The Washington Post

This Democrat L-O-V-E-S Obamacare and wants the world to know it

The first 17 words out of Rep. Allyson Schwartz's mouth in her new TV ad don't sound anything like what you'd expect to hear a typical 2014 Democratic candidate say: "I worked with President Obama on the Affordable Care Act and getting health coverage to all Americans."

Of course, Schwartz is not running  in a typical race. She's running for governor of Pennsylvania in a contested Democratic primary. While in most races the ad would be a head-scratcher, in hers, cozying up to the president and emphasizing her support for the law could help.

First, it allows Schwartz to paint her congressional service in a positive light at a time when Congress is woefully unpopular and threatens to drag down her chances. Two, it enables her to distinguish herself from the field on an issue liberal voters care about. She's the only member of Congress in the Democratic race. That means she is also the only one who cast a vote for the health-care law. Third, Schwartz goes after Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Medicaid expansion. She needs to convince primary voters she represents a sharp contrast with the Republican and the ad helps her make that case.

Recent polling shows businessman Tom Wolf (D) leading Schwartz and two other candidates by a wide margin ahead of the May 20 primary. But Schwartz has only recently hit the airwaves, and many voters are undecided, suggesting that the race might tighten. Schwartz is spending more than $500,000 to air the ad in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia media markets.

In most competitive races, Democrats who voted for Obamacare have been trying hard to distance themselves from the law by touting proposed fixes and trumpeting the pressure they applied on the Obama administration when things were going poorly with the rollout. Obama recently encouraged Democrats to go on offense with Obamacare, and we are starting to see signs they are doing so more often. A Democratic super PAC ad in the battleground Alaska Senate race is the perfect example.

But don't expect to see Democrats lean into Obamacare as much as Schwartz is in her new ad. What may work in a race-to-the-left gubernatorial primary is still politically untenable in most competitive races for Congress.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
Quoted
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.