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Pa. Democratic Party Chairman Burn to oppose Wolf's pick for seat

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, June 12, 2014, 2:24 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn said on Thursday that he is prepared to defend a challenge from Katie McGinty, the handpicked candidate of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf for the job.

Win or lose, Burn said, he'll accept the decision of the state committee when it chooses a chairman at its June 21 meeting in Camp Hill, but argued that the party has prospered under his four years of leadership and is highly regarded in national political circles.

He said he wants to give the committee a choice.

“We have a stable operation with a proven record of success, and I see no reason to mess with a successful formula,” said Burn, 51, of Millvale.

On Wednesday, Wolf endorsed McGinty, a former state environmental protection secretary who finished fourth in the four-way Democratic primary race, for the party chairmanship, and he backed state Rep. Jake Wheatley of the Hill District for the vice chairman slot.

Wolf is challenging Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's re-election bid in the Nov. 4 election.

In his email to committee members, Wolf wrote that he appreciates “the great work Jim Burn has done building the party and electing Democrats” and promised he would be involved in future party activities.

“Katie and Jake are the people who I want by my side, fighting for our values and enthusiastically defending the Pennsylvania Democratic Party,” Wolf said.

The upcoming vote on a new chairman is comparable to the competitive situation that led to Burn, then the head of the Allegheny County Democrats, taking the party's helm in 2010.

Multiple candidates expressed interest in the chairmanship, including one favored by gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato, then the Allegheny County executive. In the end, Onorato remained neutral and the other candidates dropped out.

“The party chose for itself, and they elected me,” said Burn, a former Allegheny County councilman and former Millvale mayor.

A Wolf campaign spokesman said it had no comment on Burn's candidacy.

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