McGinty hires media firm for Pa. governor's race

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty has hired SKD Knickerbocker, one of the party’s top strategy and media firms, her campaign announced Wednesday.


SKD Knickerbocker, led by senior partner Bill Knapp, has been involved in five of the past presidential campaigns. It handled television and direct mail advertising for President Obama’s 2008 victory, and has helped elected 10 Democratic senators since 2006.

“Katie McGinty is putting together a campaign team second to none,” T.J. Rooney, chairman of the campaign, said in a statement.

Rooney himself is the former head of the state Democratic Party. The campaign’s pollster, Fred Yang, is a much-decorated pollster with years of experience in Democratic campaigns. Last week, the McGinty campaign hired J.J. Johnston as senior adviser for labor issues. He was executive director of the SEIU council in Pennsylvania and eventually became the chief of staff of the international at its headquarters in Washington.

Running McGinty’s campaign day-to-day is Mike Mikus. He has managed the campaigns of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, former Rep. Mark Critz and former Rep. Jason Altmire; the latter two won in swing districts in western Pennsylvania, often inhospitable territory for Democrats in recent years.

Mikus could prove an important regional connection for McGinty in a race in which all of the major candidates hail from the southeast and central Pennsylvania.

A plethora of Democrats is running for the party’s nomination for governor, attracted in part by Gov. Corbett’s historically low approval ratings. In addition to McGinty, who was environmental protection secretary in the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell, there are: U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz; state Treasurer Rob McCord; businessman Tom Wolf of York, who was revenue secretary under Rendell; John Hanger, who also was the top environmental regulator for Rendell; and Max Myers, a minister from Cumberland County.