PITTSBURGH — Katie McGinty and Pat Toomey — the candidates for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat — both have made a lot of money in business. Both have also passed between business and government. They both accuse the other of unseemly closeness to corporate interests.

McGinty’s view is this: she’s friendly with the good big businesses, because they’re green-energy companies; Toomey is friendly with the bad big businesses because they’re fossil fuel companies.

Toomey has a different framework. He cheers for companies that make money through market competition, and frowns on those that depend on mandates and subsidies.

“I don’t like handouts to any industry,” Toomey said at an energy forum in Pittsburgh Tuesday morning. “I’m actually the tip of the spear in fighting” against the ethanol mandate and the sugar program, Toomey said. “I don’t support the Production Tax Credit,” Toomey said. The host of the event, the Consumer Energy Alliance, counts among its members the Southeastern Wind Coalition, the Agriculture Energy Alliance, the Houston Renewable Energy Network, and other companies that support these subsidies.

Toomey ties corporate subsidies directly to cronyism.

“Katie McGinty’s energy policy,” Toomey said at the forum, “was to funnel millions of dollars to a Spanish company, lure them to set up shop in Pennsylvania. They did. They got the money. They rewarded her with a very lucrative board seat on an affiliated company. And then despite all the subsidies, the company went out of business, all the Pennsylvania workers lost their jobs. Pennsylvania taxpayers lost their money. … Everybody lost out except Katie McGinty. That kind of kind of crony capitalism — that is the last thing we should have.”

Toomey’s right about McGinty. McGinty left the Clinton-Gore White House in 1998 and joined a lobbing firm where her lobbying client was a company lobbying to get out from under a regulation her administration had helped write.

McGinty cashed out of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection a few years later and immediately took a six-figure board seat at a wind company she had helped subsidize. There’s more there. In short, she’s a revolving-door lobbyist who gets rich off the companies she subsidizes.

She has fought tirelessly to avoid and delay releasing her public records — the emails from when she was in state government.

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Toomey, while he often sides with corporations opposing regulation, has consistently voted against corporate welfare. He’s often actually led that fight. He’s the point man, as he says, on fighting against the ethanol mandate. He’s been a leader on opposing the Export-Import Bank. He’s against the sugar program. He’s with Marco Rubio on protecting taxpayers from Obamacare’s bailout of insurers.

In this way, Toomey vs. McGinty reflects some of the future shifts of the parties. Especially as Chuck Schumer takes control of Senate Democrats, and if Hillary Clinton moves into the White House, you will have an explicitly corporatist Democratic Party. A GOP that tries to outbid Dems for corporate handouts will always lose. The way forward may be explicit opposition to handouts, even when it upsets one’s friends and donors.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.

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