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In Dem AG Debate, Style Was the Biggest Difference

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

None of the candidates emerged as a clear winner of the Attorney General debate on Friday evening, hosted by the Pa. Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Former assistant Lackawanna DA Kathleen Kane, former assistant Philly DA Dan McCaffery, and former Congressman Pat Murphy faced off for 45 minutes during the winter endorsement meeting of Democratic state committee.

Kane stuck to her resume: the former prosecutor who has tried over 3,000 cases. She hammered her background from her job as assistant DA.

Murphy was the passionate liberal warrior, talking about Dems’ need to field the strongest candidate, and Republicans’ efforts to harm working families.

McCaffery also emphasized his resume as a prosecutor and was vocal in his criticism of special interests. Of the three candidates, he offered the most specific ideas for managing the AG’s office.

His details paid off.

Speaking to a dozen random committee members after the event – each of whom said they had yet to decide who they support in the race – there was the sentiment that McCaffery came out ahead.

“He has good, focused answers,” said Sullivan County Chairwoman Germaine Donahue. “I thought he sounded like he had the best plan.”

A few tidbits from conversations with committee people:

Rep. Bob Brady has reportedly released the Philadelphia delegation to vote how they like in the Attorney General race. If true, it could be good news for Murphy, who can pick up some of the liberal committee members.

There is likely to be a thin showing from the NEPA delegation, which is bad news for Kane. Even still, the aren’t unified for her. The caucus chairman, Joe Long of Northampton County, sent out a letter months ago endorsing McCaffery.

Kane’s supporters, if she is knocked off after the first ballot, seem likely to trend toward McCaffery.

Update: Brady tells PoliticsPA that no Philadelphia delegates have been released, and that the Philadelphia delegation will be supporting McCaffery.

“I love Patrick,” he said. “I’m in a tough spot. But I’m a Philly guy. I gotta be for the Philly guy.”

He added that he thinks it is unlikely that state committee will endorse in the race.

11 Responses

  1. It is to bad that after the first vote at state committee that two candidates joined forces to keep another one from getting the nomination. Do they remember that they are all from the same party? Or is it that Kane’s support for John McCain back in 2008 is coming back to bite true dems. Someone needs to ask Kane straight up if she is pro-life, because she has done a good job of beating around the question.

  2. Just about everyone I talked to thought that Murphy and Kane did best in the Friday candidates forum.

    Also, Brady ended the Philadelphia Caucus meeting by stating he would not retaliate against anyone who did not vote for McCaffrey: “I do look at the names on the ballots but I won’t hold it against anyone if you don’t vote for McCaffrey.” (Delegates must sign their names to the ballots.) Reassurance or veiled threat? You decide. See my report on January 2012 PA Democratic State Committee meeting at

  3. @MontCo Dem:

    Full disclosure: I worked for Patrick’s 2008 re-elect, but have nothing to do with his campaign now.

  4. @MontCo Dem:

    Yes, AG is a law-enforecement job, but it’s not as if the AG is out prosecuting drug runners or people who skip bail. And “liberal warrior” is not the way Murphy would describe himself; it’s the way PoliticsPA decided to describe him.

    Looking to New York State. Eric Schneiderman is their current AG, who is doing a phenomenal job going after mortgage fraudsters and trying to win back money and justice for the residents of his state. His experience prior to being elected AG was to serve as a state senator for 11 years.

    If you don’t think that accepting a cover-your-ass pleas from Wall Street fraudsters — without any admission of guilt or wrongdoing — wouldn’t hurt working families, I imagine AGs Eric Scheiderman, Kamala Harris, Beau Biden, Catherine Cortez Masto and the rest of those state attorneys general seeking real economic justice in America would disagree with you.

  5. The State Committe vote today is likely to be just about what the final tally will be, Murphy will get above 50% with the other two splitting the vote. Dan couldn’t finish in the top 2 in the Philly DA’s race when he was endorsed by the party and had all the labor behind him. He might be looking at another 3rd place finsih.

  6. “Murphy was the passionate liberal warrior, talking about Dems’ need to field the strongest candidate, and Republicans’ efforts to harm working families.”

    I would choose not have a “liberal warrior” to be our Attorney General. He’s wants to be a prosecutor, not a public defender. Also, its a stretch to say that the Republican AG candidate could “harm working families”. He needs to end his legislative and policy based rhetoric. This is a law enforcement job, and PA citizens want experience and specifics when it comes to their criminal laws. This article leads me to believe that Murphy had no specific ideas or experiences he could point to in order to show he would be the best candidate.

  7. Bob- You screwed the party with your support for the GOP congressional redistricting. You need to be “released” from your position as Philly Chairman (and as a congressman).

  8. Congressman Bob Brady: no delegates have been released from our delegation, whoever reported this, reporteded it inaccurately and never spoke with me.

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