The Erin McClelland campaign, which is trying to mount a challenge to incumbent tea-party Congressman Keith Rothfus, announced this afternoon an endorsement from Vice President Joe Biden.
"Erin McClelland will bring new leadership to Washington, work to create jobs, ensure equal pay for women, and expand access to affordable education," a press release quotes Biden as saying. "The people of Pennsylvania are looking for a change from this reckless Republican Congress, and Erin McClelland will always put the middle class first."
The endorsement probably won't help the McClelland campaign much: As I reported last week, the race doesn't appear to be close, even though the district was among the most competitive in the country in 2012.
What is interesting about the endorsement, though, is what it confirms about Obama's unpopularity in the district. "The McClelland people probably figure that Biden is a better surrogate for them in that district than the president is,” says Kyle Kondik, a Rust Belt native with the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Still, with just about $50,000 cash on hand compared with Rothfus' $1 million, "Far more valuable than an endorsement [for McClelland] would be the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] putting $2 million into Pittsburgh television," Kondik says.
The endorsement coincides with two new TV ads from team Rothfus, neither of which mention McClelland or the fact that he's running for re-election — another possible indicator Rothfus isn't expecting a strong challenge.
The full release after the jump.
ASPINWALL, PA — Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Democratic nominee Erin McClelland for Congress in her race against tea party incumbent Keith Rothfus in Pennsylvania’s 12th District.
"I am proud to support Erin McClelland, who will be a voice for Pennsylvania's middle class families and stand up to Republicans' plan to stack the deck for wealthy special interests,” Biden said. “Erin McClelland will bring new leadership to Washington, work to create jobs, ensure equal pay for women, and expand access to affordable education. The people of Pennsylvania are looking for a change from this reckless Republican Congress, and Erin McClelland will always put the middle class first."
Born and raised in Scranton, Biden is the 47th Vice President of the United States.
“I’m honored to have Vice President Biden’s support,” McClelland said. “Joe Biden knows what it’s like to grow up working class in Pennsylvania, and he knows what it takes to get work done in Washington. I look forward to defending his signature legislation — the Violence Against Women Act — as a member of Congress.”
McClelland recently participated in two debates against her opponent, who voted last year against strengthening the Violence Against Women Act. A third debate is scheduled for later this month.