Katie McGinty, the Best Choice for the Senate in Pennsylvania
October 21, 2016, 2:16pm

The Editorial Board – The New York Times.

Democrats need a net gain of five seats to control the Senate next year, four should Hillary Clinton win. Among the most closely contested states is Pennsylvania, where Pat Toomey, the incumbent Republican, is engaged in an expensive and sometimes nasty battle with Katie McGinty, his Democratic challenger. Ms. McGinty seems on the upswing as Donald Trump’s campaign implodes, and now leads Mr. Toomey by less than a percentage point.

Ms. McGinty’s working-class roots — she is one of 10 children born to a Philadelphia policeman and a restaurant hostess — inform her advocacy. She would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 over four years, and on the whole shows far greater sensitivity to the needs of the jobless and middle-class families than her opponent.

And while she seems at times an awkward and inexperienced campaigner, she is not inexperienced in the ways of government. As chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the 1990s, she helped organize the Clinton administration’s successful counterattack against efforts by the Republican Congress to undermine the nation’s basic environmental laws. Later, as Pennsylvania‘s environmental chief, she helped push the state toward greater use of cleaner energy sources like wind and solar, not only as a way to combat climate change but as a source of new jobs in an aging rust-belt economy.

There were eyebrow-raising moments during her tenure in state government, as when the agency she led made grants to a nonprofit group that employed her husband, prompting stricter ethics rules. She later took a lucrative board position at an energy company she’d assisted while in state office.

These were regrettable actions, but they pale compared with Mr. Toomey’s steadfast support of, and by, the Wall Street players who helped perpetrate the 2008 financial crisis. A former investment banker who has served three terms in the House, Mr. Toomey has stoutly defended the interests of the anti-regulators at the Club for Growth and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile trying to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

It’s a shame Mr. Toomey can’t more often summon the courage he showed on gun safety, as when he co-sponsored legislation to strengthen background checks for gun buyers after the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012. But political courage does not seem to be his strong suit. He says, for instance, that Mr. Trump’s charges of widespread vote rigging are totally false and that Mr. Trump is a “badly flawed” candidate. But he can’t say whether he will support Mr. Trump for president.

His views on social issues jump right out of the Tea Party playbook: He is anti-abortion and voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Ms. McGinty favors a woman’s right to choose and Planned Parenthood. Mr. Toomey voted to repeal Obamacare. Ms. McGinty supports it. Mr. Toomey’s vote on environmental issues won him a zero ranking in 2015 from the League of Conservation Voters. Ms. McGinty’s environmental record speaks for itself.

Mr. Toomey portrays Ms. McGinty as a sure rubber-stamp for Hillary Clinton. Our own take is that she has an independent streak that would place her state’s interests before party fealty. In any case, she is clearly the much better choice for anyone concerned about social and economic fairness.