up contest deemed critical for control of the Senate, which means money will continue to flow.

McGinty's only other statewide run, for governor two years back, was, to be kind, deficient. She had trouble fundraising and finished last in a primary field of four.

So luck's good for her to have this time around.

Toomey, even vulnerable, is far from a pushover. He's no novice and has heavy backing from business and conservative PACs anxious to preserve a GOP Senate majority. Gabby Giffords' endorsement this week sure doesn't hurt.

He'll mount a formidable argument for re-election. She'll offer an alternative. We'll see whether voters believe it's genuine.


Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

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