Gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D. PA-13), recently talked to the Pennsylvania College Democrats through their big conference call and touched upon a few key topics in her race to unseat unpopular Governor Tom Corbett (R. PA).  She plans on making education a key priority as Governor:


“I believe strongly in investing in higher education,” said Schwartz.

“Being governor means investing in higher education and making sure our students can afford a higher education,” she added. “We need to ensure economic growth, to make sure we build on the great assets we have in our commonwealth starting with our people, and build a great future for a great state. Our Governor has undermined our trust and is holding our state back.”

When voucher programs were brought up, Schwartz said that she has “always been opposed to vouchers as an alternative to public education. We must make sure all of our schools are of high quality.”

“I have been open to charters,” she added, but made clear that “walking away from the public school system is not the best way to go.” - Keystone Politics, 4/18/13

Schwartz is of course referring Corbett's deep education cuts and his resistance in making education funding a top priority:


The public institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania saw major reductions in Gov. Tom Corbett's first two state budgets.

Community colleges were cut by 10 percent, State System of Higher Education entities such as Lock Haven University were cut by 18 percent and the state-related universities such as Penn State were cut by 19 percent.

In the fall of 2012, the Governor's Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education concluded that the current funding levels should not be reduced because further cuts will result in serious harm to Pennsylvania's colleges and universities.

So the Corbett administration proposed flat-funding higher education for the 2013-14 budget year - that is, the schools would receive the same appropriation as 2012-13 levels.

However, while that provides the appearance that schools would receive no less funding than they are currently receiving, higher education funding remains in a large hole since Corbett took office. - The Express, 3/27/13

Schwartz also hit Corbett hard for his misplaced budget priorities:
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15:  Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., speaks at a news conference with members of the New Democratic Coalition in the Capitol Visitor Center on how to deal with the upcoming
“Budgets, which are required by law to be balanced, are a question of priorities,” said Schwartz. “We need to set priorities in the right way. The Governor made it clear that his first priority was to cut education. He has ignored infrastructure, bridges, highways, and higher education.”

Schwartz explained that she serves on the Budget Committee at the Federal level, and that her committee “deals with these issues all the time–what would grow our economy, what does it take to be competitive, what does it take to make sure the people of Pennsylvania have the skills to move forward.” - Keystone Politics, 4/18/13

Schwartz also touched on the issue of gun control, an issue she has been a staunch supporter of:
“Pennsylvania has some good, strong laws on background checks and we need to make sure we enforce them and do all we can to protect our children from illegal guns,” added Schwartz. “There are a lot of responsible gun owners in Pennsylvania who are in favor of background checks. We have work to do to make sure that happens.” - Keystone Politics, 4/18/13
Corbett received some negative press for his response to gun control in the event of the Sandy Hook shooting:


In Pennsylvania, our strongest protection against guns falling into the wrong hands is the background check required of anyone attempting to purchase them. Convicted felons, drug addicts, domestic violence offenders and individuals adjudicated as mentally defective all fall under the “prohibited persons” category.  It makes sense.

We should judge future behavior based on past behavior. But it also means that the background check system is only as effective as the procedures and resources we use to identify high-risk individuals in the first place.

If you want to stop the mentally ill from owning guns, you need to identify, document and treat mental illness.  If you want to stop a wife beater from becoming a wife shooter, you need to devote resources to identifying cases of domestic violence, documenting the offenders and treating the victims.

So it’s a mystery why Gov. Corbett, who wants to “enforce the laws we already have in place,” would again and again propose drastic cuts to mental health treatment and other vital human services. - The Patriot News, 12/21/12

But one issue that could play a big role in this election is woman's right to choose.  Schwartz has long been a loud vocal advocate for abortion rights and Planned Parenthood:
Schwartz began by explaining that “most women and men support access to family planning and first-trimester abortions. We want to make sure that women are given dignity and respect and know all their options, and are safe and have quality care.”

“I want a full range of women’s health services to women in Pennsylvania,” added Schwartz. - Keystone Politics, 4/18/13

Though Schwartz has stated that she wants the race to be focused on Pennsylvania's economy, Schwartz has remained one of Corbett's harshest critics on abortion rights:


Corbett attracted the ire of abortion rights activists last year during the debate over a far-reaching mandatory ultrasound bill for women seeking abortions. He quickly became a target of women's groups when he dismissed concerns that the bill went too far, saying it wasn't a problem if women were forced to look at the ultrasound image because "[Y]ou just have to close your eyes."
Schwartz, in contrast, is a strong supporter of abortion rights, earning a "pro-choice score" of 100 percent from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Before she was in Congress, she also ran a Philadelphia women's health center where abortions were performed. Conservatives looking into her past have already zeroed in on the clinic.

In late March, EMILY's List -- which supports Democratic women who back abortion rights -- released a poll showing that Schwartz was the strongest possible Democratic candidate to beat Corbett.

"Allyson Schwartz has an outstanding record of putting Pennsylvania families front and center, which is a contrast to Gov. Corbett's tireless crusade against women and families," EMILY's List Press Secretary Marcy Stech told The Huffington Post on Monday. "From blocking women's access to health care to famously telling women who are subjected to forced ultrasounds to 'just close your eyes,' he has a destructive record to run on. We could not be more excited for this race get started." - Huffington Post, 4/8/13

Republicans are looking to make Schwartz's views and history with abortion rights the key issue to defeat her in Pennsylvania:


Republican strategists say a Schwartz candidacy could help mobilize their partisans as well as right-of-center independents for Corbett, who has been saddled with low approval numbers in polls and would benefit from passion in the GOP base.

"A Philadelphia liberal woman who ran an abortion clinic is not going to play in some parts of the state, particularly out west," said Republican strategist Nachama Soloveichik of the Pittsburgh firm Cold Spark Media. "The ads almost write themselves. In many places, she could be portrayed as someone who is 'not one of us' and 'doesn't understand our culture.' " - Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/2/13

But what some would see as a weakness, others argue that Schwartz's views on a woman's right to choose would actually be a key asset in defeating Corbett:
Schwartz's strategists bet it will play out differently - that her potential to become the first woman elected governor of Pennsylvania, along with memories of what Democrats called the 2012 Republican "war on women," would galvanize a winning coalition. Corbett's standing with female voters has been weak in polls, and many recall his suggestion that women need only "close your eyes" if they did not wish to view a mandatory ultrasound before an abortion, as an ill-fated bill proposed.

Schwartz helped found the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center, a now-closed women's clinic, in 1975 and ran it through the end of 1988. It provided prenatal care, a birthing center, and other health services. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/2/13

But Schwartz's supporters, galvanized by the election of Kathleen Kane as attorney general in 2012, are confident about their chances. Add in Gov. Tom Corbett's unpopularity among female voters and Schwartz's formidable fund-raising skills, and it's a race. - The Patriot News, 4/2/13
Corbett's baggage greatly outweighs any baggage Schwartz may carry.  Education cuts, his handling of the Penn State scandal and Jerry Sandusky while serving as Attorney General, trying to rig the electoral system for the GOP in 2016, voter ID laws, privatizing the lottery, the list just goes on.  Plus it would be a bad idea for Corbett to make this race about abortion because even on that issue, he still loses:


“I don’t know why people would call it a war on women,” he told the Philadelphia-based Dom Giordano of Talk Radio 1210 WPHT. “We do not have a war on anybody.”

When asked about the bill then, he made like it was no big deal. “I’m not making anybody watch, OK,” he said, in a video circulated by PA Independent, “because you just have to close your eyes. As long as it’s on the exterior and not the interior.”

Corbett addressed that comment and the outrage it caused while on Giordano. “Other than one comment that was taken completely out of context and didn’t draw any attention back when there was a bill under consideration,” the governor continued. “There’s no other comments that I have said about women out there.”

The governor became a huge party liability from the point of that comment on, with everyone from U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz to President Barack Obama hitting him for political points during the campaign season.

“[The recent comments] just speak to how out of touch he is with women in Pennsylvania and people in Pennsylvania,” says Mark Nicastre, communications director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “This is a pretty good example, and there are many others, that he just doesn’t understand that what he’s saying has consequences.” - Philadelphia Weekly, 3/22/13

Corbett of course was defending this idiotic comment he made about a mandatory ultrasound bill that was trying to be pushed through by the Pennsylvania GOP:

Corbett's defense of this only makes him look as out of touch as former Senator Rick Santorum (R. PA):

Corbett is saying that you can’t literally force anybody look at the printout from the forced ultrasound you just gave them, even though the bill says the doctor has to note what the patient’s eyes were doing when shown the printout. He’s defending a narrow part of the bill – whether or not women should have to look at the printout from the forced ultrasound. But he apparently finds it uncontroversial that women should be forced to get the ultrasound in the first place, and doesn’t seem to understand why women would object to forced penetration by the state as long as they don’t have to look at the picture. - Keystone Politics, 3/22/13
Plus Schwartz has a juggernaut campaign finance director who used to work for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and shares a long history of supporting a woman's right to choose:
With more than a decade of experience in both candidate and political non-profit fundraising, Aubrey is an expert at executing political finance plans, coaching candidates, state and federal fundraising compliance, and managing finance staff. She has a wealth of knowledge about targeting and soliciting potential donors, methods and means for maximizing contributions, as well as how to avoid common mistakes and misconceptions about fundraising.

Aubrey has worked on dozens of local, state, and federal races throughout the country as well as several political issue campaigns. She served previously as Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania, led the campaigns of State Senator Daylin Leach, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and Bryan Lentz’s top-targeted campaign for Congress. Aubrey, a Philadelphia native, is currently the finance director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and serves on the national faculty for the Center for Progressive Leadership, The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics and the New Leaders Council. - Democracy For America Training Team

If Corbett really wants to make this race about abortion, ok, go ahead.  Sure, he'll win over the militant pro-lifers, he already has them in the bag.  But to the rest of the voters, it'll just look like he's trying to distract voters from his awful record as Pennsylvania's most corrupt Governor:

It's easy and helpful for a pro-life candidate to win office in Pennsylvania.  Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D. PA) is living proof of that.  But Pennsylvania has elected pro-choice candidates to big offices like former Governor Ed Rendell (D. PA) and Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D. PA).  Plus if Corbett is stupid enough to make this race all about Schwartz's history and record on a woman's right to choose, he's only going to anger female voters even more and cause a huge turnout in next's race.  Plus Pennsylvania voters would be making history next year by making Schwartz the first female governor of the Keystone State.  State Republicans may sound confident on the surface about using abortion as a wedge issue but the reality is Schwartz is their worst nightmare.  If she runs an excellent campaign, which I'm sure she will, she could not only take back the Governor's mansion but maybe even help more Democrats overcome the gerrymandered map and take back a few seats in the State House and Senate.  If you would like to get involved with Schwartz's campaign, you can do so here:


Originally posted to pdc on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 04:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania, Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), Shut Down the NRA, Pittsburgh Area Kossacks, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, RaceGender DiscrimiNATION, and Philly Kos.

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