Dr. Val Arkoosh, a physician running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in Pennsylvania’s 13th District, has captured one of the biggest endorsements of the race so far, from a leading advocacy group fighting cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
The Arkoosh campaign announced the endorsement Friday, and used it to try to draw a contrast with an opponent in the primary, former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies.
“Dr. Arkoosh….understands and supports the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
The group did not criticize any of the other candidates in its endorsement.
But Arkoosh’s campaign used the occasion to remind voters that Margolies had sought to slow the growth of the entitlements 20 years ago.
“The National Committee’s endorsement is noteworthy given the stark contrast in this race,” said Arkoosh campaign manager Jacob Dusseau, “Dr. Arkoosh will make strengthening retirement security for seniors and future retirees a top priority, while Marjorie Margolies proposed a bill that would [have] cut Social Security benefits when in Congress.”
When Margolies was running for reelection in 1994, she introduced legislation to increase the eligibility age for Social Security benefits and to limit cost-of-living adjustments to wealthier seniors.
Margolies lost that election, a year after she cast the deciding vote in favor of President Bill Clinton’s tax-raising 1993 fiscal plan, despite having said she would not support new taxes. Supporters point to her decision as an act of courage that helped bring about the prosperity of the 1990s.
"Really? A 20 year-old political attack from the campaign that touts itself as a new voice?" Ken Smukler, a senior adviser to Margolies, said in a statement.
"The one vote we are confident that voters will remember from 20 years ago is the one vote Marjorie cast that meant the most in the lives of those living in Pa's 13th congressional district - her deciding vote for the Clinton budget; a vote that laid the groundwork for the largest economic expansion in US history since World War II."
As head of the National Physicians Alliance, Arkoosh advocated for increasing Medicare benefits as part of the Affordable Care Act when it was passed in 2010; the committee cited that work in its endorsement.
She is running for the 13th District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who is running for governor. In addition to Margolies, Arkoosh faces state Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County and state Rep. Brendan Boyle of Northeast Philadelphia.
Arkoosh, who has never run for office, raised $203,089 in the fourth quarter of 2013, and had $643,000 cash on hand – the most in the race, according to recent campaign finance reports