State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

At PA Society, Dems scramble for superlatives

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 15, 2013 6:44 PM

Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, one of the more recent Democratic entrants to the gubernatorial race, mingles at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan.

The state's political movers and shakers descended on New York City this past weekend for the 115th annual Pennsylvania Society and, this year, the date after which many expect the campaign for governor to heat up.

Pennsylvania Society is sometimes jokingly referred to as Pennsylvania prom, and there is something reminiscent of high school given the close proximity of eight competing Democratic candidates for governor all weekend.

State Treasurer Rob McCord was clarifying an old comment he made about one of his opponents, Allyson Schwartz, when, all of a sudden, she was standing next to him.

"Speaking of which," McCord said as Schwartz joined him in front of a group of reporters.

"I warmed them up for you," Schwartz said, laughing.

Schwartz had just spoken before a largely Republican audience at an event hosted by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association.

"This has been my first invitation. Even as a member of Congress from ten years, this is the first time I've been invited," Schwartz said. "I think they recognize and very keenly that there may well be new leadership and maybe there ought to be new leadership."


Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, Democratic candidate for governor, at Pa. Society.

A number of factors could come into play in the campaign -- money, experience, agenda, personality. The candidates emphasized different ones as they made their case to potential supporters and donors. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, one of the relative newcomers to the race, shared his own realpolitik perspective.

"You got five of these folks are going to chop themselves up in the Philadelphia marketplace. Normally, as a Democrat, you need to carry that pretty heavily," Pawlowski said. "I probably only need 12 to 15 percent in Philadelphia. I could probably get that just by being Pawlowski. Pawlowski ain't gonna hurt me up in the coal region; it ain't gonna hurt me out west."

Many expected the gossip to focus on 2014, but state Attorney General Kathleen Kane raised eyebrows when she made the rounds Friday evening with a prominent Democratic fundraiser.

"I'm raising money because I'm always prepared and I don't like to wait until the last minute," Kane said later. She pledged during her campaign not to run for another office during her first term as attorney general, but is leaving open the possibility she'll run for a different post (some suggest U.S. senator) once her term is up.


Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane greets Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

Other Democratic candidates for governor include Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, pastor Max Myers, two former Department of Environmental Protection secretaries, John Hanger and Katie McGinty, and former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, who very prominently eschewed hosting a reception of his own and instead opted to donate $15,000 to regional food banks.

After most of the weekend's activities, McGinty could be seen walking through Penn Station Sunday morning. As she moved through the crowd, someone turned to greet her and shake hands.

Prom was over. The campaign had begun.


This post has been updated to reflect gubernatorial candidate Max Myers' name: it is Max, not Mike.

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