Allyson Schwartz files to run for Pa. governor

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D. Pa.) has yet to announce she’s running. (Matt Rourke / AP)

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz launched her campaign for the 2014 Democratic nomination for governor Monday, declaring that Gov. Corbett’s “failed leadership” has crippled the Pennsylvania economy in a competitive world.

“He’s just missing in action most of the time,” Schwartz, of Montgomery County, said in an interview. She noted that the state’s unemployment rate has been well above the national average during Corbett’s term. “What I’m hearing from people around the state is that they know we need a fresh perspective about the economy and growth.”

Schwartz, 64, argues her experience in Washington and Harrisburg makes her the strongest potential nominee to challenge Corbett. The governor’s approval rating in independent public polls is at a historic low, though Pennsylvania voters have yet to turn down an incumbent chief executive seeking a second term.

 “We’ve got to do all we can to defy history,” Schwartz said. “It’s not going to be easy.”

She is in her fifth term representing Pennsylvania’s 13th District, which includes the working-class neighborhoods of Northeast Philadelphia as well as portions of Montgomery County. Before winning election to Congress in 2004, Schwartz was a member of the state Senate, beginning in 1991.

To win that 2004 race, Schwartz bucked party elders, including then-Gov. Ed Rendell, who preferred another candidate. If she is successful in 2014, she would be the first woman elected governor of Pennsylvania.

“I’m running to be governor, not the ‘first woman’ governor,” Schwartz said. “But the fact that I am the only woman in the congressional delegation and in a senior policymaking role, means people know I can beat the odds. I have brought a different perspective…it does change the dynamic.”

Though known as a strong advocate of abortion rights and gun control measures, Schwartz’s record on economic and fiscal issues is moderate, a fact her campaign intends to highlight. In the U.S. House, for instance, Schwartz sponsored the largest-ever tax credit for biotechnology companies, an growing sector of the economy in Pennsylvania.

Schwartz planned to file the paperwork Monday afternoon to establish a state campaign committee, “Pennsylvania for Allyson,” that will allow her to raise money for a governor’s race. Her staff said that $3.1 million in her congressional committee account would be transferred to the new entity, providing a head start on that effort.

 Former City Controller Jonathan Saidel, a popular vote-getter from Northeast Philadelphia who ran for lieutenant governor in the 2010 Democratic primary, signed on as chairman of the new campaign committee.