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Allyson Schwartz's gender gambit

Democrat Allyson Schwartz could use a boost in the governor's race from usually reliable opposite-party players.

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz outside her office on Capitol Hill. (Peter Marovich/MCT/File)
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz outside her office on Capitol Hill. (Peter Marovich/MCT/File)Read more

I THINK I'VE FIGURED OUT what Allyson Schwartz needs.

And I acknowledge being sexist by writing about her since she says female candidates are "constantly challenged by the sexism of the media and the political pundits."

Hmmm. Media and political pundits. That makes me two-times guilty.

Be that as it may, I think I know what she needs as she struggles to regain her lost designation as Democratic front-runner for governor in the May 20 primary.

It's more than being "the mother of CHIP" or the first lady of Obamacare - even if she had a hand in creating both.

What it is?

Well, she's clearly running on gender.

She has a TV ad about fighting the "old boys club." She often notes that she was one of the first women in the state Senate and is the only woman in Pennsylvania's congressional delegation.

She says women need to stand up for themselves and their families by voting for her. And last week she told attendees at her Women in Politics fundraiser, "I need you now."

I think she's wrong.

I think what she needs now are Republican men.

Where are they?

Republican men, especially those in or seeking office, often can be counted on for stupid sexist comments that drive women up the wall and to the polls.

Don't tell me they've learned not to do that anymore!

Where are the likes of former Missouri U.S. Rep. Todd Akin?

As a 2012 Senate candidate talking about abortion, Akin said rape victims rarely become pregnant: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Akin was favored to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He lost by 15 points.

Where's former Sen. Rick Santorum?

Asked in 2012 about women in combat, he said, "That could be very compromising . . . because of other types of emotions that are involved."

Some types of emotions stopped his White House run.

Where's Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant?

Last year he blamed mediocre public education on women because "the mom is in the workplace."

Where are these types when Schwartz needs them most?

Maybe she can reach back for that 2012 quote from Gov. Corbett, who said women opposing fetal ultrasounds prior to abortion can "just close your eyes."

(I'm sensing a new TV ad.)

And, look, I'm not suggesting Schwartz or any woman runs solely on gender or relies on men saying stupid things in order to succeed.

I'm suggesting that men saying stupid sexist things help women candidates.

And right now there doesn't seem to be much that's pushing women wholesale toward women candidates.

Maybe that's because any of those running to oppose Corbett - Schwartz, Katie McGinty, Rob McCord, Tom Wolf - are acceptable to Democratic women voters.

Or maybe women are feeling a tad shell-shocked.

Look what's happened in the last several weeks.

Kathleen Kane, who broke barriers to become the first woman elected Pennsylvania attorney general, is in a public-image nightmare for her handling of a controversial Philly sting case.

Four of five Democrats caught on tape in that case taking cash or gifts from an undercover informant are women.

One Democratic state senator, LeAnna Washington, last month was charged with corruption; another, Lisa Boscola, was just tossed out of a Harrisburg bar following a raucous run-in with GOP House Speaker Sam Smith.

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolis appears to have slipped from front-running perch in a bid to recapture her House seat.

And the League of Women Voters debate, a staple of statewide politics, was canceled last month for lack of candidate participation.

So Schwartz might want to use her D.C. connections to, you know, prod Republican men into sexist statements to rile women voters to smash the shackles of patriarchy.