Schwartz discusses decision to run for governor

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz said Monday she de­cided to enter the gov­ernor’s race, even though his­tory is not on her side, be­cause she thinks Gov. Tom Corbett’s eco­nom­ic and edu­ca­tion policies have failed the cit­izens of this state.

Schwartz (D-13th dist.) is serving her fifth two-year term, holds a safe seat, serves on the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee and was plan­ning to be fin­ance chair­wo­man of the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2014 elec­tion cycle.

“I’m giv­ing up a job I like,” said Schwartz, whose House term ex­pires at the end of next year. “I work hard at the job on be­half of North­east Phil­adelphia and Mont­gomery County.”

Corbett, a Re­pub­lic­an, was elec­ted in 2010, but has been plagued by low voter-ap­prov­al num­bers in sur­veys.

Still, he’ll be well fun­ded and has his­tory on his side. Since the 1968 Pennsylvania Con­sti­tu­tion al­lowed gov­ernors to run for a second term, all of them — Milton Shapp, Dick Thorn­burgh, Bob Ca­sey, Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell — have been re-elec­ted.

Schwartz thinks Corbett has failed so far, but was mind­ful of the power of in­cum­bency.

“Should we wait an­oth­er four years?” she asked.

In the end, Schwartz de­cided to try to make Corbett a one-term gov­ernor.

“I want to bring my skills and ex­per­i­ence on be­half of all Pennsylvani­ans,” she said. “People know I’ll stand up for them.”

In the race, she’ll be able to use the $3 mil­lion or so she had in her con­gres­sion­al ac­count.

If Schwartz — the only wo­man in the Pennsylvania con­gres­sion­al del­eg­a­tion — thought she could clear the field of Demo­crats, it didn’t hap­pen.

At least four oth­ers have of­fi­cially entered the race. They are Tom Wolf, a wealthy York County busi­ness­man and former sec­ret­ary of the state De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue; Max My­ers, a pas­tor, busi­ness­man and au­thor from Cum­ber­land County; Katie Mc­Ginty, a Rhawn­hurst nat­ive who served as sec­ret­ary of the state De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion; and John Hanger, a former DEP sec­ret­ary.

Oth­er pos­sible can­did­ates in­clude state Sens. Mike Stack and Tim So­lobay; state Treas­urer Rob Mc­Cord; Al­lentown May­or Ed Pawlowski; and former con­gress­man Joe Ses­tak.

Schwartz de­clined to dis­cuss her primary op­pon­ents in de­tail.

“We have very dif­fer­ent ex­per­i­ences,” she said in an af­ter­noon tele­phone call en route to Wash­ing­ton for even­ing votes.

Be­fore en­ter­ing polit­ics, Schwartz, 64, foun­ded the Eliza­beth Black­well Health Cen­ter and served as com­mis­sion­er of the city De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices.

Some Demo­crats have pub­licly and privately con­ten­ded that Schwartz isn’t the strongest Demo­crat to op­pose Corbett, point­ing to her days at the health cen­ter, where abor­tions were per­formed. That back­ground could hurt her in Cent­ral Pennsylvania and oth­er con­ser­vat­ive areas of the state.

Corbett is pro-life, and a race between him and Schwartz would re­veal clear dif­fer­ences on so­cial is­sues.

“There is a sharp con­trast with the gov­ernor,” she said.

Schwartz rep­res­en­ted North­w­est Phil­adelphia and por­tions of the North­east and east­ern Mont­gomery County in the Pennsylvania Sen­ate from 1991 to 2004, when she was elec­ted to Con­gress.

In the Sen­ate, she spent a dec­ade as the Demo­crat­ic Party chair­wo­man of the Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee. Today, she faults Corbett for budget cuts to high­er edu­ca­tion.

In Con­gress, her dis­trict is di­vided between Phil­adelphia and Mont­gomery County.

Loc­ally, she’s fo­cused on is­sues such as bring­ing fed­er­al dol­lars to make Roosevelt Boulevard safer for mo­tor­ists and ped­es­tri­ans and to re­vital­ize the North Delaware River wa­ter­front.

“I’ve made a strong con­nec­tion to North­east Phil­adelphia and Mont­gomery County,” she said.

In ad­di­tion, she has worked on vet­er­ans is­sues. Pres­id­ent George W. Bush signed her bill that gives tax cred­its to busi­nesses that hire vet­er­ans of the wars in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan.

Schwartz wor­ries that Pennsylvania isn’t keep­ing up with the rest of the na­tion. The U.S. has a stub­bornly high un­em­ploy­ment rate of 7.6 per­cent, and Pennsylvania’s is even high­er, at 8.1 per­cent.

The can­did­ate be­lieves the state eco­nomy can re­bound by in­vest­ing in uni­versit­ies, hos­pit­als and the nat­ur­al gas in­dustry.

“Jobs and eco­nom­ic growth are the top pri­or­it­ies. I do not want to see Pennsylvania not be able to take ad­vant­age of eco­nom­ic growth,” she said.

Schwartz claims to have “a strong know­ledge of the state” and will be look­ing for votes in all corners of Pennsylvania.

Most of the con­firmed or rumored can­did­ates in the primary are from the east­ern part of the state, mean­ing the win­ner could be the one who relates best to res­id­ents of oth­er areas of Pennsylvania.

“I’m well known in the South­east, but I will be out and about quite a bit in Phil­adelphia, the sub­urbs and across the state,” she said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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