Don Bailey, who served as a Congressman and Pa. Auditor General, will not seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. After his nominating petitions were challenged by allies of Patrick Murphy, he withdrew and said he’ll run as an independent.
Laura Olson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke the news Friday.
The announcement turned the AG primary back into a two-person race between Kathleen Kane, a former prosecutor from Lackawanna County, and Patrick Murphy, a former Congressman from Bucks County.
The Republican candidate is Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed.
Bailey’s campaign was under the radar until late February when he submitted his nominating petitions and competed for the Democratic Committee endorsement in his home county of Westmoreland.
However, his nominating petitions were challenged by Sean Miller, Monica Kline and Dennis Balbac. He withdrew rather than contest the challenge in court on March 21.
It appears to be the work of Murphy allies. Kline is a Democratic state committeewoman (and daughter for former Pa. Lt. Gov. Ernie Kline) who seconded Murphy’s nomination for the party endorsement during January’s meeting. Balbac is a business partner with Kline at her alpaca farm. Miller contributed $500 to Murphy’s campaigns for Congress.
The thinking was likely that the presence on the ballot of Bailey, another man with an Irish name, would take votes from Murphy and thus boost Kane.
Pennsylvania has a high hurdle for independent and third party candidates to gain ballot access in statewide campaigns. Hopefuls must gather petition signatures numbering 2 percent of the highest vote-getter in the previous statewide election.
In 2011, that was David Wecht for Pa. Superior Court. He won 1,030,004 votes, meaning Bailey will need 20,601 petition signatures to make the ballot by the August 1 deadline.
Bailey, 66, has had a long career in Pennsylvania politics. A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, he was elected to Congress in 1978. He served two terms before losing a redistricting-forced primary to Rep. John Murtha in 1982. He was elected Pa. Auditor General in 1984, and lost the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 1986. He lost his re-election bid for Auditor to Barbara Hafer in 1988, lost the Democratic primary for Auditor in 1992, and lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Ivan Itkin in 1998.
However, Bailey’s competitiveness is up for debate. He last won an election in 1984, and in recent years has come under scrutiny. Legal proceedings to revoke license to practice law are ongoing. In response, Bailey has alleged a sweeping conspiracy – a, “far-reaching, decades-spanning cabal.”
On Friday he was awarded the “Benchslap of the Day” by national legal blog Above the Law:
In a ruling from earlier this week, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania doesn’t waste time tearing the plaintiff apart (citations omitted):
This case, which comes before us for consideration of Plaintiffs’ motion that this Court recuse itself in this case, inspires “a profound sense a tragedy”, compels us, once again, to consider the unfortunate professional trajectory of plaintiffs’ counsel, and requires us to reflect upon the recurring, and wholly regrettable, themes that now mark his practice in this and other litigation before this Court.
At the outset, this motion reveals the apparent inability of counsel to take to heart the Court’s prior admonition to consider, “the wisdom of Albert Einstein, who once stated that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the highest form of folly.” Here, counsel pursues Einstein’s folly by filing a motion which is essentially identical to several pleadings that were previously considered-and rejected-by this Court in this, and other cases. Indeed, in this motion counsel repeats an argument which counsel himself conceded one year ago had no basis in fact.