Drexel Hill — With so many of the Democrats’ gubernatorial hopefuls hailing from eastern Pa., every county party dinner from now until May 2014 will be a battleground.
Friday night in Delaware County was no exception. The annual FDR-JFK Dinner. This year the attendees included governor hopefuls such as Pa. Treasurer Rob McCord and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, and their featured speaker, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.
Schwartz and McCord operatives, identified by prominent stickers worn on their chests, worked the room trying to gain support from their candidate.
Delaware County has gone reliably Democratic in recent statewide elections and will be key for the party’s efforts to take the governor’s mansion in 2014. For primary purposes, the county has the fifth-most registered Dems in the state: 151,000.
When David Landau, Chair of the Delaware County Democratic Committee, gave his introductions, he boasted that this was the “largest Democratic dinner Delaware County has ever seen.”
“It’s a great turnout, even though [this year] we don’t have a governor’s election.”
The irony was lost on no one as Landau introduced honored guests and mentioned Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, for instance, as someone, “who we may see run for governor.”
When it was McCord’s turn to speak, he fired up the crowd with an energetic speech about labor unions, local races, his own successes as Treasurer and the goal defeating of Tom Corbett.
He made the case for a McCord gubernatorial campaign, even though he hasn’t yet made official his intent to run.
“If Tom Corbett ever chooses to attack me saying, ‘oh he doesn’t know anything about the economy,’ I’m going to say, ‘You gotta be kidding me. I’m the one who created a thousand jobs in the business world. Who isn’t a career politician or career bureaucrat and how didn’t make stupid pledges that are damaging and threatening our economy going forward?’ We need that kind of a candidacy, that is very important.”
McCord finished by addressing his potential opponents.
“I have a lot of friends thinking about running for Governor. I have a ton of respect for Congresswoman Schwartz, for Mayor Pawlowski, for Tom Wolf and Katie Mcginty. Sometimes friends compete against each other and are made better for it. And the fact that all of you are willing to work hard now, helps to improve our process. And I encourage you to engage in this like a real job interview.”
Wolf is a former Pa. Revenue Secretary and McGinty is the former Secretary of the Dep’t of Environmental Protection. Both announced their candidacies in recent weeks.
Finally the evening came to a close as Schwartz (D-Montco), the featured speaker, gave her remarks at the podium. (Her keynote spot wasn’t a sign of 2014 favor; she had been invited to keynote the event months before.)
In a manner that sounded like the test run for a stump speech, Schwartz talked about her earliest memory of her dad, her work creating CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) while she was in the State Senate and her time in Congress.
Schwartz attacked Corbett and asked for the support and help of her Democratic companions.
“We see a Governor with the wrong priorities. Like so many of you I’m fed up with it. I refuse to sit idly by and watch what’s going on in Harrisburg and what’s going on in Pennsylvania. And that is exactly why with your help, with your commitment, with your hard work, I am determined to be your next Governor.”
Many Dems are clamoring for the nomination, but one of the biggest potential names was absent Friday night: Joe Sestak, the former congressman, 2010 senate hopeful and Delaware County native.
He has left the door open to a gubernatorial campaign, but has taken no steps that specifically indicate any intent to run.
Varying polls on the Pennsylvania’s governor’s race have shown Sestak in the lead followed by Schwartz.