By Mark Segal
This is not a political endorsement… Great way to start a column, but the truth is we really want to make a point that seems to be missing among Pennsylvania political pundits: Although most are writing her off, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz would most likely be one of the strongest candidates to challenge current Gov. Tom Corbett. Maybe pundits look at her as a liberal Jewish woman and see those attributes as a hindrance. Let’s look at each of those points.
Religion is often used in describing Pennsylvania, which is often characterized as a conservative Christian state. You’ve heard the now-famous quote from CNN political pundit James Carville: “Pennsylvania has Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other and Alabama in the middle.”
Well, that Christian state has not once but twice elected Jewish governors: Milton Shapp in the 1970s and Ed Rendell just six years ago. And throughout the state, there are countless other Jewish elected officials. So much for that issue.
That conservative state elected Rendell and recently went for a guy named Barack Obama, who many in that Alabama part of the state might consider more than liberal.
And as for being a woman, we’ve had a popular woman as lieutenant governor, Catherine Knoll, in office from 2003 until her death five years later. When she ran for that post, she topped the field. Barbara Hafer was state treasurer, and we just elected the state’s first female attorney general.
Anyone who knows Pennsylvania knows that, in order for any Democrat to win, he or she has to really roll up the numbers in the five-county Philadelphia area. The first serious woman candidate for governor, Schwartz has a strong Philadelphia-area base and could possibly match Rendell’s high numbers from the area.
Lastly, the question, why would she leave Congress? The truth is that it might very well be a while before the Democrats are the majority in the U.S. House again. And unless you’re in the majority party, there is not much out there for you. Especially in a House that is so partisan.
As I said, this is not an endorsement, especially since there are many others in the Democratic field. And many are very attractive candidates with impeccable credentials and résumés. Ah, you might say, what about the Republicans? Well, the governor hasn’t announced if he’ll run and if he does, it seems like he might have a challenge in his own party, something unusual for a sitting governor. That points out something about the current governor, and why Democrats are lining up to challenge him. But I caution those challengers. Rendell was also unpopular when he began his campaign for re-election.
If you think I’m off, remember it was this column that first predicted that presidential candidate Rick Santorum would not run in the Pennsylvania primary against Mitt Romney, no matter how strong his momentum was, thereby leaving the pathway clear for Romney’s nomination.
All of this might be a little premature since the race is a year off but, hey, it’s two weeks before Christmas and I needed a topic to write about.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at [email protected].
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