President Obama and Vice President Biden on Wednesday endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty, another sign that the party’s establishment is coalescing behind her in a contentious Pennsylvania primary battle.
The endorsements give the former gubernatorial chief of staff a huge boost ahead of the April 26 primary, where the candidates will vie for the chance to take on Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
Obama pointed to McGinty's work with the administration and her commitment to the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania.
"Katie is a true champion for working families, with a proven record of taking on big challenges and delivering for people,” Obama said in a statement.
“I know Katie will take that same tenacity and drive with her to the Senate to ensure affordable, available heath care, to protect Social Security and Medicare, and to uphold and enforce Wall Street reforms,” he said.
Obama and Biden’s endorsements come one week after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed McGinty over her main primary rival, former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.).
But while McGinty continues to rack up support from the party’s establishment, she trails Sestak in polls and he holds a cash advantage.
Sestak riled party leaders by running and successfully winning against then-Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in 2010. He then lost to Toomey by 2 points in the general election.
John Fetterman, mayor of the suburban Pittsburgh city of Braddock, and businessman Joe Vodvarka are also running in the Democratic primary.
The winner of the Democratic nomination will go on to face Toomey in a competitive election that could help determine which party controls the Senate in the next Congress.
Democrats need a net gain of at least four seats to win back control the Senate and five seats if Republicans win the White House.
But the GOP senator has a significant cash advantage over all of his Democratic opponents and defeats them in polls of general election match-ups.
Toomey's campaign reacted to McGinty's endorsements with criticism of her Washington ties.
"It's not surprising that every Democratic insider has found a kindred spirit in career insider Katie McGinty," spokesman Ted Kwong said in a statement. "McGinty used the revolving door to profit on corporate boards, lobbied for a notorious D.C. law firm, and is reliably falling in line with liberal priorities like sanctuary cities and the reckless Iran Deal."
While Obama has not made a public endorsement in the Democratic presidential race, the president has issued a series of endorsements in other high-profile Senate races. Obama and Biden endorsed Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) over liberal firebrand Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor MORE (D-Fla.) for the open Florida Senate seat.
They have also backed former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in his match-up with Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates DHS chief 'horrified' by images at border DHS secretary condemns treatment of Haitian migrants but says US will ramp up deportations MORE (R-Ohio) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in a likely rematch with Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLiberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes MORE (R-Wis.).