Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord took his first public step in signaling that he intends to run for governor.
According to a state authorization form obtained by Hardball, McCord on Tuesday filed paperwork to create the "McCord for Governor" political action committee, one of the clearest signs yet that the state treasurer has his eyes on challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Establishing the committee allows him to accept campaign contributions for next year's race.
"This new committee is a reflection of the fact that, over the last few months, Rob has heard from voters and community leaders from around the state that they want a change in Harrisburg, and he's putting the pieces in place to deliver that change," said Mark Nevins, who advised Hillary Clinton in her successful primary campaign in Pennsylvania in 2008. "The fact is, we can't keep electing professional, career politicians and expect things to be different. As a business leader, not a career politician, Rob is uniquely qualified to deliver real results," said Nevins, who is advising McCord.
McCord would face a crowded Democratic primary, which includes prolific fundraiser Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, who's vying to be the state's first female Governor. Schwartz officially launched her campaign in early April and has since traveled the state, courting labor endorsements and raising money. The field also includes former state environmental protection chiefs John Hanger and Kate McGinty and businessman Tom Wolf, a former state revenue secretary, who has pledged $10 million of his own money.
"Rob has always had an incredible drive and intellect," said former U.S. House Majority Whip Tony Coelho, a friend of McCord. "He is going to be a very strong primary and general election candidate and is by far one of the best campaigners and fundraisers in the state," said Coelho.
Nevins statement signals that McCord intends to run on his record in business and as a political outsider versus Schwartz, a former state legislator who currently represents Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll on the race, Schwartz leads the current field with 18% and McCord topping out at 5% --but 63% of respondents are undecided. Both Schwartz and McCord would be strong rivals to take on Corbett, who has a meager job approval rating of 48% and personal favorable rating of just 35%. Schwartz and McCord lead Corbett by 10 and 8 points respectively in potential head-to-head match ups.
In 2008 and 2012, President Obama won the state convincingly with nearly 6 million Pennsylvanians turning out to vote. But in the 2010 midterms, nearly 2 million fewer voters participated, and the state elected a Republican governor and senator. Both Schwartz and McCord will have an uphill climb as they try to become the first challenger to defeat an incumbent governor in the state's history in a traditionally low voter turnout election season.