U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz looked out at hundreds of comrades from battles past Thursday at her annual Women in Politics fundraiser and implored them to join her in the present fight: to become the first woman governor of Pennsylvania.
"I need you now," Schwartz said. "You are my base."
She said that her record of accomplishment was "unmatched" in the Democratic primary field and noted that female candidates for high office are "constantly challenged by the sexism of the media and the political pundits."
Schwartz also disputed the idea that frontrunner Tom Wolf's business experience had prepared him well to be governor. "The fact is that he is untested, unproven and unvetted," she said. "And he has already broken his promise to be open and transparent and different."
Over the last week, Schwartz has criticized Wolf over a $4.45 million business line of credit he took out last December to help him pull together the $10 million he has donated to his campaign. Schwartz argues that was misleading in not disclosing the loan before the Inquirer reported it, would be constrained as governor by the debt to M & T Bank, and had released the documents to the public despite saying he would. (Wolf's campaign, however, has allowed reporters to view the papers, which contain confidential information.)
"We are fed up with that stale politics, that old boys club that looks after themselves and not the people that they serve," Schwartz said, vowing she would bring the greatest change to Harrisburg.
"We are ready to call out when there is inequity, when there's bias, because we know that it matters when we do," she said. "And we know that do get things done you have to be willing sometimes to shake things up."
As the campaign grows closer to the May 20 primary, Schwartz has stepped up her appeals to gender. She began as the presumed frontrunner but a flock of Democrats entered the race, emboldened by a weakened Republican incumbent governor, and Wolf jumped to an unexpectedly large lead on the strength of a TV ad campaign that was virtually unchallenged for six weeks.
Schwartz, 65, got her start in public life in 1974 as one of the founders of the Blackwell Women's Clinic. She later was commissioner of the city's human-services department, and became known as an advocate of access to health care and education during 14 years in the state Senate, and the past nine years in Congress.
"You know what I've done and you know what I can do as your governor," Schwartz told the attendees. "But to get there I need the women of Pennsylvania to stand up for themselves, their families and the future."
She asked her backers to redouble their efforts. As Schwartz finished, to cheers, Pat Benatar's "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" blasted from the speakers.
At the conclusion of Schwartz's speech, Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" blasted from the speakers.