U.S. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) will run for governor of Pennsylvania against Republican incumbent Tom Corbett in 2014.
Schwartz has established a state campaign committee, "Pennsylvania for Allyson," which will allow her to raise money for her run and transfer the $3.1 million she's already amassed from her Congressional account to the new one.
"I am running because I can't sit on the sidelines when I have a proven track record of getting results on the issues that matter -- growing jobs in the private sector, investing in education, and making the tough choices on budget issues," Schwartz said in a statement. "That's what our campaign will be about."
Pennsylvania's unemployment rate has been higher than the national average since September; in February it hovered at 8.1 %. According to a Franklin and Marshall poll that came out last month, Corbett’s approval numbers were the lowest scored in the history of the poll.
“He’s just missing in action most of the time,” the five-term Democrat said of Corbett to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “What I’m hearing from people around the state is that they know we need a fresh perspective about the economy and growth," she said.
Schwartz, 64, is looking to make history and become the first woman governor of Pennsylvania and also the first challenger to defeat an incumbent governor. Corbett remains one of the most unpopular sitting governors in the country.
"If anyone can do it, Allyson can," said Lynn Yeakel, who came up short in her challenge to Arlen Specter in 1992.
EMILY's List, a progressive group that supports pro-choice women candidates has worked with Schwartz since her days in the Pennsylvania State Senate and they plan to go in big against Corbett, who defended a mandatory ultra-sound bill last March by telling women they "just have to close your eyes."
"Allyson has been part of the EMILY’s List family for over a decade and we could not be more excited about her campaign," said the president of EMILY's List, Stephanie Schriock. "Not only would she make history as Pennsylvania’s first female governor, she would provide a clear contrast to Gov. Corbett, who has led a crusade against women and families while putting job-creation on the back burner," said Schriock.
The Montgomery County Democrat is known for being a leading women's rights and pro-choice champion and twice voted against Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Schwartz herself was the Executive Director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Center for Women's Health in Philadelphia in the 70's and 80's prior to being appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.
Schwartz is far from a lock in the Democratic Primary as other viable candidates have expressed interest in ousting Corbett in 2014 as well. Last week, wealthy York businessman Tom Wolf announced his plans to mount a campaign for the state's top job. "I'm in," Wolf declared in a draft of an e-mail going to supporters Tuesday that was obtained by The Associated Press, ending speculation about his intentions.
Wolf pledged that he would put in $10 million of his own money and plans to raise an additional $5 million to win the Democratic nomination. This kind of campaign budget drastically alters the political landscape. "This kind of money makes him a very formidable candidate," said one Democratic strategist who runs statewide campaigns in Pennsylvania. "It gives him a leg up."
State Treasurer Rob McCord, former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and state Sen. Mike Stack are some of the other Democrats considering campaigns for the office.
A source familiar with the Schwartz campaign reiterated her "prolific" fundraising skills and ability to attract voters from all regions of the state.
"She is an experienced leader with an incredible track record of putting Pennsylvania women and families first," Schriock said.