Before leaving recently to begin campaigning, McGinty was executive vice president of Weston Solutions, a West Chester environmental firm. She said she had "north of" $1 million in donations or commitments for her campaign.
Democrats are cheered by Gov. Corbett's low approval ratings in polls, including a so-called gender gap. In a Quinnipiac University survey this year, for instance, 45 percent of registered female voters who responded disapproved of Corbett's job performance, compared with 37 percent for men.
An environmental adviser to Al Gore when he was in the Senate, McGinty headed the Council on Environmental Quality in the White House from 1995 to 1998. She served as state DEP secretary from 2003 to 2008 during the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell.
Schwartz made her candidacy official this week. Also running are York businessman and former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf; John Hanger, McGinty's successor at DEP; and a Cumberland County minister, Max Myers.
State Treasurer Rob McCord, former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak of Delaware County, and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski are among other Democrats considering a run.
In an interview, McGinty contended Corbett had failed to take full advantage of the state's life-sciences industry and massive shale oil reserves to create jobs. She said her experience in business and as an environmental regulator equipped her to bring disparate interests together.
She said the natural gas and world-class engineering programs at colleges and universities should be harnessed to revive manufacturing. "Pennsylvania should be the blue-collar Silicon Valley of the U.S.," McGinty said.
She supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights. On abortions, McGinty said, "I think President Clinton had it right in terms of safe, legal, and rare."
She said growing the state's economy would be her focus. "I've always been concerned about politicians who inflame and divide people, and I'm not about that," she said.
Contact Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @tomfitzgerald on Twitter. Read his blog, "The Big Tent," at www.philly.com/bigtent.