Democratic Congresswoman Breaks Up With Her Moderate Friends

Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, a gubernatorial candidate, is trying to reestablish her liberal bona fides.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Add to Briefcase
Alex Roarty
Jan. 23, 2014, 1:17 p.m.

Life is get­ting more dif­fi­cult for Demo­crats cling­ing to the polit­ic­al cen­ter. Rep. Allyson Schwartz ab­ruptly cut ties Thursday with sev­er­al mod­er­ate Demo­crat­ic groups as she runs for gov­ernor in Pennsylvania.

Schwartz’s cam­paign said Thursday that the Phil­adelphia-area con­gress­wo­man would no longer serve as an hon­or­ary chair­wo­man of the cent­rist think-tank Third Way, a group that en­raged lib­er­al act­iv­ists in Decem­ber when its lead­ers wrote a Wall Street Journ­al op-ed cri­ti­ciz­ing the party’s pop­u­list agenda.

Schwartz, who faces a com­pet­it­ive Demo­crat­ic gubernat­ori­al primary, im­me­di­ately came un­der fire from rank-and-file lib­er­als for her as­so­ci­ation with the group, but only this week form­ally sep­ar­ated her­self from it.

Schwartz’s an­nounce­ment em­phas­izes that in ad­di­tion to leav­ing Third Way, she’s also leav­ing her lead­er­ship post with the New Demo­crat Co­ali­tion and her po­s­i­tion on the House Budget Com­mit­tee — an ap­par­ent at­tempt to cut her ties to Wash­ing­ton while her cam­paign heats up in Pennsylvania.

“As the May primary ap­proaches, I had long planned to step aside from oth­er com­mit­ments,” she said in a state­ment.

But a spokes­man for her cam­paign, Mark Berg­man, told Na­tion­al Journal that Third Way’s op-ed “made the de­cision that much easi­er.”

Schwartz’s de­par­ture was first re­por­ted by the lib­er­al blog Daily Kos.

Her de­cision is a re­veal­ing sign about the cur­rent state of Demo­crat­ic Party polit­ics. It’s evid­ence of a grow­ing rift between the party’s base, which is fight­ing for a more ro­bust pro­gress­ive agenda, and some of its more mod­er­ate ele­ments, which want it to emu­late the cent­rist tack taken by former Pres­id­ent Clin­ton. To date, the dis­pute has mani­fes­ted it­self most keenly in the de­bate over pos­sible pres­id­en­tial con­tender Hil­lary Clin­ton, whose close ties to Wall Street have spurred calls for Eliza­beth War­ren to launch her own pres­id­en­tial cam­paign. (The Mas­sachu­setts sen­at­or has said she won’t run.)

Now, the dis­pute ap­pears to be spread­ing. Schwartz is the early front-run­ner in the Key­stone State’s gubernat­ori­al primary. But she faces a hand­ful of qual­i­fied op­pon­ents, all of whom could ex­ploit the per­cep­tion that she isn’t lib­er­al enough for the party’s primary voters.

The Third Way op-ed, which cri­ti­cized lib­er­als who op­pose So­cial Se­cur­ity cuts, im­me­di­ately drew con­dem­na­tion from Schwartz, who called it “out­rageous” and signed onto a bill that would ex­pand the en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram. In form­ally sep­ar­at­ing her­self from the group now, she signaled the grow­ing clout of the party’s lib­er­al base.

Pro­gress­ive groups im­me­di­ately de­clared vic­tory. 

“As a Wall Street front group, Third Way had little cred­ib­il­ity to be­gin with — and that cred­ib­il­ity is nearly nonex­ist­ent now that their own co­chair is dump­ing them,” said Adam Green, cofounder of the Pro­gress­ive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. “Third Way’s at­tack on Eliza­beth War­ren’s eco­nom­ic-pop­u­list agenda, in­clud­ing ex­pand­ing So­cial Se­cur­ity be­ne­fits, is something that no smart Demo­crat in the coun­try would em­brace — and Allyson Schwartz de­serves cred­it for mak­ing a smart de­cision.”

Wheth­er the con­gress­wo­man’s de­cision hurts her in a gen­er­al elec­tion re­mains to be seen. Lib­er­al act­iv­ists ar­gue that So­cial Se­cur­ity is an over­whelm­ingly pop­u­lar pro­gram, and huge swaths of voters op­pose all cuts to it. But do­ing so can also make a law­maker look be­hold­en to the party’s lib­er­al base, a per­cep­tion that could ali­en­ate middle-of-the road voters.

“Today, Allyson Schwartz proved that she will do whatever it takes to ap­pease her ex­treme lib­er­al base,” said Megan Sweeney, a spokes­wo­man for the Pennsylvania Re­pub­lic­an Party. “After months of deny­ing it, Allyson Schwartz has fi­nally em­braced her status as a tax-and-spend rad­ic­al lib­er­al. Now she can tout her new taxes and plans for in­creased gov­ern­ment spend­ing without wor­ry­ing about keep­ing up a cent­rist façade.”

A spokes­man for Third Way de­clined to com­ment.

If Schwartz wins the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion, she’d face Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Tom Corbett, who is one of the most vul­ner­able gov­ernors up for reelec­tion in 2014.

What We're Following See More »
ALL 100 SENATORS
Dem Senator Calls North Korea Briefing “Sobering”
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
SAYS CLINTON ADMINISTRATION BASICALLY GOT IT RIGHT
Pai Announces Plans to Roll Back Net Neutrality
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even as he acknowledged the importance of an open internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday set his telecom agency on a course to scrap the tough, broad net neutrality protections imposed by the Obama administration. During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors." Separately, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie that the Clinton Administration "basically got it right when it came to digital infrastructure. We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."

Source:
WILL ANGER CONSERVATIVES
White House to Continue Paying Obamacare Insurers
8 hours ago
BREAKING
LOFTY GOALS
White House Proposes New Tax Plan
8 hours ago
BREAKING

The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

Source:
ORDERED BY PRESIDENT
DHS Launches Office for Victims of Crimes by Immigrants
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), as called for in a presidential executive order from January. The new office's website states that its staff "will be guided by a singular, straightforward mission—to ensure victims and their families have access to releasable information about a perpetrator and to offer assistance explaining the immigration removal process."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login