Katie McGinty talks with press on Election Day.

Barack Obama wanted Katie McGinty to win. Governor Tom Wolf and former Governor Ed Rendell did, too. Same with nearly every prominent Democrat in the state.

And it happened. Katie McGinty finally happened. She defeated former Congressman Joe Sestak and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman with close to 45 percent of the statewide vote and nearly 50 percent of the vote in Philadelphia. 

During her victory speech in South Philadelphia, McGinty called Sestak’s and Fetterman’s campaigns “principled.”

There was plenty of reason to fear Sestak would beat McGinty. For one thing, he showed in 2010 he could defeat the establishment’s candidate with his victory against Arlen Specter. And for another, he was faring better than McGinty in most polls. Two from earlier this month showed him enjoying a near double-digit lead. Only in the last week did it seem like all the endorsements and commercials were doing McGinty some good, when three polls showed her with a slim lead and another in a tie with Sestak.

Though McGinty has been in politics since the Clinton administration — she was the leader of the White House Council on Environmental Quality — this is her first election victory. After her time with Clinton, McGinty had moved on to the private sector, working in India at one point. Her first foray back into public life was a failure. She finished last in the Democratic Primary while running for governor in 2014. Her senate campaign has focused on working-class families, the type she grew up in (her father was a Philly cop, her mother a hostess at Dugan’s Banquet Restaurant on Roosevelt Boulevard).

McGinty and the Democrats put everything they had into ensuring she would win this election. It worked. Now they have to do the same thing again while trying to defeat Toomey in the fall.

Mark Dent is a reporter/curator at BillyPenn. He previously worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he covered the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football and the Penn State administration. His...