Pennsylvania 13: Daylin Leach- Liberal but Not Angry

by Stuart Rothenberg April 29, 2013 · 9:30 AM EDT

Daylin Leach, who is running for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s open 13th Congressional District (currently held by gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz), doesn’t run from the liberal label.

In fact, he proudly calls himself “the most progressive member of the Pennsylvania Legislature.” (See Roll Call Politics editor Shira Toeplitz’s “The Candidate” interview with him here.)

His campaign literature describes him as “the first legislator in Pennsylvania history to introduce a marriage-equality bill,” and it asserts that he “has led the charge to protect public education, the environment and civil rights” in the Legislature.

He promises that in Congress he will “lead the fight for women’s rights, access to reproductive services, LGBT equal rights, workers’ rights, access to justice, environmental protection and voters’ rights.” Shortly before he announced his bid for Congress, he introduced a marijuana legalization bill.

But if this makes you think the Keystone State Democrat would be another Alan Grayson, you might want to think again.

Grayson, a Democrat in Florida’s 9th District, has become a favorite of liberals nationwide not only because of his positions on the issues but also because of his fiery, often over-the-top rhetoric and no-holds-barred criticism of Republicans.

Grayson and Leach undoubtedly share many of the same views on matters of public policy, are Jewish and have roots in the Northeast (Grayson was born in the Bronx, while Leach was born in Philadelphia), but that’s where the similarity ends.

Leach is stunningly down to earth, easy to talk to and analytic. He is able to evaluate himself and others in a detached, thoughtful way. And he is funny and self-deprecating.

If Leach makes it to Congress, I don’t think that he would run from controversy or be scared to ruffle a few feathers. But I doubt that he would be a bridge-burner like Grayson.

The Democratic primary to replace Schwartz could be crowded. The district, which includes part of the city of Philadelphia and some suburban areas, is very Democratic, so the primary is where the real fight will occur.

State Rep. Brendan Boyle and party activist/physician Valerie Arkoosh are also in the contest, and former Rep. Marjorie Margolies is considering a bid.

Margolies, who served one term in the House as Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, is known for casting the deciding vote in support of a 1993 budget reconciliation bill that raised taxes, earning her then-President Bill Clinton’s appreciation and her defeat when she sought re-election in 1994. She is also Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law. But observers are skeptical about the 71-year old Democrat’s commitment to the race or her willingness to put in the long, hard hours needed to win.