State Sen. Daylin Leach Tuesday became the first candidate to publicly announce a bid for Allyson Schwartz’s 13th district congressional seat.
“I am running for this seat because my background is that I was born in northeast Philadelphia, lived in northeast Philadelphia, in very difficult circumstances,” said Leach (D-Montgomery) on a call with reporters. He said access to welfare, public schools and libraries helped him overcome the obstacles of his youth, and he wants to be a voice for those people in Washington.
He joins physician and Democratic activist Valerie Arkoosh in the soon to be crowded field to replace Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montco). She is expected to announce a bid for Governor, which Leach noted.
The primary is likely to be heated as some of the state’s top Democratic prospects weigh potential bids.
Speaking of, state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Phila) Tuesday made a clear indication that he is also intending to run in the 13th. He announced his campaign’s hiring of two campaign consultants from DC-based 4C Partners. Brian Smoot and Nicole D’Ercole have extensive experience with U.S. House and Senate races around the country, particularly on the independent expenditure side.
“I’m very excited to be bringing aboard two of the very best in this business,” said Boyle in a press release. “I’m looking forward to working closely with Nicole and Brian in the months ahead.”
Arkoosh’s campaign declined to comment on either development. She filed her candidacy with the FEC, thus allowing her to solicit contributions, but has not make an official public announcement. An email to supporters indicated she had a fundraising goal of $250,000 by March 31.
Leach campaign manager Aren Platt said Leach had about $168,000 in his state campaign account at the end of 2012. That money cannot be transferred into a federal campaign account, but his campaign could refund cash to individual donors and ask them to donate the refund. Platt said congressional fundraising, begun Monday, has been going “very, very well.”
PoliticsPA previewed the race and in addition to Arkoosh, Boyle, and Leach, possible candidates include former City Controller Jonathan Saidel and state Sen. Leanna Washington among others.
The district is a safe Democratic seat, comprising southern Montgomery County and northeast Philadelphia, with primary voters split roughly 50/50 between the two.
Leach made clear his intent to woo voters across the city line, reference numerous times his childhood growing up in the northeast.
But his biggest asset is his profile. Leach enters the race, as his announcement video makes clear (below), with a long pedigree on liberal issues on women’s issues, voter ID, gay marriage, and more.
Odds and ends:
Why so early?
“When you run for Congress, there’s an awful lot to do. You have to raise a lot of money, you have to reach out to 700,000-some people,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time. We’ve tried to be respectful of Allyson’s timeline.”
What of those who want better representation of women in Congress, seeking a woman to replace Schwartz?
“I don’t think every time a man and woman run against each other in America, the woman should necessarily win. I think it matters who the candidates are and what their records are.”
“I think in the last 30 years or so in the Pa. legislature, my record is second to none on women’s rights.”
“At the end of the day, look, I’m not a woman. That’s clear. I can never be a woman. But I have something to contribute and I have contributed toward the advancement of women’s rights in Pennsylvania and I think I can do that nationally.”
What kind of campaign will it be?
Leach said he’s spoken with all the prospective candidates in the race and promised a positive campaign.
“I am not running against anybody. I am running for the issues that I care about,” he said. “I’m not gonna focus on any other candidate. I’m not gonna go negative on other candidates.”
Will Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro run?
“I’m not gonna reveal the content of specific conversations. I do not know ultimately what Josh decides to do. I do not see any indication that Josh is interested in this seat at this point.”
Leach chairs the Pa. Senate Dems’ campaign committee, but said he’d take a hiatus during the heat of the congressional primary. As will Platt, the SDCC’s Executive Director. If he wins the primary, it will be sorted out then.
Here is Leach’s video: