Washington Bureau

04.22.14

Democratic Candidate Embraces Obamacare In New Ad

In an uphill battle to win the Democratic primary for governor, Rep. Allyson Schwartz is becoming one of the first candidates this year to embrace Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act may still be considered politically toxic in most races but one candidate for Pennsylvania Governor embraced it in a new ad released Tuesday.

Allyson Schwartz is a congresswoman from suburban Philadelphia currently lagging far behind frontrunner Tom Wolf in the primary to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee from the Keystone State. Although Schwartz, a five-term incumbent, started the campaign as the favorite, her lead in polls has been obliterated in recent months as Wolf has spent millions of dollars on statewide television ads in his bid to earn the right to face off against incumbent Republican Tom Corbett in November.

Now, with a month before the primary, Schwartz is airing an ad in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that touts her work passing Obamacare and features numerous photos as well as footage of her with the President. The fact that Schwartz is releasing this ad represents a calculated political risk from a candidate trying hard to pick momentum in the last month of a Democratic primary.

In a general election, releasing this ad would be risky at best. While the political calculus around the Affordable Care Act varies from state to state and from race to race, national polling has shown it to be a highly polarizing issue that still does not play well with independents. Further, while Obama's poll numbers have ticked up recently, they are still underwater. 

But, in a Democratic primary, partiuclarly in one where there a significant number of African American voters, it's a plus to openly embrace Obama and the Affordable Care Act. The risk, of course, is that this presents a hostage to fortune and could be used against Schwartz in a general election in a swing state like Pennsylvania. Even though Corbett's polling numbers are currently in the toilet, it still gives him an additional weapon to use in a general election. But then again, when, like Schwartz, you're 30 points down with less than a month left, any risk is worth taking.