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Allyson Schwartz - Biography

Allyson Young Schwartz (born October 3, 1948) is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2005. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes parts of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia. She is also National Chair for Recruitment and Candidate Services for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Contents

Early life, education and career

Schwartz was born in Queens, New York, to Everett and Renee (née Perl) Young. Her mother left Vienna in 1938 after Germany annexed Austria and came to the United States, where she settled at a Jewish foster home in Philadelphia. Her father was a dentist in Flushing, Queens, and a veteran of the Korean War. She has a brother, Neal, and two sisters, Nancy and Dale.

Schwartz graduated from the Calhoun School, on the Upper West Side of New York City, in 1966 and then enrolled at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Simmons in 1970, as well as a Master of Social Work degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1972. She worked as assistant director of the Philadelphia Health Services Department from 1972 to 1975, and executive director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Center, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia, from 1975 to 1988. In 1988, she was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

Pennsylvania Senate

In 1990, Schwartz was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate, representing a district in Northwest and Northeast Philadelphia. In what was considered an extremely bitter campaign, Schwartz was able to unseat incumbent Republican Joe Rocks. Perhaps the most notable example of the tenor the campaign took on was the assertion from the Schwartz campaign that Rocks had an alcohol problem and engaged in promiscuous behavior. The comments had apparently been prepared as a joke by a staffer, released accidentally, and Schwartz apologized, but the campaign became increasingly acrimonious from that point forward.

Schwartz was re-elected in 1994, 1998, and 2002. The district was extended into Montgomery County in the legislative reapportionment of 1991 and Schwartz moved in early 2004 to Jenkintown in Montgomery County, where she still lives. In 2000, she ran in the Democratic primary for the United States Senate seat of freshman Republican Rick Santorum. She finished second behind Pittsburgh-area Congressman Ron Klink but won Montgomery County and Philadelphia with impressive numbers.

In a 2002 PoliticsPA feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, she was named the "Best Dressed," to which she responded "I appreciate the honor...it must be the scarves."

U.S. House of Representatives

Schwartz is a member of the New Democrat Coalition and the chair of the New Democrat Coalition Taskforce on Health. In this position, she has actively pushed for the greater use of interoperable and secure electronic prescribing systems throughout the country in an attempt to decrease medical errors as well as costs and liability to providers, health systems and patients.

Schwartz is the first Democratic member of the House of Representatives to call for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign following his photo scandal.

Committee assignments

  • Committee on the Budget
  • Committee on Foreign Affairs

Prior to 2011 she was also a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Political campaigns

2004

In 2003, Pennsylvania 13th District Congressman Joe Hoeffel decided not to run for a fourth term, opting instead to make a Senate run against Republican Arlen Specter. Schwartz had originally planned to run for Auditor General, but changed her plans after Hoeffel's announcement. She narrowly defeated former Philadelphia deputy mayor and National Constitution Center director Joe Torsella in the primary. While most former state legislators raise comparatively more money through PACs than individual donations, she raised $4,597,032 from individual donations and comparatively little ($558,376) in PAC donations.

In the general election, Schwartz faced Melissa Brown, Hoeffel's Republican challenger in 2002. Schwartz won handily, taking 56 percent of the vote. The 13th had long been reckoned as a classic moderate Northeastern Republican district, but had become increasingly Democratic in recent years. A Republican presidential candidate hasn't carried it since 1988, and it has been in Democratic hands for all but four years since 1993.

2006

In 2006, Schwartz retained the seat by defeating opponent Raj Bhakta, who is most famous for his appearance on the television show The Apprentice 2.

2008

Schwartz won against Republican nominee Marina Kats.

2010

Schwartz won against Republican nominee Dee Adcock.

Personal life

Schwartz is married to Dr. David Schwartz, a cardiologist, and they live in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. They have two adult sons, Daniel and Jordan.

  • Berkman, Michael, and James Eisenstein. “State Legislators as Candidates: The Effects of Prior Experience on Legislative Behavior and Fundraising,” Political Science Quarterly, 52, no. 3 (1999): 481–498.

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