On Thursday night, 2014 gubernatorial candidate Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) joined the Pennsylvania College Democrats for their final statewide conference call of the semester.
Speaking to students from universities and colleges across the Commonwealth, Schwartz said that she “announced for Governor just 10 days ago because Pennsylvania can’t afford to stand still.”
Schwartz began the call by talking about the affordability of college, saying that “Governor Corbett made history by attempting to cut funding for higher education by 50%.” The Congresswoman explained that Corbett’s position was too extreme even for Republicans, leading to only a 20% cut.
“I believe strongly in investing in higher education,” said Schwartz.
“Being governor means investing in higher education and making sure our students can afford a higher education,” she added. “We need to ensure economic growth, to make sure we build on the great assets we have in our commonwealth starting with our people, and build a great future for a great state. Our Governor has undermined our trust and is holding our state back.”
After introducing herself and her plans, Congresswoman Schwartz took questions from the students on the conference call.
The first question was was about women’s issues, asking “how do you see your role as Governor as influencing the access to healthcare that lower income women have, and counteracting Republican efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood?”
Schwartz began by explaining that “most women and men support access to family planning and first-trimester abortions. We want to make sure that women are given dignity and respect and know all their options, and are safe and have quality care.”
“I want a full range of women’s health services to women in Pennsylvania,” added Schwartz.
Next, the Congresswoman was asked how she would assure that college students will receive a quality education while also maintaining a balanced budget.
“Budgets, which are required by law to be balanced, are a question of priorities,” said Schwartz. “We need to set priorities in the right way. The Governor made it clear that his first priority was to cut education. He has ignored infrastructure, bridges, highways, and higher education.”
Schwartz explained that she serves on the Budget Committee at the Federal level, and that her committee “deals with these issues all the time–what would grow our economy, what does it take to be competitive, what does it take to make sure the people of Pennsylvania have the skills to move forward.”
When voucher programs were brought up, Schwartz said that she has “always been opposed to vouchers as an alternative to public education. We must make sure all of our schools are of high quality.”
“I have been open to charters,” she added, but made clear that “walking away from the public school system is not the best way to go.”
Finally, Congresswoman Schwartz was asked what she thought would be “the most strategic means to stop the NRA’s derailing of our Democratic system.”
Schwartz began by saying that “part of the democratic system is that there are interest groups who lobby us,” but that she was “disappointment in the failure of the Senate” in passing gun control legislation.
“Pennsylvania has some good, strong laws on background checks and we need to make sure we enforce them and do all we can to protect our children from illegal guns,” added Schwartz. “There are a lot of responsible gun owners in Pennsylvania who are in favor of background checks. We have work to do to make sure that happens.”
Schwartz was optimistic, however, concluding that she “believe[s] fervently that after more conversation about this in our country, we will have the kind of representatives who are willing to stand up for the safety of our children and the safety of our communities.”
Schwartz concluded by asking students to join her campaign effort, emphasizing that she was the “strongest candidate” to take on Governor Corbett in 2014.
Schwartz is considered the frontrunner in a Democratic candidate pool including Pastor Max Meyers, former PA DEP Secretary John Hanger, former PA Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, former PA DEP Secretary Katie McGinty, PA Senator Mike Stack, PA Treasurer Rob McCord, and former Congressman Joe Sestak.
Only Sestak has polled higher than Schwartz, but the retired Admiral has not made any moves signaling that he will run.