Democrat Allyson Schwartz and Republican Marina Kats, opponents in politics, do have several things in common: Both are Jewish women, and each have two children. They even share the same polling place — the Meadowbrook School in Abington — where each voted on Election Day. But it was the incumbent Schwartz whom voters overwhelmingly chose — which means a third term serving Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district, comprised of much of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia.
The unofficial tally showed Schwartz received nearly 63 percent of the vote to about 35 percent for Kats. Constitution Party candidate John P. McDermott came in a distant third, with about 3 percent.
"She's better known and has been on the scene for a bit longer, so I think that helped," said longtime Schwartz supporter Gloria Hayes Kramer of Rydal.
The county breakdown showed Schwartz, whose fundraising efforts far surpassed her opponent, winning by a 20 percent margin in Montco, but it was within the city limits that she held a 40 percent edge over Kats, who was vying to become the first person born in the former Soviet Union to be elected to Congress.
Kats, who emigrated from Kiev in 1979, and became a successful attorney, was nothing but smiles Tuesday as she proudly noted how her two daughters had helped with their mom's campaign.
Throughout the day, Schwartz greeted voters at multiple stops, before heading over to the Drake Tavern in Jenkintown for her celebratory party. About 100 of her supporters munched on finger foods there and watched the election returns on seven TV screens.
After thanking her staff and volunteers, Schwartz, Pennsylvania's only Jewish U.S. Representative, said she was "really honored" to be able to continue her hard work on their behalf. She added that, when she gets back to D.C., she will continue with her "deep commitment to create economic opportunity," and work to "access quality and affordable health coverage."
"[Schwartz] does what she says she's going to do," said Jeannette Maitin of Meadowbrook, a longtime supporter of the state-senator-turned-congresswoman. "She's what we need, and people respect her, Republicans and Democrats alike."
A World of Difference
The mood was completely different at the Montgomery County Republican Committee bash at the Plymouth Country Club in Plymouth Meeting, where some supporters were already starting to leave by 10 p.m. Although the 200 or so Republicans chatted while they dined on the large buffet spread, the atmosphere in the room was nowhere near as festive as at the Schwartz party. Kats didn't arrive until around 10:40 p.m., when she appeared surrounded by a dozen or so of her supporters.
Kats briefly addressed the crowd but didn't concede, as she wanted to wait until all of the precincts reported in. It wasn't until close to midnight — more than an hour after McCain had delivered his concession speech — that Kats, who didn't have the representative's phone number and asked a reporter for it, eventually called Schwartz to offer her best wishes and extend her 24-7 support to the representative. By then, only about a dozen people remained in the quiet room, the buffet long cleared away and all the chairs stacked along the walls.
Will we see more of Kats? The answer from the Republican was a resounding "yes," but she said she needed time to reflect on the election before making any decisions about her political future.
"Believe me, this country has been good to me," said Kats. "But I wish Allyson all the best, and I am looking forward to going back to my practice and helping people, [but] will keep the friends I made throughout the campaign for a lifetime."
"She would have made history tonight, if she'd won," said Stuart London of Philadelphia and a Kats volunteer. "She left everything behind, spoke no English. Look where she is now. She's a role model for young female Jewish émigrés."
Added Kerry Litvin of Huntingdon Valley: "She's lived the American dream."