Twenty years after her Republican colleagues jumped up and down on the House floor, yelling “Bye-bye, Marjorie,” Marjorie Margolies is launching a political comeback.
Margolies, 70, on Thursday entered a bid to recapture her old congressional seat in Pennsylvania’s 13th District, which is being vacated by current Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat who is running for governor. “The response has been extraordinary,” Margolies said. “Reactions have been so incredibly warm.”
A few things have changed since the former congresswoman was defeated in a brutal midterm election for Democrats across the country in 1994. Margolies has dropped her married name Mezvinsky after she divorced her husband Ed, also a former member of Congress, who was indicted and later pleaded guilty to charges of bank, mail, and wire fraud in 2001. Margolies’ district also is no longer a marginal district like it was back when she represented the wealthy Philadelphia suburbs—it has since been redrawn as a safe Democratic seat.
More interesting, perhaps, is Margolies’ ties to the former Democratic president Bill Clinton. Margolies’ son, Marc Mezvinsky, is married to Chelsea Clinton. But the former congresswoman would not comment on specific conversations with family except to say that all of her children are extremely supportive. “They’re also protective,” she said. “They know exactly how tough these things are.”
Margolies was a close confidante of the Clintons when they were in the White House and—after Dems convinced her—cast the deciding vote for Clinton’s 1993 budget. She immediately came under fire from Republicans who rightly surmised she would lose her then-conservative district. “I had no idea that when I voted for the Clinton budget, I was writing the first line of my obituary,” Margolies wrote in a March 18, 2010 op-ed in the Washington Post. ”I believed then and now that being able to point to something tangible that changed our country for the better was a more powerful motivator than the possible electoral repercussions,” she wrote.
Several questions regarding the Clintons remain in what’s expected to be a crowded primary. Already five others have thrown their hat into race including physician Valerie Arkoosh, state Rep. Brendan Boyle, and state Sen. Daylin Leach. Can we expect the former first daughter to stump for her mother-in-law in northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County? Will the Clinton family return the favor for Margolies’ crucial ‘93 vote (without which Clinton’s budget would not have passed). Can they help clear the crowded Democratic field and raise money for the Pennsylvania Democrat nearly two decades after her ouster?
The Clinton factor remains the biggest X factor in this primary. “I never ran on Bill Clinton’s coattails in the primaries I’ve won in the past and I have no intention on doing that now,” Margolies said.
She told Hardball’s Chris Matthews on Thursday that she isn’t afraid to cast a tough vote and as a woman, she’d bring a different perspective to Congress. “We–women–bring a different view to the table. Period. And we’re very underrepresented,” said Margolies.
“I’d be very surprised if Marjorie wasn’t the favorite,” said one very prominent Keystone State Democrat with close ties to all of the candidates in the race.
Meanwhile, Schwartz’s gubernatorial Campaign has said that the Congresswoman has no plans to endorse any of the candidates running for her seat at this time.