Marjorie Margolies running for Congress again

After 20 years, the congresswoman whose name became shorthand for losing your seat over a single vote is looking to return to Capitol Hill.

Marjorie Margolies is planning to run for Pennsylvania's 13th House District seat, sources close to the former representative confirms. She will file her statement of candidacy with the FEC on Thursday. 

As a freshman in 1993, Margolies (then Margolies-Mezvinsky) was convinced by Democrats to switch her vote and save President Bill Clinton's budget. On the night of the vote, Republicans taunted her from the aisles, predicting that she would lose her conservative district. They were right.

She says the vote that sent her home after one term has also taught her that a lone lawmaker had power.

"It never entered my mind when I went down there for the first time that I could make a difference," she told the Post. "Casting the deciding vote for Clinton's budget made a difference. I'd like to try to make a difference again."

It was a lesson that haunted moderate Democrats during the fight over health-care reform.

“I was a terrible politician. It was a drive-by,” she told Time magazine in 2010. “I never thought I’d become a verb.”

Margolies herself told them, "I feel your pain," but warned that "you could be Margolies-Mezvinskied whether you vote with or against President Obama."

A few years later, Margolies founded Women's Campaign International, a nonprofit that helps women around the world become political and economic leaders. She also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

The district she's running for is far more favorable to Democrats than the one she left — the challenge Margolies faces is in the primary, not the general election. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) is leaving the seat open to run for governor. Other candidates include state Sen. Daylin Leach, state Reps Brendan Boyle and  Mark B. Cohen, and activist Valerie Arkoosh.

Margolies will likely have some high-profile help — she's Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law. But, she said, she "did not run on Clinton's coattails" in 1992 and doesn't plan to do so in 2014.

And while the district has changed, she says she is still the moderate Democrat she was twenty years ago. "I'm very much the same carbon based homo sapien," she said.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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