April 12, 2016

McGinty Prioritized Personal “Brand,” Not Pennsylvania, As Chief of Staff

Katie McGinty frequently touts the whopping nine months she spent as Governor Tom Wolf’s chief-of-staff as proof she’s qualified to be a U.S. Senator (to be fair, it’s better than touting her 7% finish in the 2014 gubernatorial primary).

But Harrisburg insiders who actually observed McGinty in the role have panned her performance, saying she was all about promoting herself instead of Pennsylvania.

Following McGinty’s resignation in the midst of the state budget crisis in July, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Baer predicted that a McGinty-free administration would be a step in the right direction:

When an elected official’s chief of staff resigns it’s usually a bad thing for the person resigning or the office or the elected official.

But last week’s resignation of Gov. Wolf’s chief of staff, Katie McGinty, is a good thing. Maybe even a trifecta: good for Wolf, good for the stalled state budget and good for McGinty, who seems poised to run for the U.S. Senate.

And documented how McGinty used her official role to raise her profile:

Her outsized, upbeat personality carried over from the campaign, in which she was the focus, into a job in which Wolf should be the focus.

She did editorial boards, lashed Republicans and generally seemed to still be a candidate.

A Capitolwire analysis of Wolf’s first year, published just last week, was even more scathing for McGinty:

But sources close to the budget negotiations said McGinty did little if anything to resolve the difference. Republican and Democratic sources said she was rarely engaged and appeared more interested in promoting the McGinty brand.

“Ms. McGinty was more interested in her own personal agenda than the governor’s,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, noting she never made an effort at building relationships within the General Assembly.

McGinty’s self-promotion was apparent to nonpartisan observers like prominent political scientist Terry Madonna:

“Everyone knew that McGinty did more press conferences and public availabilities than any chief of staff ever,” said Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. “She did more in six months than any chief of staff in four years.”