Schwartz opens offensive, and plays some defense

    U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz came out swinging yesterday in her gubernatorial campaign, calling for a five percent tax on natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania.It’s an idea that makes perfect sense to Democrats who see money for schools and transportation there for the taking, and it quickly provoked the “tax and spend liberal” epithet from Gov. Corbett and the state Republican committee.For an informative report on the views of Corbett, Schwartz, and other Democrats in the race, see this post by my hustling colleague Katie Colaneri of State Impact Pennsylvania.

    Meanwhile, Pete DeCoursey of the online service Capitolwire has an interesting account of Schwartz working the Pittsburgh Labor Day celebration Monday and confronting the skepticism of an influential Western Pennsylvania labor leader.According to DeCoursey, Jim Kunz of the operating engineers union raised a fear voiced by other Democrats – that if Schwartz gets the Democratic nomination, Republicans will pound her with ads saying she spent years running an abortion clinic.Schwartz was director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center, a women’s health clinic that performed abortions.Kunz said the attacks may not be fair or accurate, but they will hurt.”You can’t convince me she can win in the fall,” he said.Schwartz sought to do just that, DeCoursey reports, arguing that the state has changed, that the public supports abortion rights, and that Obama won the state on a pro-choice platform.DeCoursey reports that Kunz, “looking uncomfortable and reddening in the face,” told Schwartz, “Look, you’re a great congresswoman, but I think we’re gonna have a problem here.”None of Schwartz’s rivals have publicly raised the issue of her work at the Blackwell Center, but there has been background chatter among forces unfriendly to Schwartz.Schwartz confronted the issue last month when she released a memo from a campaign poll suggesting that attacks based on her work at Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center won’t be effective.

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