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Kane & Murphy Debate at Progressive Summit

Philadelphia — Records were challenged, laws were interpreted and progressive values abounded Friday night, as Attorney General candidates Patrick Murphy and Kathleen Kane faced-off in a lively debate.

The debate held at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, kicked-off the third annual Pennsylvania Progressive Summit. The summit marks the largest gathering of Pennsylvania progressives all year, with hundreds of progressive activists coming together at the Philadelphia Convention Center today and tomorrow to hold workshops, plan political action and of course, debate.

Approximately 150 people showed up to watch the verbal joust between former Congressman Patrick Murphy of Bucks County and former prosecutor Kathleen Kane of Lackawanna County. The crowd, a mixture of Murphy-button wearers and some vocal Kane supporters, were treated to a fiery debate that featured its fair share of disagreements on policy, despite the absence of a candidate from the conservative side.

“The Democrats are here and the Republicans are not, take that as you will,” said SEIU-PA Executive Director and Keystone Progressive Board Chair, Eileen Connelly in her opening remarks.

After brief opening statements, both candidates took turns fielding questions from the audience on topics that ranged from gay marriage to gun control. As the questions rolled along there was plenty of agreement between the candidates on key progressive issues like supporting gay marriage and abortion rights, but it was also clear which topics played to their strengths.

Patrick Murphy’s moment came when questions involving the environment and in particular the fracking debate, were brought up. Murphy received loud applause when he blasted Governor Tom Corbett and other Harrisburg legislators for the their inaction, saying that he would be the leader that would take on these special interests.

“Right now Pennsylvania’s clean air and water are under attack like never before,” said Murphy.

Kane’s turn to shine came when the Penn State scandal was debated. Kane, who has a history of prosecuting child sexual abuse cases as a prosecutor, gave a detailed rundown of what she would of done differently, if she had been the Attorney General when the first allegations against Sandusky came out.

In her closing statement, Kane again brought up PSU again, reminding people that the next Attorney General elected will be handling the Sandusky case.

Although the overall discourse of the debate could be summed up as polite, there were more then a couple direct attacks between Murphy and Kane.

Murphy brought up how Kane had written “a little check” in support of the Corbett campaign when Corbett was running for the Attorney General position (she contributed $500 in Sept. 2008). Kane returned fire with a reminder that Murphy voted for George Bush.

Kane hammered home her record as a prosecutor throughout the debate, while seeking to cast doubt on her opponent’s credentials. The Attorney General position, she said, is an independent office meant for a prosecutor.

“If you want a politician, you should probably vote for Mr. Murphy,” said Kane.

Another point of friction between the two was the subject of campaign financing.  Kane pointed to her and her husband’s financing of the campaign as not a sign of weakness, but a statement against special interests. “No one owns me,” she said.

Murphy talked about his “grassroots army” of 25,000 donors, saying that he “wishes” he could write a $2 million dollar check for himself.

In the end both made compelling cases for why they should be the one to square off against the conservative opponent in November, while acknowledging the high stakes that the nomination brings. Since it became and elected office in 1980, a Democrat has never held the office of Attorney General.

Murphy Wins Straw Poll

However judging by the audience reaction, there is not much separating the two candidates as they hurtle into the next phase of the primary. The results of the straw poll taken by the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit confirm it. The summit announced that Patrick Murphy won a straw poll vote of debate attendees by a margin of 56.1 percent to Kane’s 41.4 percent. 2.4 percent of the audience was undecided.

It was a strong showing for Kane, given the fact that Murphy had home crowd advantage. He is a southeast Pa. native and a hero in the LGBT community as the primary House sponsor of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – one of the gay community’s biggest achievements in the past decade.

That said, Kane wasn’t without a base, either. A significant segment of the progressive electorate is predisposed to supporting female candidates.

18 Responses

  1. As someone who worked for Murphy in 06, I was thoroughly disappointed in the way he conducted himself from August 09-November 10. The Tea Party attacked and he hid out for over a year. We need someone who can win and take the heat.

    I am leaning towards Kane.

  2. David,

    Thank you for opposing Murphy on legitimate grounds. The “Bush Supporter” comment was made by Steelblitz. And it is true, that the two of you represent the strongest Pro-Kane contingent on the site; often using less than accurate assessments to get your point across.

    I have no particular attachment to Murphy, but I respect his record tremendously. I honestly believe that he is exactly the kind of man that we need in the Attorney General’s office.

    As far as scores go, I looked a few up:

    NARAL/Planned Parenthood: 100%
    League of Conservation Voters: 100%
    League of Women Voters: 100%
    AFL-CIO: 100%

    That being said, he does have the type of profile that would enable him to win in November.

    Murphy fought for us, and I will fight for him; but I would prefer if we could discuss issues that actually matter (honestly, who cares about where he took the bar – that’s a cheap shot and whoever uses it knows it). Let’s discuss records, positions on issues, electability – not the BS that I read far too often.

  3. Pittsburghler-
    I didn’t say that Murphy supported the Bush agenda, but he was a blue-dog democrat. He’s got a 57/100 score by Progressive Patriot.

    I don’t find his military legal experience relevant for prosecuting civilian law and I don’t think he’s got enough experience or maturity for the job.

    Law firms love to get former members of congress on board, but it’s mostly for trading on their name than any real legal skill.

  4. Bucks Barrister… you are absolutely right! I forgot that experience as a prosecutor doesn’t count if the people you are prosecuting are terrorists and your jurisdiction is Baghdad.. silly me!

    And I also forgot that being a Constitutional Law Professor doesn’t count either if the course is being taught at West Point.

