U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz is in the state Capitol today, meeting with House Democrats to urge them to do what they can to finally get a major transportation funding bill passed in the House.
But lost on absolutely no one is that Schwartz is also among eight Democrats jockeying for her party's nomination to take on Gov. Corbett in next year's gubernatorial election -- and whether or not a transportation funding bill actually passes this year could be important to Corbett's reelection campaign.
For her part, Schwartz told reporters Tuesday morning that she did not think failure to reach a compromise on transportation would hurt Corbett's reelection chances. She said it would instead hurt Pennsylvanians the most, not just because they will continue to travel on sub-par roads and bridges, but because a vast cash infusion into transportation projects translates into job creation and makes the state a more attractive place for businesses to invest.
Still, whether or not there is a compromise on a bill or not, Schwartz (or whoever emerges in the Democratic field of gubernatorial wannabes) will sharpen the political knife: if transportation funding doesn't pass, she can say the governor couldn't provide the leadership to get it done. If it does pass, she and others can argue that it's not enough of an investment.
Nonetheless, state Republicans have made no secret they want Schwartz to emerge as the Democratic nominee. They believe she is a polarizing figure, with a politically polarizing past (she once ran a Planned Parenthood clinic, which the GOP calls an "abortion clinic"). They think she is so liberal that she will galvanize Republican voters to go to the polls and defeat her; and move some independent or more conservative Democratic voters to pull the lever for Corbett.
Schwartz on Tuesday said she does not view herself as polarizing, and stressed that she has worked with elected officials on both sides of the political aisle.
"They see me as the strongest and the most serious threat against him," Schwartz said of the state Republican party.
"The state party is very concerned about me being the nominee," she added. "They are taking me on already. You don't do actually that if you aren't worried about the candidacy of your opponent."
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.