State Treasurer joins race for governor

Rob McCord, Pennsylvania treasurer, during a DRPA meeting in 2010. He plans to announce his candidacy for Pennsylvania governor at Montgomery County Community College at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Rob McCord, Pennsylvania treasurer, during a DRPA meeting in 2010. He plans to announce his candidacy for Pennsylvania governor at Montgomery County Community College at 10 a.m. Tuesday. (SARAH J. GLOVER / File Photograph)
Posted: September 25, 2013

State Treasurer Rob McCord jumps into the Pennsylvania governor's race Tuesday, offering himself as a Democrat with business credentials who would reverse cuts that Gov. Corbett has made in public education and other institutions vital to the middle class.

"It's personal for me because Pennsylvania was a place of immense educational opportunity and economic opportunity for me," McCord said Monday in an Inquirer interview. "I feel like this bad governor is repealing the investments that are essential to give people the same kind of opportunity I had."

McCord, 54, plans to announce his candidacy at 10 a.m. at Montgomery County Community College, then cross the state for an afternoon visit to an electricians' union training facility on Hot Metal Street in Pittsburgh.

He has been laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial campaign for months, and vaults into the first tier of a crowded Democratic primary field. McCord brings some political advantages - he becomes the only declared candidate in that field who has been elected statewide (twice), and has proven himself to be an able fund-raiser.

Corbett, a Republican, is considered among the most politically vulnerable incumbents in the country, with recent independent polls finding that 30 percent or fewer registered voters believe he deserves reelection. While no Pennsylvania governor who has sought reelection has failed since 1974, when governors were first allowed to seek a second four-year term, the perceived opportunity has drawn a flock of Democrats to the race.

When he took office in 2011, Corbett faced a $4.2 billion deficit and made deep spending cuts to balance the state budget while adhering to a promise not to raise taxes. Democrats have attacked him, especially on education spending.

The Corbett administration says the current budget includes the most state spending on public education ever, though that claim appears to include payments to the school employees' pension fund as well as classroom spending.

Democrats who have already entered the 2014 race include U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, who shares a Montgomery County base with McCord; former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf of York County; former environmental secretaries Katie McGinty and John Hanger; Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski; Cumberland County minister Max Myers; and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

McCord, of Bryn Mawr, graduated from Harvard University in 1982 and went to work for then-U.S. Rep. Norman Mineta (D., Calif.), who later became U.S. transportation secretary. McCord also headed a policy think tank founded by then-Sens. Al Gore and John Heinz called the Congressional Institute for the Future.

Later, he earned an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and became a venture capitalist. McCord joined Safeguard Scientifics of Wayne, a holding company that invests in technology and life-sciences firms, then went out on his own, becoming wealthy.

In 2008, he was elected treasurer in his first foray into elective politics. He was reelected last year.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's career in private equity proved a liability last year, but "we were in very different lines of business," McCord said. "My business was about growth capital, not breaking things up. My own capital was at risk - we made money only if the people we invested in made money."

Despite his career trajectory, McCord started in modest circumstances, raised largely by a single mother who was a teacher and later a professor of criminology, who divorced his father ("a high-functioning alcoholic," McCord said) when he was 4. He struggled with dyslexia and went to Lower Merion High School.

"That was my upward escalator," McCord said. "It was never like we lived in a van down by the river, but I was very conscious that my mom was the only divorced parent I knew, and we were the poorest family in the neighborhood."

Robert M. McCord

Party: Democratic.

Born: March 5, 1959.

Resides: Bryn Mawr.

Education: Lower Merion High School; B.A., Harvard University; M.B.A., Wharton School.

Employment: Aide to U.S. Rep. Norman Mineta (D., Calif.), 1982-84; vice president, Safeguard Scientifics Inc., 1994-98; cofounder and managing director, Eastern Technology Fund, 2000-07; managing director, Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners, 1999-2007; elected Pennsylvania state treasurer, 2008; reelected, 2012.

Family: Married to Leigh Jackson, former Philadelphia Daily News journalist; sons Jack and Grant.



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