STATE SEN. Anthony Hardy Williams stopped just short this week of endorsing U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz if she challenges Gov. Corbett next year.

After all, Schwartz isn't even a declared candidate yet.

"I told her she could use my name in a fond and affectionate way," Williams told us.

One person probably not using his name that way this week: state Treasurer Rob McCord.

McCord is the other heavyweight in the state's Democratic camp considering ways to deny Corbett a second term.

Williams, who finished third in the 2010 Democratic primary election for governor, said that Schwartz called this week for his advice. He predicted that "nobody else major" would get into the race if she decides to run.

What about McCord?

Williams said he had no doubt that McCord would step aside.

"I think that Rob basically wants to be anointed and have it given to him," Williams said of the Democratic nomination. "He wants a lot of money and a clear field. I don't think he'll go head-to-head with Allyson."

The reaction from McCord's camp was swift, if not certain.

"What candidate doesn't want a lot of money and a clear primary?" asked McCord spokesman, Mark Nevins.

"Rob has met with Senator Williams, and the senator knows that when Rob makes his announcement, it will be based entirely on whether Rob wants to be governor," Nevins continued. "No other candidate, including Congresswoman Schwartz, will have any bearing on that decision."

John Hanger of Hershey, who served in former Gov. Ed Rendell's Cabinet, is the only Democrat who has declared his gubernatorial candidacy.

Tom Wolf, another Rendell Cabinet member, is mulling a run.

McCord, who won a second four-year term in November and lives in Bryn Mawr when he isn't in Harrisburg, had $1.6 million in his campaign coffers as of Dec. 31.

Schwartz, who won a fifth two-year term in November and lives in Jenkintown when she isn't in Washington, had $3.1 million in the bank at the end of the year.

GOP challenger for D.A.

District Attorney Seth Williams is likely to be challenged in the November general election by one of his former assistants.

Williams, a Democrat seeking a second term, and Republican Danny Alvarez are not even on the ballot yet. But they wasted no time taking shots at each other.

Alvarez, 35, went to work in 2003 for the District Attorney's Office, fresh out of law school, and left to start his own private practice in December 2011. He worked in the gun unit and then the child-support-enforcement unit.

Williams, 46, called Alvarez a "dedicated community servant and a good child-support enforcement attorney." He then questioned Alvarez's motives for getting into the race.

"In any campaign, the incumbent must defend his or her record in office, while the challenger's role is to convince voters they can do a better job, rather than to just build their law practice," Williams wrote by email.

Alvarez said that his campaign is "definitely not" designed to boost business at his law practice.

"I'm not going to do any mudslinging," Alvarez said when asked about Williams' comments. "That's not my style."

Alvarez said that he wants the D.A. office to focus on prosecuting crime and to stop spending money on "certain things in the office that are outside of the scope of prosecution."

We asked Alvarez three times for an example of such spending. He declined to elaborate.

Williams and Alvarez need the signatures of 1,000 registered voters on nominating petitions by March 12 to get on the ballot.

Traffic Court optimism

Speaking of nominating petitions, we were struck with wonder this week by the optimistic nature of Philadelphia's political class when it comes to the scandal-plagued Traffic Court.

There are three seats available on the court. Pay is $91,052 per year. You don't even have to be an attorney to wear the black robe.

One problem: The state Senate last week approved legislation to get rid of those three seats as part of a plan to abolish Traffic Court.

The state House is now considering that legislation.

That all came after federal prosecutors filed charges two weeks ago against nine current and former Traffic Court judges.

So who would run for an office with such a shady reputation and such an uncertain future?

As of Thursday morning, 58 people had picked up petitions to get on the May 21 primary ballot.

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN