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Bernie Sanders campaigns for Katie McGinty

Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor Credit: Aisha Han/Assistant Visual Editor

Hundreds of people gathered in Wiegand Gymnasium on Friday afternoon to attend the senatorial campaign rally for Democratic candidate Katie McGinty. McGinty was joined by several other notable guests, including Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

As a member of the United States Senate, McGinty promises to take a stance on protecting the environment, defending women’s rights, and supporting middle class families. Having served as former Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Wolf, in addition to serving as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, McGinty has an undeniably impressive track record. Despite the fact that she has never held political office, McGinty has proved herself to be a competitive candidate, with polls indicating that she is currently neck-to-neck with her biggest rival, Republican Senator Pat Toomey who has held a seat in Pennsylvania since 2011. McGinty has also been endorsed by heavyweight Democrats on Capitol Hill, including both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

McGinty’s role in this senatorial election cycle is crucial. If she is elected into the United States Senate, not only would she be the first-ever female senator to represent the state of Pennsylvania, but her win would also be a major victory for the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party needs to reclaim five senatorial seats to restore a majority, and securing Pennsylvania could be a near determinant factor to take back the Senate from the Republican Party. With the country witnessing a presidential election that has proven to be unpredictable, to say the least, the result of this senatorial election cycle is critical.

Emmett Eldred, a senior English and Philosophy double major and co-founder of Carnegie Mellon’s College Democrats organization kicked off the event with an enthusiastic introduction that seemed to rile up anticipation and excitement among members of the crowd. Pittsburgh City Councilman and Carnegie Mellon alum Dan Gilman also expressed his support for McGinty before welcoming John Fetterman to the stage.

Fetterman was an ideal choice to introduce McGinty, considering that his position as the mayor of Braddock and as somewhat of a local celebrity could help the campaign appeal to the local demographic. He left the audience laughing with several pop culture references, while also criticizing Senator Pat Toomey. In one of his remarks, Fetterman described Toomey’s questionable relationship with Donald Trump as, “the greatest love story since The Notebook.” Despite facing McGinty as an opponent in the primaries earlier this year, Fetterman showed his full support for her campaign. Fetterman stated “I know first hand better than anybody just how capable, how intelligent, how committed [McGinty] is to standing up for Pennsylvania’s middle class families.”

An eruption of cheers and chanting welcomed McGinty as she took the stage and invited her supporters to join her in “[shattering] the glass ceiling in the United States Senate.” Her speech commenced with negative appraisals of Senator Toomey, criticizing his support towards Wall Street corporations, his failure to stay loyal to his constituents, and his stance against college affordability. McGinty also addressed pitfalls of the American Dream, claiming that while Americans continue to work hard, the current political system keeps them from getting ahead. As the audience stirred in agreement, she continued, “any person giving it their all is deserving of our dignity and respect,” referring mainly to workers being paid minimum wage. She added, “your zip code is not your destiny,” an expression that Fetterman has also used liberally throughout his tenure as mayor of Braddock, where median household income and education statistics are notoriously low.

As McGinty made her concluding remarks, the crowd started buzzing in anticipation and finally exploded into uproar when Senator Bernie Sanders took the stage. This came as no surprise given his popularity among millennials during this presidential election cycle, which earned him the reputation as the leading progressive voice of the country. The former presidential candidate asserted that, “The future agenda of the United States of America may well rest on the results of this election, which is why we need Katie McGinty in the United States Senate.” He maintained the stance he took on many issues during his own campaign, including the need to reclaim the country’s wealth from the “top one percent.” It has become evident that Senator Sanders has an undeniable talent when it comes to appealing to his supporters, and his participation in McGinty’s campaign could prove to hold a significant advantage over Senator Toomey. The event came to a close with Senator Sanders’ forceful reminder that, “We are not a poor nation. We are the richest nation in the history of the world. Our job is to elect Katie and Secretary Clinton. Our job is to transform the United States of America.”