BACKGROUNDER: Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s Likely Run for Governor
A recent Democratic Governors’ Association poll found that U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz could be in striking distance to take the governor’s mansion in 2014. And that’s got some Harrisburg politicos ready to support her potential candidacy, should it come to fruition. According to PoliticsPA, the DGA found Schwartz leading Gov. Tom Corbett—who’s currently polling at an all-time low—by eight points in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up, and her numbers are even better when respondents are given a positive profile of the Philadelphia/MontCo politician and a negative one of the governor. So here are some tidbits you may want to know about Schwartz before she decides (a Montgomery County Democratic operative says she’s “80 percent in”) whether she’ll run to head off the governor’s hateful rule.
Allyson Schwartz may represent you. Most of Schwartz’s district is in Montgomery County, where she represents places like Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, Flourtown, Willow Grove, Horsham and Montgomeryville. But guess what: She’s also got parts of Northeast and North Philadelphia in her grasp—places like Olney, Oxford Circle, Bustleton, Torresdale, Cheltenham, Fox Chase. Her district sits alongside U.S. Rep. Bob Brady’s Delaware River coastal edge of Northeast Philadelphia. She’s often noted that she’s proud to represent a large portion of the city’s police officers, many of whom live in the Northeast.
She’s been involved in Philly politics for more than two decades. Schwartz was first elected to the Pennsylvania state Senate in 1990, where she represented parts of Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia. In 1991, the district was rewritten to include parts of Montgomery County—but she continued residence in Philadelphia. It was only in 2004, when she was gearing up for a run to represent parts of Philly and Montgomery County in Washington that she moved her residence to Jenkintown.
Before that, she ran a women’s health clinic. In 1975, Schwartz opened Philadelphia’s first women’s health center, serving as its executive director until 1988. She then served as acting commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services for two years.
She’s likely the most powerful female politician in the region. Schwartz served as the national chair for recruitment and candidate services for the Democratic National Committee during the 2012 election cycle. She was recently tapped to be the finance chair. Back in December, RollCall called her a “prolific fundraiser” who “has been deeply involved in DCCC recruiting.”
She’s not fond of dick pix. Schwartz was the first Democratic member of the U.S. House to call on former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-umbass) to step down after photos of his erect penis emerged on the Internet.
She’s an extreme moderate. It’s no surprise, based on her voting record, that Schwartz is a member of what’s called the New Democrat Coalition, which, like New Democrat Bill Clinton before it, describes itself as pro-“growth” and moderate. Her recruiting efforts have often focused on other moderate Democrats, who, after all, are less scary to those outside big cities than their more vocally liberal counterparts.
Healthcare is sort of her thing. Mayor Nutter (at least) once called her the United States’ “health care Congresswoman.” Chair of the New Democrat Taskforce on Health, she’s actually pushed for more digitizing of medicine prescribing, saying it’d decrease medical errors. Last month she participated in a Medicaid roundtable organized by state Sen. Vincent Hughes, where she called the governor’s rejection of a state-run health care exchange a “disappointment” and “lost opportunity”—but didn’t have much to say regarding the Medicaid expansion. [UPDATE: Although, it should be noted that she slammed Gov. Corbett for rejecting Medicaid in his budget address last week, and says she supports the expansion.]
Although some on the left don’t trust her on health care issues. A Keystone Politics report titled “At This Time, Allyson Schwartz Cannot Be Trusted on Obamacare Implementation” notes: “She has vocally opposed all the Obamacare policies that would actually bring the prices down—IPAB (which she eventually caved on), provider taxes, and the medical device tax.” Author Jon Geeting additionally notes she’s given “cover” to Republicans who seek to make prices higher (and, as is their M.O., will then claim the entire system then does not work.)
She was challenged by an “Occupy” candidate in the 2012 Democratic primary. The candidate, Nathan Kleinman, had many of the same criticisms as those leveled by Keystone Politics. She got him to withdraw from the ballot. He ran as a write-in candidate. He lost.
She would be Pennsylvania’s first female governor. But we have a long way to go until then.