AG Oppo Dump

The Democratic primary for Attorney General has not been high-profile to date, but behind the scenes both campaigns have been hard at work trying to define each other. Kathleen Kane says Patrick Murphy is too inexperienced to be AG, while Murphy says Kane is too conservative to be a Democrat.

Kane served as assistant Lackawanna County District Attorney, Murphy, of Bucks County, served in Congress.

Side note: be sure to check out this weekend’s Inquirer article about this race. It captures the campaign’s primary dynamic: Kane is running a traditional AG race based on prosecutorial credentials, while Murphy is running as a party warrior hoping to expand the role of the office.

Back to the oppo: here’s the latest on what the campaigns are saying.

1. Kane camp: Murphy too inexperienced to be AG.

Kane seized upon news that Murphy has not taken the Pa. bar exam or tried a case in Pa, even challenging him to sit for the test. Kane, meanwhile, has prosecuted over 3,000 cases. He doesn’t have the resume to be the state’s top prosecutor, let alone compete with Republican hopeful Dave Freed, Cumberland County’s District Attorney.

Furthermore, her camp contends that Murphy took the bar in Minnesota rather than Pa. because it is easier there. The rate of passage in that state is about ten percent higher.

Murphy response: Murphy prosecuted terrorists.

Murphy says that his military service put his on a unique career trajectory. He was in the JAG corps of the U.S. Army. In Baghdad, he successfully prosecuted Sheikh Tohma and Sheikh Moyad, each accused of terrorist activity.

He says he took the bar in MN on the advice of an officer who told him that state’s results come in faster. He was admitted to the Pa. Bar in 2004, based on his MN bar exam and his JAG service. He concedes that he has not tried a case in Pa.

2. Murphy camp: Kane’s company is anti-union.

A few weeks ago, the Murphy camp sent out a few quotes from executives of Kane is Able, a trucking and warehousing company, which are critical of labor unions. It matters, they say, because company executives (including Kane’s husband) are her campaign’s strongest financial backers (over 95 percent of her total contributions to date).

Kane response: She vocally supports unions; her relatives don’t speak for her.

“I grew up in a working class family, the daughter of the President of AFSCME Local 2584. … I’m pro-union because it’s in my blood and because I believe that America does best when it has a strong, growing middle class. I support the Employee Free Choice Act and as Attorney General, I will vigilantly defend the right to organize,” she told Capitolwire.

Additionally, she noted that Murphy’s law firm Fox-Rothschild boasts on their website that they “design and implement union avoidance programs.”

Her distance from the company, however, is questionable. Kane’s campaign additionally says that Kane herself has not been affiliated with the company. As Pa. Progressive’s John Morgan notes, that is at odds with several campaign finance filings by campaigns to which she has contributed. Those list her alternatively as an executive and an attorney with Kane is Able.

3. Murphy camp: Kane supported McCain over Obama, gave $ to Corbett

At a number of public appearances, Murphy has accused Kane of undermining President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 when she – a campaign coordinator for Hilary Clinton – met with a surrogate for John McCain’s campaign.

Additionally, they note that Kane contributed $500 to Tom Corbett’s 2008 re-election effort for Attorney General.

Kane response: I never voted for a Republican for President; Murphy voted for George W. Bush. I mostly gave money to Democrats.

The ‘Kane for McCain’ meme traces back to August of 2008, when Kane and other prominent northeast Pa. Hilary supporters met at a social with Carly Fiorina, then the McCain campaign’s economic adviser. From the report:

Mrs. Kane said her presence at the gathering should not be read as a sign of support for Mr. McCain.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’m trying to get as much information as I can on both of them,” she said when asked if she’s backing Mr. McCain. “I would have loved to see her as president. We still have a week to go. You never know what’s going to happen at the convention. I think she would be a fantastic choice (for vice president).”

She had company. In the wake of the 2008 primary, many Clinton-supporting Democrats in Pa. and elsewhere took time to warm to Obama. But it doesn’t appear Kane was a “PUMA” (the term for Hilary supporters who flipped to the GOP – party unity my a**). PoliticsPA was unable to find any evidence of Kane saying anything after the convention that favored McCain or criticized Obama.

And Murphy did vote for Bush. In his book Taking the Hill, Murphy wrote that he voted for Bush in 2000, “having been duped by his ‘compassionate conservate’ agenda.”

As for the $500 to Corbett, indeed Kane did contribute to his re-election effort in 2008. The overwhelming majority of her political contributions (and her husband’s) have to Democrats.

Mrs. Kane: $15,500 to Hilary Clinton, Bob Casey, Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak, and more.
Mr. Kane: $22,200 to Chris Carney, Bob Casey, Pat Casey for Congress, and more.

