Political notebook: McGinnis stands behind Wagner

When York County trash-company owner Scott Wagner won a historic write-in campaign in Tuesday’s special election for the state Senate, he did so with a little help from Altoona.

State Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, appeared on the steps of the York County Courthouse March 10 to lambaste state Republican leadership – the people who, in McGinnis’ words, engaged in “usurpation” and “disenfranchisement” when they pressed another candidate against Wagner in the special election.

McGinnis said he was inspired to support Wagner when he realized the race’s similarities to his own 2012 victory over longtime state Rep. Rick Geist.

But critics noted that, in 2012, Wagner had contributed thousands of dollars to McGinnis’ own outsider campaign. According to state finance reports, Wagner’s money made up some 7 percent of McGinnis’ 2012 funds.

Was McGinnis’ impassioned public support a quid pro quo?

“If quid pro quo means I’m there to support a friend and a fellow patriot, yeah, that’s a quid pro quo,” McGinnis said Friday. “I’m sure I upset Republican leadership … but I don’t care.”

At least one York County resident didn’t appreciate McGinnis’ involvement in the harshly contested Senate race. In a York Daily Record video of McGinnis’ courthouse speech, a man shouts at the representative: “You come to York County, and you’re spewing your incorrect approach to politics.”

Wagner, considered a tea party candidate, went on to win by a sizable margin in a vote that drew extremely low turnout.

Asked whether he would travel to endorse outsider candidates against the Republican establishment again, McGinnis said, “Absolutely.”

Bachmann on the way

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., the renowned congresswoman who’s earned the ire of Democrats and the admiration of tea party Republicans, is set to address her fellow party members April 10 in Blair County, according to a news release from the Blair County Republican Committee.

The party will hold a private reception, followed by remarks and a Lincoln Day dinner with Bachmann.

Bachmann, the four-term congresswoman and 2012 presidential hopeful, has said she will not run for her seat this year.

Overalls and subsidies

If you watch local TV news, chances are you’ve seen the latest ad Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, has leveled against Republican primary challenger Art Halvorson.

The 30-second commercial shows a cartoonish Halvorson, dressed in overalls and a sun hat, cashing in on government farm subsidies despite his opposition to the subsidy system.

“He’s a hypocrite,” a goofy-sounding announcer says. “And Washington already has enough of those.”

A matching website presents government documents to prove Halvorson sought government money for farms in Iowa and Bedford County.

Halvorson rebutted the claims in a Thursday news release.

“I did not receive a dime of subsidy money for my farmland in Iowa. [Shuster] deliberately confuses agricultural subsidies with cash payments,” he said. “This is like saying I received cash subsidies because I drive on an interstate highway built with tax dollars.”

The two might get a chance to hammer out the issue in an upcoming debate. Shuster will make a public announcement soon on a debate with challengers Halvorson and Travis Schooley, campaign manager Sean Joyce said Friday.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.