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Politics and Government

Senate Candidates Debate At WPSU As Primary Day Nears

Candidates at table
Emily Reddy

The Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate answered students’ questions in a debate on the Penn State campus Saturday night. 

With just over two weeks left until the primary election and amid tightening polls, candidates pushed their platforms in a debate at the WPSU studios in State College. The candidates often agreed when answering students’ questions on topics ranging from education to free trade to campaign finance reform.

Katie McGinty touted her experience creating green jobs as head of the Pennsylvania DEP under Governor Ed Rendell. She said as a US Senator she’d push for major investments in infrastructure.

“You know we just had two people killed, another Amtrak derailment," McGinty said. "Let’s marshal congress to invest in that infrastructure and make sure we’ve got a modern economy that can create good jobs and put people to work building that.”

All three candidates said income inequality is an issue. Braddock mayor John Fetterman, who has been compared to Bernie Sanders, said “the deck is stacked” and pointed to the Panama Papers as an example.

“It’s like this whole shell game, this international shell game," Fetterman said, "where if you know the right people, you make enough money, you get to have your own off-shore company and you get to hide your income and you don’t have to avoid paying taxes. It’s a fundamentally rigged economy.”

Joe Sestak, who’s leading in the polls, said his time in Congress taught him how to work across the aisle and to make people feel like they’d been heard.

He held open office hours on Saturdays for constituents who wrote in with concerns.

“We would go back to them and say, ‘Got a care? Come on in at 8 o’clock Saturday morning, I’ll sit down and discuss it with you.’" Sestak said. "We didn’t just say no. Just ‘let’s go down and talk about it.’”

The primary election is April 26.

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