Democratic U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz has hired the state party's finance director for her own political operation, an indication the longtime congresswoman is seriously thinking about a run for the nomination to take on Gov. Corbett in 2014.
Aubrey Montgomery, whose fund-raising is credited with putting Pennsylvania Democrats on a sound fiscal footing, informed her colleagues she was leaving in an e-mail Wednesday night.
"While my time as a PA Dems staff member will be coming to an end, my commitment to the operation we've built, and the reputation we've earned, will continue as I move into this new role," Montgomery wrote.
Montgomery's extensive state-level fund-raising contacts could be an asset as Schwartz contemplates her next move. Democrats say Schwartz, mentioned as a possible contender for statewide office, is considering a gubernatorial run. Though the Democratic primary is about 14 months away, it pays to start early when taking on an incumbent who is expected to be able to raise at least $30 million for his reelection campaign.
Democrats believe Corbett is vulnerable because of cuts he made to education and welfare programs. Schwartz has a base in the southeast, has had success solidifying her hold on a competitive suburban House district, and has feminist credentials. Corbett also angered supporters of abortion rights by supporting a proposal to require women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion.
Moreover, Schwartz had $3.1 million in her congressional campaign account as of October, according to federal records. That cash could be converted to a state campaign account should Schwartz decide to run for governor.
Several Democrats are running, considering running, or being touted as challengers to Corbett. Former state environmental secretary John Hanger launched his campaign last month. Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, former revenue secretary Tom Wolf, and Philadelphia millionaire Tom Knox have expressed various degrees of interest, and some party leaders are pushing state Treasurer Rob McCord.
"Aubrey was a key member of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party as we achieved historic success in 2012," party executive director Kevin Washo said in a statement. "Under her leadership, we grew our donor base while raising and spending more in 11 months than the last four years combined."
The party raised about $7.5 million in 2008, the last presidential cycle, and $18.9 million for 2012 activity.