Clout: Schwartz seems sure bet for 2014 Pa. governor's race

Posted: February 15, 2013

IS U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz 80 percent decided toward running for governor of Pennsylvania in 2014? We think that may be a little on the low side.

Montgomery County Democratic Chairman Marcel Groen cited that percentage last Friday to Capitolwire. Schwartz later told TheMorning Call of Allentown that the number was "pretty accurate."

Schwartz, who represents Philadelphia and Montgomery County, has $3.1 million in her campaign fund, raised under the strict restrictions for federal races. She can dump that all into a run for governor, since state regulations are far more lax.

That may put Gov. Corbett in the middle of a Montgomery County crunch, with Schwartz on his left and County Commissioner Bruce Castor on his right.

Schwartz's chief of staff, Rachel Magnuson, said that her boss is "deeply weighing" the race.

Castor said that he will decide in the next couple of months whether he will mount a Republican primary challenge. Schwartz can impact that decision, he said.

"If I become convinced that the GOP is going to lose with Tom Corbett in the fall of 2014, that will go a long way in making the decision for me," Castor said. "I believe the Republicans, to win statewide, have to find a way to do reasonably well in the southeastern media market. I don't see Gov. Corbett doing that."

Castor thinks that Schwartz would do very well in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. Castor also thinks that he's one of the few potential Republican candidates who can be competitive with Schwartz in this region while drawing his party's support across the rest of the state.

"Replacing Tom with a candidate who can do well in the southeast and appeal to voters outside makes a lot of sense," he said.

Commission & casinos

The room at the Pennsylvania Convention Center was packed Tuesday with lawyers, lobbyists and politicians who were set for a long day of testimony about the city's one remaining casino license when the first applicant's video raised more than a few eyebrows.

There, near the end of a 14-minute video lauding the developers of Market8, a casino project pitched for 8th and Market streets in Center City, was Chief Deputy City Commissioner Dennis Lee. If the people in the room didn't know Lee, the video helpfully gave his full city job title.

Lee, previously chairman of the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution, lauded developer Ken Goldenberg for his work on the Park West Shopping Center, in West Philadelphia.

His job title up on the big screen, in full display for the state's gaming regulators, made it appear as if a city official was endorsing a casino applicant.

Lee said that he filmed the video three weeks ago, thinking that the developers would identify him only as the former chairman of a community group. The video, under his city title, also lists the group's acronym, WPFSI.

"No one knows what that means," said Lee.

Market8 spokeswoman Alison Grove said that nobody was paid to appear in the promotional video.

"That was not the intention of the video," Grove said when we pointed out that Lee's video testimony looked like an endorsement from a city official.

Wofford wins medal

Former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford will visit the White House Friday to be awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal.

President Obama will give the nation's second-highest civilian honor, behind the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 12 people.

He also will award the medal posthumously to six teachers and administrators killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that also took the lives of 20 children.

"Especially with those who lost their lives, it's a humbling experience," Wofford said this week.

Wofford, a Democrat, represented Pennsylvania in the Senate from 1991 to 1995 before losing to Republican Rick Santorum. Wofford had been a White House adviser on civil rights for President John F. Kennedy and advised the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He was an early supporter of Obama's first presidential bid.

Patience Lehrman, who came to Philadelphia from Cameroon and is national director for Project SHINE (Students helping in the Naturalization of Elders) at Temple University, also will be awarded the medal.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: philly.com/phillyclout

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