    Oh, and who cares about Assistant United States Attorney’s.. they barely do anything either right?

    I forgot, at that together and it does in fact equal “zip”.

    Now, 12 years as a prosector in Lackawana, “the Big Leagues” of legal jurisdictions. That is worth waaaaaay more than that stupid stuff Murphy did. Thanks for enlightening me with your brilliant, informed, and insightful commentary!

  5. Clearly, being a JAG officer in Bosnia and Iraq means that Patrick has no experience as a prosecutor. Better that we go for some independently wealthy woman from NEPA that no one in the rest of the state has ever heard of.

    Also, I would like to point out for the record that the Attorney General position is a management position as much as anything. Neither Murphy nor Kane would be in the court room cross-examining Sandusky. What the Attorney General does do is manage prosecutions on behalf of the state — and do small things like negotiate settlements with big tobacco and financial firms. I imagine that might take the skill of a politician to actually do. Why are we complaining about potentially electing a politician to a political job?

  6. The only thing you need to know about Kane. Go ahead trolls and make excuses but this woman is a Republican. If it smells like a duck, its a DUCK.

    Scranton Times-Tribune:

    A brother of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and local Democrats who backed her unsuccessful presidential campaign socialized privately Monday with a top surrogate of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

    The private gathering featured Carly Fiorina, Mr. McCain’s top economic adviser, and took place at the Dunmore home of political consultant Jamie Brazil, a longtime friend of Mrs. Clinton’s family who has signed on as paid national director of Mr. McCain’s Citizens for McCain Coalition.

    The attendees included Tony Rodham, Mrs. Clinton’s youngest sibling, his wife, Megan, and their two children; attorney Kathleen Granahan Kane, who coordinated Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign in Northeast Pennsylvania during the primary election; and Virginia McGregor, sister of Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty.

    You are delusional if you think Murphy is a heavyweight.
    He has zip experience as a lawyer
    He never tried a case here
    his resume is inflated to put it charitably
    trust the Bucks County people who know him best-
    the Office of Attorney General is deserves better

  8. Just want to make sure I read the article right… the writer said it was a deadlock.. but didn’t Murphy win the straw poll 56-41?

    How on earth is that a deadlock?

    Kane has virtually zero support statewide, and is only being propped up by her husband’s ability to finance the campaign.

    I have met both candidates.. and they are both good people and dedicated public servants; but only one candidate is the heavyweight we need to take this office – it is clearly Patrick Murphy.

  9. Besides for the grammatical errors in the second paragraph, I completely agree with Pittsburghler.

    Retired teacher… can’t help it 🙂

  10. It is absolutely ridiculous to call Murphy a Bush supporter. While in Congress, Murphy was one of the strongest voices in the Democratic Party against President Bush’s destructive agenda. He wrote the bill to de-escalate the war in Iraq, he wrote the bill to abolish DADT… to say that he is anything less than a champion of the progressive movement would be patently false.

    The attacks from Kaneiacs like Diano and Steelblitz should wholly disregarded because their obvious lack of interest in what is best for the people of our Commonwealth.

    And by the way, the AP reported in 2008 that Kane was a “Democrat for McCain.” That is one beautiful glass house you guys live in…

  11. “Not a licensed attorney”… Are you kidding me??

    You sir clearly have not been following this race at all, and have made absolutely no attempt to learn the facts.

    Murphy is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania… he is a partner at Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia for goodness sake.

    Hit him on his record or issues if you want… real things; but you should be ashamed of yourself if you continue trying to spread lies like that.

  12. Only a RINO like Bob Gizzardi would support a liberal in the ilk of Nancy Pelosi for Attorney General.
    He truly is a disgrace.

  13. My first time seeing the two of them side-by-side debating.

    Murphy’s a little too cocky by half. He barely answers questions in any details, and get’s by more on his “boyish charm”.

    By contrast, Kane is almost too detailed. She clearly knows the ins and outs of the job and would be ready to work on day one.

    She’s got a lot of experience with child abuse cases, and Murphy doesn’t. There’s a legitimate concern that he could blow the case against Sandusky by failing to follow some protocol in handling the evidence, jury or witnessed that Kane would certainly get correct.

    Murphy is just not as well prepared to handle this responsibility.

  14. One Qualified candidate here… fair assessment is politician and attorney w far less experience w the insiders vs experienced prosecutor with a distinguished record. This would be like picking the jv QB thats the coaches son over the more experienced D 1A recruit. (analogies here???)

    So a George bush supporter v Corbett ??? Cancels out.

  15. Given the fact that the Republican’s candidate for Attorney General is so entwined politically, financially and maritally with LeRoy Zimmerman, former Republican Attorney General, Republican Establishment Insider who is a target of Pennsylvania Attorney General investigation and, at the least, engaged in enriching himself at the expense of the Hershey Trust. , good government Republicans have to consider the Democratic candidates.

    The Senate Bonusgate investigation remains unresolved.

    The lack of any clarity on why it took from 2002 to 2011 to arrest someone accused of child rape has to be corrected.

    Zimmerman, Bonusgate and Sandusky are all entwined with the same Establishment, including the Governor, who endorsed and are promoting Dave Freed for Attorney General. Is Tom Corbett trying to pick his investigator? Is LeRoy Zimmerman trying to pick his investigator? Are the Senate Old Guard trying to pick their investigator.

    It does appear the Kathleen Kane is a real deal prosecutor and independent of party leadership.

    An “independent” prosecutor may be what Pennsylvania needs.

  16. Now why on Earth would the Progressive Democrats nominate someone for Attorney General who is not even LICENSED in Pennsylvania to practice law??

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