Schwartz sends another signal about run

Read­ing the signs: Last week, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz resigned as fin­ance chair­wo­man of the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. TIMES FILE PHOTO

There have been strong signs over the last few months that U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz was inch­ing to­ward a run for gov­ernor next year.

Schwartz hired the state Demo­crat­ic Party’s fin­ance dir­ect­or. Her cam­paign team se­cured web­site ad­dresses that would come in handy in a run for gov­ernor. And she took the state’s Teach­er of the Year — from faraway Jef­fer­son County — to Pres­id­ent Obama’s State of the Uni­on ad­dress.

Last week, though, she gave the clearest in­dic­a­tion yet that she wanted a shot at Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Tom Corbett when she resigned as fin­ance chair­wo­man of  the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee.

No form­al an­nounce­ment is pending, but Rachel Mag­nuson, the con­gress­wo­man’s chief of staff, said Schwartz has re­ceived of­fers of sup­port from across the state.

“She ap­pre­ci­ates that sup­port,” Mag­nuson said.

Schwartz, 64, who served in the state Sen­ate for 14 years be­fore join­ing Con­gress in 2005, already has a little more than $3 mil­lion in her con­gres­sion­al cam­paign ac­count that can be used for a run for gov­ernor. In ad­di­tion, U.S. Sen. Bob Ca­sey Jr. is throw­ing a fun­draiser for her later this month at a Pitt­ston res­taur­ant.

Two Demo­crats have an­nounced cam­paigns: John Hanger, former sec­ret­ary of the De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion, and Max My­ers, a pas­tor, busi­ness­man and au­thor from Cum­ber­land County.

Oth­er Demo­crats said to be in­ter­ested in the race in­clude state Sen. Mike Stack; former con­gress­man Joe Ses­tak; State Treas­urer Rob Mc­Cord; and Tom Wolf, former sec­ret­ary of the state De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue.

Corbett, mean­while, is plagued by low ap­prov­al rat­ings in voter sur­veys.

If Schwartz an­nounces a run for gov­ernor, there will be a scramble for her 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict seat. The dis­trict is about evenly split between Phil­adelphia and Mont­gomery County. Demo­crats would be heav­ily favored to re­tain the seat.

Here are some of the rumored Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates for the seat: state Reps. Brendan Boyle and Mark Co­hen; state Sens. Stack, Daylin Leach and LeAnna Wash­ing­ton; former City Con­trol­ler Jonath­an Saidel; Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­er Josh Sha­piro; and Dr. Val Arkoosh, a health care re­form ad­voc­ate.

Geo­graphy could play a role. No North­east res­id­ent has served in Con­gress since Bob Bor­ski re­tired in 2002. Mean­while, Mont­gomery County is chopped up in­to six con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts. Schwartz, though, is the only Mont­gomery County res­id­ent in the House.

Gender could be a con­sid­er­a­tion, too. Schwartz is the only wo­man in Pennsylvania’s 20-per­son Sen­ate and House del­eg­a­tion.

Co­hen, who was elec­ted to the state House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives in 1974, chal­lenged in­cum­bent Demo­crat­ic U.S. Rep. Josh Eil­berg in the 1978 primary in the old 4th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict. He an­nounced a run for Con­gress in 2004 when Demo­crat­ic Rep. Joe Hoef­fel de­cided to run for Sen­ate, but dropped out when he couldn’t raise the money to com­pete with Schwartz and Joe Torsella.

This year, Co­hen, a Castor Gar­dens res­id­ent, said he’ll de­cide wheth­er to run based on the money and sup­port that ma­ter­i­al­izes.

“I’m among many people tak­ing a look at it. There are huge num­bers of people in­ter­ested in run­ning. The num­ber of po­ten­tial can­did­ates is end­less,” he said.

Boyle, of Somer­ton, was elec­ted to the state House in 2008, eas­ily won re-elec­tion in 2010 and has such a sol­id grip on the seat that he was un­op­posed last year. He’d likely re­ceive con­sid­er­able uni­on sup­port in a bid for Con­gress.

“I am very, very in­ter­ested and very likely to make an an­nounce­ment shortly after Allyson an­nounces her in­ten­tions,” he said.

Leach and Wash­ing­ton live just out­side the con­gres­sion­al dis­trict’s bound­ar­ies, but state law does not pro­hib­it res­id­ents from run­ning for a House seat in an­oth­er dis­trict.

Stack, of Somer­ton, would seem like a nat­ur­al can­did­ate. He’s been in of­fice since 2001 and has rep­res­en­ted more of the dis­trict than his state le­gis­lat­ive col­leagues. His grand­fath­er served two terms in Con­gress in the 1930s, and he wouldn’t have to give up his seat since he’d be mid­way through a four-year term in 2014.

However, Stack con­tin­ues to fo­cus on a cam­paign for gov­ernor. He be­lieves Schwartz is do­ing a good job in Con­gress and can best serve Pennsylvania in that role.

Stack has already battled Corbett on is­sues such as fund­ing for health care and pub­lic and high­er edu­ca­tion, and he be­lieves he’s the kind of mod­er­ate can­did­ate who can knock off the in­cum­bent. Schwartz, who once ran a clin­ic that per­formed abor­tions, is per­ceived by some as too lib­er­al.

“I have the best pro­file to win statewide,” Stack said.

Stack stressed that the jock­ey­ing for both races has only just be­gun.

“Let’s just see how this pro­cess plays out,” he said.

Saidel, of Bustleton, served as city con­trol­ler from 1990 to 2005. He entered the 2007 may­or­al race, but ex­ited quickly when U.S. Rep. Bob Brady an­nounced a bid. He lost the 2010 Demo­crat­ic primary for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor. Today, he works for the Cen­ter City law firm of Co­hen, Pla­citella & Roth and is fin­ance chair­man for the Demo­crat­ic City Com­mit­tee.

Saidel be­lieves it is im­prop­er to be act­ively cam­paign­ing for Schwartz’s seat when she hasn’t even an­nounced she’s giv­ing it up. He and Mont­gomery County Demo­crat­ic Com­mit­tee boss Mar­cel Groen were Schwartz’s co-chair­men when she first ran for Con­gress in 2004.

“It’s pre­ma­ture to be beat­ing on a door that might not open,” he said. “We need to give her time to make a de­cision.”

Saidel has kind words for Sha­piro, the Mont­gomery County com­mis­sion­er, say­ing that he has a great fu­ture and would be a good con­gress­man.

“If Josh de­cided to run, I’ll en­dorse Josh,” he said.

However, some party lead­ers un­sure of Sha­piro’s think­ing want Saidel to keep his op­tions open. At age 61, he wouldn’t be look­ing at the seat as a step­ping­stone, he said, giv­ing him the abil­ity to com­pletely fo­cus on help­ing the dis­trict.

Saidel said his fa­vor­ab­il­ity num­bers are high in the city por­tion of the dis­trict, and people have asked him to con­sider a bid.

“I told them I would think about it,” he said. ••

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

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