Update: The Murphy campaign notes that the Kanes contributed $18,200 to District Attorney Andrew Jarbola over the past decade, plus $715 in donations to two other GOP candidates.

12 Responses

  1. I am unimpressed with Kane for several reasons:

    First: She donated to Corbett’s campaign – a governor who has since signed the suppressive Voter ID law, and who disrespected the rights and dignity of every woman in PA with his views on the forced ultrasound bill.

    Second: An endorsement by Bill Clinton is fine – but don’t forget that Hillary is from Wilkes-Barre (Kane’s area), and that Kane was part of the Hillary team in 2008. I think Clinton was kindly returning a political favor, and nothing more.

    As far as Murphy’s experience: he is an experienced champion of the working men and women in our state. He has fought for fairness and equality issues from day one. He has no fear of confrontation if he sees a wrong that needs to be righted. He is sincere, principled and energetic. He IS an attorney. He was a JAG, and he prosecuted terrorist cases.

    Ms. Kane is hung up on “prosecution experience.” The AG doesn’t prosecute cases. They set up the prosecution team, administrate, set the agenda and organize.

    I’ve seen Murphy go up against tried and true Republicans in nasty campaigns. He’s the only candidate that could give it a real shot.

  2. I am glad you just concluded you want to come down against Murphy! It is nice that you have finally made up your mind, as it is clear you have been on the fence for so long!

    HIs Congressional record is solid. Not perfect, but solid. I am thoroughly convinced that he is the right guy to defend labor, women’s rights, civil rights, and keep the streets safe.

    You need to remember, the AG doesn’t need to be a hardcore prosecutor. It’s not like Kathleen Kane is going to be cross-examining Jerry Sandusky. They have prosecutors with 3x the experience as Kane for that.

    The AG sets priorities and manages the office; and I trust Murphy’s priorities far more than Kane.

  3. WashPA-

    Murphy’s congressional record gives me some serious concerns and ultimately I have to conclude he is not the best choice for AG. Btw… I’ve even heard some grumblings in Bucks about it. Folks are looking at that and under their breath alot of people are saying the guy is no where near as qualified. Some others have concerns w electability statewide, ESP. after he was beaten so badly by Fitzy in 2010.

    His “lifetime of experiences” slogan is meant to fill the void and distract that he’s not qualified to be AG.

    Perhaps a more fitting slogan would be “lacking legal experiences” or “lacking the specifics”

    Btw…. I’m hearing abysmal turnout in SE (again). Oh no!!!!

  4. Kane gave 10k to Rendell, but Rendell still strongly endorsed Murphy… I think that really speaks to how strong of a candidate Murphy is.

  5. Kane doesn’t stand a chance against Freed!

    For goodness sake, she is running a traditional Democratic campaign for Attorney General – and Democrats have never won the seat!

    She was a full-time ADA for 6 years, and David Freed is a career DA!. We will lose the prosecutor argument regardless, but we can win with Murphy because he is dynamic.

    Murphy prosecuted terrorists in Baghdad. This is not up for debate, it is a cold hard fact – unless Diano, Steelblitz and Corbett want to continue their smear campaign against Murphy.

    He was an extremely effective congressman and voted his principles, even if it meant losing reelection. Murphy is a class act and he is exactly who we need in the AG”s office.

  6. Yes vote Kane, as long as you want Corbett’s political ally in the AG’s office….

  7. Kane all the way! Dont drink the Murphy Kool Aid… otherwise you’ll end up with a candidate with less on the job experience… aside from stains.

  8. That Kane gave 5 cents to Corbett is enough for me to never vote for her. She supported that gutter ball low life hack Corbett?? I guess Corbett would prefer to have his friends as the Republican and Democratic candidates for AG.

  9. If you want 8 years of a republican, then Dems should vote for Murphy. If you want PA to break the cycle, and elect its first Democrat, and first woman AG, then Dems must support Kathleen Kane in this primary. Interesting to note that if Dems are unfortunate enough to have Murphy as the AG candidate in the fall, in addition to handing the AG office to Repubs, it will be the first time where repubs have out-diversified the Dems in their statewide ticket – Rs have a female presence on their ticket; Dems would not.

  10. ‎”Murphy says Kane is too conservative to be a Democrat” Hmm…. I Murphy trying to make Kane’s case that Murphy is too political for the office?

    Does the Murphy campaign know that Kane gave something like $10,000 to Rendell’s campaign?

    I bet that’s more money that he and everybody on his staff gave to Rendell.

  • Who are you voting for in the PA Supreme Court race?

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