Some thoughts on Pa.'s very-contested Senate race

Campaign 2016 Koch Ground Game
Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate candidates: Democrat Katie McGinty and incumbent Republican Pat Toomey.

You're sick of it, right?

All the ads painting Pat Toomey as a Wall Streeter who doesn't care about you. All the ads saying Katie McGinty's an ethical mess just out for herself.

You want it to end, huh?

Hang in there. Clock's ticking. Ads and campaigns soon will be gone.

But understand: This marquee U.S. Senate race is more than its noise and images might lead you to believe.

First, it's yuge.

It's branded with the imprint of Donald Trump - as in whether Toomey's wise to stay "stuck" (his word) on the question of voting for Trump now that it seems a majority of Pennsylvanians will not.

Toomey's, um, stance, drew direct fire over the weekend from presumptive-president Hillary Clinton who asked Pennsylvania voters: if Toomey doesn't have "the courage" to stand up to Trump "can you be sure he'll stand up for you?"

An easy, empty, partisan line, sure. Just further evidence how much Democrats want Toomey's seat, since it might give them Senate control.

And that's why the race is costing more than any in Pennsylvania ever: $100 million, maybe more, maybe even the most in history.

(The most spent for a seat in Congress was the 2014 North Carolina Senate race: $113 million. Republican Thom Tillis beat Democrat Kay Hagan by 1.7 percent.)

And it's the first Pennsylvania race I, and other longtime watchers of state politics,recall getting editorial attention from the New York Times.

The newspaper on Friday endorsed McGinty as a "better choice for anyone concerned about social and economic fairness."

Which means social and economic fairness as defined by the New York Times.

And as one wag offers, "Everyone reading the Times in this state already is voting for Katie, and I'll bet she won't show that endorsement in central or western Pa."

That, in a nutshell, is why the race is close. There are two Pennsylvanias.

There's McGinty's: environment-oriented, pro-choice, supports more spending for child care, education, etc., and an increased minimum wage.

There's Toomey's: business-oriented, pro-life, opposes government regulations, thinks a minimum-wage hike kills jobs.

There's the fact Toomey's a national figure as a unique Republican who sought compromise on background checks for guns.

And McGinty, though untested, is policy-savvy, clearly a fighter, and a better candidate today than when this campaign began.

Also, despite their characterization in TV ads, both are sensible, serious people genuinely interested in public service, a fact that can fall through the cracks of a rough-shaken campaign.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Toomey up 1.8 percent. This is a tribute since Toomey runs with Trump around his neck in a Democratic state.

But McGinty's folks say an "unprecedented" coordinated Democratic ground game will make the difference Election Day.

And maybe that's true.

Just don't view this as a "change election." Yeah, it could result in the state's first female senator, and that would be a change. But in terms of policy? Not so much.

The Senate has a longstanding rule requiring 60 votes to pass any legislation (by banning filibusters), which explains why so little gets done in Washington.

The most optimistic Democratic scenarios suggest new majority control with 51 to 53 seats. No one predicts a 60-seat supermajority.

So even if Democrats win the Senate (and even, by some miracle, the House), the 60-vote rule likely thwarts the Democratic agenda.

It's not an anti-establishment election either. Both candidates support principle tenets of their parties.

But it is a statement election, a statement on what government should and should not do. She wants more. He wants less. Your choice.

The last debate is Monday night, scheduled live on WPVI-6ABC at 7 p.m.

Watch. Even if you're sick of it.

baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer