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With Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz's run for Pennsylvania governor all but formally announced, state Senator Daylin Leach has entered the race for the seat currently held by her in Congress. But would the banner-waving progressive leaving the PA Legislature for the U.S. Congress be good or bad for the progressive movement in Pennsylvania?

After much speculation and some polling in her favor, Politico reported late last week that Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA 13th) will definitely be running in the Democratic primary for governor in 2014. While Pennsylvania Democrats must decide whether Schwartz is too left-wing or too right-wing to warrant the gubernatorial nomination, Pennsylvania progressives are faced with the prospect of losing one of our most reliable champions in state government and politics. State Senator Daylin Leach (17th District - Montgomery & Delaware counties) has called himself "Pennsylvania's leading progressive state senator," and showed how richly he deserves this label by introducing bills that would enact some of the most progressive public policies in the nation in Pennsylvania, including marijuana legalization, marriage equality, and mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Daylin Leach
And because his progressive credentials are so uniquely impeccable (I confess to sometimes thinking of him as the Bernie Sanders of the PA Senate), I'm forced to wonder what the effects on state government and politics would be if Leach were to win that U.S. Congress seat. What would the PA Senate be like with or without him, and what would the U.S. Congress be like with or without him? If my tone hasn't given it away yet, I have to say, I'm leaning towards the opinion that he does more to bring the PA Legislature and state-wide political discourse to the left then he would do the same for the nation if he was in Congress. It's true that the U.S. House of Representatives has recently lost some of its most celebrated lefties like Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank, but they still have people like Alan Grayson staking out key left-wing policy positions and arguments.
Alan Grayson
Alan Grayson explaining Republicans' health care reform proposals
Without Daylin Leach, the U.S. House is still going to have that progressive role fulfilled by members like Alan Grayson and the existence of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But in the PA Senate, without Leach these public policy proposals considered far-left may never see the light of day or shake up our collective political discussions as a state. I don't doubt that he could do a lot of good in the federal government, and I don't fault him for trying to get to the next stage of his political career (especially if it leads to him running for governor someday), but I'm concerned that the absence of his unique voice from state government and politics will leave the progressive movement in Pennsylvania at a much greater loss than him not joining the chorus at the national level would leave the national progressive movement.

Here are some highlights of a conference call with reporters Leach held today to discuss his candidacy courtesy of Politics PA:

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.”

SDCC

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.

Originally posted to ProgressivePatriotPA on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 03:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh Area Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cks175, shanesnana, randallt, Mostel26

    Mere passive citizenship is not enough. Men must be aggressive for what is right if government is to be saved from those who are aggressive for what is wrong. - Fighting Bob La Follette

    by ProgressivePatriotPA on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 03:59:50 PM PDT

  •  hah, I knew Daylin Leach when he was just a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ProgressivePatriotPA

    minor Dem Party official in the Lehigh Valley, way back in the 80's. One time we sat over beers for hours debating whether the US should give military aid to the ANC.

    I didn't know he was a State Sen now.

    I hope to all the gods Mike Solomon ain't running his campaign (does Mike Solomon still run campaigns?)

    •  He's not just a state senator now but was also (0+ / 0-)

      in the state house for years!

      Mere passive citizenship is not enough. Men must be aggressive for what is right if government is to be saved from those who are aggressive for what is wrong. - Fighting Bob La Follette

      by ProgressivePatriotPA on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 04:47:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ah, well, I left PA in 1997 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ProgressivePatriotPA

        and lost touch with everyone.

        I think the last time I saw Daylin he was hosting a political show on  . . . Channel 69, I think it was. Before that he was co-host of a radio call-in show--I was with the Lehigh Valley IWW at the time and he kept telling me he wanted me on the show because of my "different viewpoint", but never actually set a date.

        How about Mike D'Amore---he was a good friend of mine too. Last I heard he was prez of the Allentown City Council.

  •  Excellent essay in favor of Leach for Congress (3+ / 0-)

    I know you hate to lose a good fighter at the State level, but he's a guy we need at the national level.  You'll miss him in the Senate, but his higher profile in Congress would hopefully encourage other PA progressives to run for office.  And for the many Pennsylvanians who don't follow State House politics, Leach would get more publicity for not only himself, but the progressive movement, if he wins his Congressional contest.

    Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

    by cks175 on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 04:28:35 PM PDT

    •  Very good points in favor of the change, thanks (0+ / 0-)

      for your contribution to the discussion!

      Mere passive citizenship is not enough. Men must be aggressive for what is right if government is to be saved from those who are aggressive for what is wrong. - Fighting Bob La Follette

      by ProgressivePatriotPA on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 04:46:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think having Leach in Congress will be benefical (0+ / 0-)

    for PA progressives. I mean, having a progressive hero advance in the ranks could easily inspire a potential progressive candidate who is on the fence on whether to run or not. And with a higher profile, Leach could raise more money for those low-level progressive candidates.

    Plus, it'll keep the Congressional seat shifted to the left-wing (perhaps even more so than Schwartz), so that helps us overall.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 07:47:43 PM PDT

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