The Hill's 25 Women to Watch: Page 4 of 26

The Hill's 25 Women to Watch





On her way to Washington, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.) was denied a primary endorsement from the Democratic Party.

What a difference eight years can make.

Schwartz, who’s seeking a fifth term, is now considered a rising star among the party faithful. She’s grabbed a senior position on the influential Budget Committee, is frequently tapped as a dependable public voice for the Democrats and is almost always included on the shortlist of future party leaders.

The 64-year-old attributes that rapid ascension, at least in part, to lessons learned from that 2004 primary when the Democrats backed her opponent.

“I knew that I needed to be my own person,” Schwartz, a former state senator, said recently of that experience, “[that] I needed to be independent, and that as strong as I am as a Democrat — and I am — I also always knew that I had to sort of work it myself, work with outside groups on good public policy, and then work it internally to get it done.”

The formula has paid off, as Schwartz has been successful passing major legislation in her relatively short tenure, including bills to provide small-business tax breaks to veterans and ensure seniors have better access to primary care. 

Schwartz stands out for another reason: Of Pennsylvania’s 20 congressional lawmakers, she’s the only woman. It’s a distinction she’s quick to note — suggesting that at least part of her drive is fueled by the notion of fighting for the state’s underrepresented women.

Schwartz is coy about her future ambitions. But political opponents should be warned: She has no plans to fade away.

“What I want to do is to be able to continue to be influential and be a leader on policy,” she said. “And as long as that … influence is growing, I’m going to stick around, that’s for sure.”

— Mike Lillis