The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Though there’s still over a year before the primary, the race for Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district seat is getting crowded — and several of the candidates have strong Penn connections.

The race opened up Monday when United States Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), who currently holds the seat, formally announced she would be running for governor in 2014 after months of speculation.

Tuesday, Fels Institute of Government faculty member Marjorie Margolies — who represented the 13th district from 1993-95 — made headlines with speculation that she may enter the race.

In an interview, she said she is considering a run for her old seat, but added that she hasn’t made a final decision yet.

“Have I spoken to politicians and political leaders and everything? Yes, because it is on the table,” she said, declining to comment on the specifics of those conversations. “[But] it’s very premature and I was a little surprised [the story] was picked up, because it’s too early.”

Margolies was voted out in the Republican sweep of the House of Representatives in 1994 after casting the deciding vote for then-President Bill Clinton’s budget, which she promised to vote against. She cited that vote as a reason voters might want her to run, describing herself as “someone who at least seemed to have done something that wasn’t going to assure her seat.”

Clinton — whose daughter Chelsea is married to Margolies’ son — has encouraged her to run, KYW Newsradio reported Tuesday.

Also throwing her hat into the ring is Perelman School of Medicine professor Valerie Arkoosh, who declared her candidacy in March. Arkoosh has never held public office, but is nevertheless no stranger to Pennsylvania politics. She was a leading fundraiser for Schwartz’s 2012 campaign, having donated $5,000, according to Federal Elections Commission filings. Her husband also served as the treasurer for Schwartz’s congressional campaign.

According to a fundraising report filed Wednesday, Arkoosh’s campaign raised $218,000 through March 31. Despite her campaign’s strong opening, Arkoosh fell short of the $250,000 goal set out in a March email to supporters.

Arkoosh could not be reached for comment.

Former Philadelphia City Controller Jonathan Saidel — who also used to teach at the Fels Institute — has also filed with the FEC in a bid for the seat.

“I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of calls from the business community, the unions and some Democratic Committee activists asking me to run for the 13th congressional,” he said. Emphasizing fiscal issues, Saidel is confident in his chances of winning. “What I present is someone that has the capability to do the job, the experience to do the job and the caring to do the job,” he said.

While Arkoosh’s ties to Schwartz are strong, Saidel’s are perhaps stronger. He was named chair of the state political action committee that Schwartz established for her gubernatorial campaign Monday.

“I was co-chairman of Allyson’s campaign when she first ran for Congress, and I’ve known Allyson for well over 20 years,” he said. While Schwartz has not officially endorsed anyone yet, Saidel said they have consistently supported each other in campaigns.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat who represents parts of Montgomery County, has also built up a strong campaign early. In the Pennsylvania Senate, he has advocated for progressive causes, including access to health care and education, as well as marijuana decriminalization — an attitude he said he would carry into federal office if elected.

“I want to make sure people behind me have the same opportunities I had, and I want to make sure the economy works for everybody,” he said.

State Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Democrat representing parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia, has also entered the race. He could not be reached for comment.

The next representative will effectively be determined in the Democratic primary, as the district itself is a Democratic stronghold.

While it would be legal for Schwartz to run for re-election while simultaneously running for governor, she has expressed that she will go all in for the governorship. Monday, she transferred $3 million from her federal political action committee to her newly established state political action committee — a move that is very difficult to undo given campaign finance laws.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.