By Ted Bordelon
Wire Managing Editor
You probably know Marjorie Margolies. Well, that’s what her pollsters said last month, anyway.
According to their numbers, 81 percent of the 13th District, which encompasses much of eastern Montgomery County and about three-quarters of Northeast Philadelphia, are familiar with her.
If you’re in the 19 percent of voters who aren’t sure who she is, Margolies would probably want you to know one thing right off the bat: She voted for Bill Clinton’s economic plan in 1993 when she served one term as a congresswoman from 1993 to 1995.
“One vote can make a difference,” Margolies said from a coffee shop near the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches a class at the Fels Institute of Government.
The plan passed 218–216.
It was unanimously opposed by House Republicans and 41 Democrats, largely because the Clinton budget proposed a hike in federal taxes. During her campaign, Margolies had promised not to raise taxes, and the vote, in many respects, led to her defeat in her bid for a second term as the 13th District’s congresswoman.
Margolies contends that the bill led to the creation of 23 million jobs and spurred the economic boom of the 1990s.
“It all started on August 5th, 1993,” Margolies said. “Ask any economist.”
While that vote is certainly the reason for a large part of her notoriety, she is also known for her close ties to the Clinton family via her son Marc Mezvinsky’s marriage to Chelsea Clinton in 2010.
She said that her in-laws have “been very warm,” and noted that Bill Clinton made a donation to her campaign.
While she has been out of office for almost 20 years, Margolies is the founder and chair of Women’s Campaign International, a group that aims to aid women in emerging democracies seeking roles in the political process.
“I have no retirement skills,” Margolies said, noting that she is a “political addict” who has kept up with any and all news from D.C. and beyond.
At 71, she is the oldest of the candidates running for the 13th District. The race also includes state Rep. Brendan Boyle, state Sen. Daylin Leach and health care reform advocate Valerie Arkoosh.
She said that her age shouldn’t be a factor in the campaign, though, according to Margolies, “Experience counts.”
She noted that her two prior years as congresswoman will give her more favorable committee assignments than the typical freshman congressperson, and that her experience fundraising for Women’s Campaign International has kept her in touch with officials in different branches of the government.
When Margolies first ran for the congressional seat in 1992, it was located entirely within Montgomery County, and included her home in Wynnewood, where she currently resides. Now that she is outside of the 13th District, she plans to move for the campaign.
Recent fundraising figures from the second quarter showed Margolies had raised the least amount of money of the four Democratic candidates.
“We started very late,” she noted, adding that one of her upcoming fundraisers will include about 30 former and current members of Congress.
Regardless of the numbers, Margolies said that she is not worried about fundraising, and that she is “comfortable running a race as an underdog” as she has in the past.
If elected, Margolies said that she didn’t suspect there would be much difference among the candidates on many hot-button issues such as guns, education and same-sex marriage.
She said that the state of government is deplorable, and pointed to the Republican-led House’s repeated attempts to defund the Affordable Care Act as a case-in-point example that, “Washington’s broken.”