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 »
HEALTH IN QUESTION
Sen. Cochran Back to Washington Tuesday
7 hours ago
THE LATEST
THIRD VERSION OF THE BAN
Federal Judge Temporarily Stops Trump’s Travel Ban
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A federal district court in Hawaii has temporarily blocked the third iteration of President Trump's travel ban. Judge Derrick Watson said the new targeted restrictions on travel from eight countries Trump issued on Sept. 24 suffers the same problems as the previous order."

Source:
FORMER ELI LILLY EXEC
Trump Leaning Towards Alex Azar for HHS
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump is leaning toward nominating Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical industry executive and George W. Bush administration official, to serve as Health and Human Services secretary, according to two White House officials...Azar is a veteran of HHS. He served as the department’s general counsel and deputy secretary during the Bush administration." He led Eli Lilly's U.S. operations from 2012-17.

Source:
ENOUGH SUPPORT TO PASS?
Senators Reach Bipartisan ACA Deal
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Sen. Lamar Alexander says he and Sen. Patty Murray have reached a deal to fund the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing subsidies in exchange for giving states more regulatory flexibility with the law." Axios is watching to see if the deal will gather support.

Source:
INDEX UP MORE THAN 20% SINCE ELECTION
Dow Jones Hits 23,000 Threshold
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

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