Not many people are aware that there was a locally televised debate between Pennsylvania’s incumbent Senator, Pat Toomey, and former environmental advisor, Katie McGinty, on October 17th, in the booming city of Pittsburgh. There was no crowd, no elaborate set, and, perhaps most importantly, no bald eagle randomly photo-bombing the candidates throughout the duration of the debate – just two determined candidates outnumbered by the three local moderators, in KDKA’s television studio. While both candidates performances were undeniably superior to that of either Presidential nominee, it was evident that Pat Toomey possessed a stronger grasp on the many issues discussed. Most importantly, he was able to effectively portray himself as a Senator who is not a slave to partisanship through his record and continued actions in the Senate.
The very first question of the debate had Toomey on the defense when moderator, Ken Rice, question the candidates allegiances’ to their respective party’s Presidential nominee. This comes after Toomey’s strong public reluctance to support Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump. The response that Toomey crafted was simple and fair, explaining how “Trump is simply a badly flawed candidate,” claiming his public disapproval of the nominee with a sense of pride. He did, however, acknowledge how as President, Trump would “sign constructive legislation” like “the repealing Obamacare and restoration of sanctions on Iran.” Toomey even managed to flip the script on McGinty, saying how she “can’t even say one bad thing about Hillary,” where impart he began discussing how McGinty is stubbornly tied to partisanship and is “unwilling to work with people of opposing views.” He also condoned McGinty’s unwavering loyalty to Clinton, even through her blatant corruption and continued lies to the American people, drawing a parallel to the fact that McGinty “started her campaign on the lie that she was the first in her family to attend college,” when in reality, her “older brother had attended college before her and went back for a graduate degree before she even got out of high school.”
Another key issue discussed was that of community-police relationships, and how “implicit bias,” to quote Hillary Clinton, plays a contributing role in these “strained relationships.” Toomey reaffirmed that he believes “most police officers are good and honest men and women” who “protect us” and called McGinty out for continuing to “propagate the narrative” that the police inherently possess implicit bias. Toomey went on to say how every police force in Pennsylvania that provides endorsements, have endorsed him, even the “Philadelphia police force which McGinty’s father used to serve on.” McGinty went on to refute Toomey’s allegation that “no police force has come out and endorsed her,” but when pressed multiple times to name a specific law enforcement agency in support of her, McGinty could name none.
In his closing statement, Toomey outlined three points that he has been focusing on while serving as Pennsylvania’s senator for the past 6 years; First and foremost, Toomey talked about how he is a “fiscal conservative” and has been “fighting to lower middle class tax burdens.” This ties into his second point about how he continues to stand up for Pennsylvania’s best interest, whether that be against “Washington’s war on fossil energy” or for the “oil refineries in suburban Philadelphia.” The Senator ended by talking about how he is an “independent voice” who is willing and has “worked across the aisle” with people such as New York’s Democratic Senator, Chuck Schumer, on a “jobs bill that helped encourage job creation,” as well as West Virginia’s Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, on “background checks,” in sharp contrast to McGinty, who is “Washington’s rubber stamp.”
Overall, watching this Senate debate was like inhaling a patch of fresh air in an atmosphere polluted by the toxic words that escape the mouths of both presidential candidates and, subsequently, the drooling news media who thrive on their words – the more toxic the better. It was everything a debate should be: civil, respectful, informative, and direct – a sharp contrast to all of the presidential debates. The professionalism displayed by both candidates and the moderators alike was so pronounced, that it almost appeared to be a mockery of the presidential debates and both candidates: if two Pennsylvanians from working class families can exhibit basic competence when discussion the best interests of their constituents, why can’t the hotshot senator/first lady/secretary of state and the pompous “billionaire” do the same? Lucky for the citizens of Pennsylvania, whatever the outcome of the Senate race may be, they will have a respectable, competent, individual representing them, together with Bob Casey, on the Senate floor.

Photo Credits: Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons