WASHINGTON -- Emily's List made its first official foray into 2014 gubernatorial politics Thursday by formally endorsing Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) in her bid for Pennsylvania governor.
The Washington-based group, which focuses on electing pro-abortion rights Democratic women, touted Schwartz as the best alternative to current Gov. Tom Corbett (R). Schwartz is one of five Democrats currently competing in the May 2014 primary for the nomination to oppose Corbett.
“Governor Corbett’s devastating cuts to education and his fiscal irresponsibility have left Pennsylvania ranked 49th in job growth," Emily's List President Stephanie Schrlock said in a statement. "The people of Pennsylvania deserve better -– someone like Allyson who is focused on getting things done rather than blindly gutting vital programs."
Schwartz is not the only woman seeking the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania; former state Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty is also a candidate. But Schwartz, a five-term congresswoman from the Philadelphia suburbs, has deep ties to Emily's List, which touted a poll in March showing her leading the Democratic field.
The other declared Democratic candidates are businessman Tom Wolf, minister Max Myers and John Hanger, McGinty's successor in the state Department of Environmental Protection. The March poll was taken before former Rep. Joe Sestak (D) announced he would not run for governor and would instead explore a 2016 run for U.S. Senate.
Corbett has been a top target of abortion rights groups since his strong support last year for a bill requiring those seeking abortions to have ultrasounds. During the debate over the bill, he dismissed the argument that the bill was invasive, saying women who didn't want to see the image "just have to close [their] eyes."
Corbett said he is not engaged in a "war on women" in a radio interview last month. His staff did not respond to HuffPost's request for further comment.
"Other than one comment that was taken completely out of context and didn't draw any attention back when there was a bill under consideration ... [there are] no other comments that I have said about women out there," Corbett said last month.
The endorsement by Emily's List comes as the group seeks to elect more Democratic women as governor. Of the nation's five currently serving female governors, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is the only Democrat. Emily's List is backing presumptive New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono in her bid this year against Gov. Chris Christie (R).
Several other Democratic women are considering gubernatorial bids in 2014, including New Mexico state Sen. Linda Lopez, who would challenge Gov. Susana Martinez (R); Rhode Island Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who would challenge Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (I); and Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who would challenge Gov. Brian Sandoval (R).