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No AG Endorsement at Dem State Committee

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Dems cast their votes in the second ballot

State College — Democrats will have an open primary for the office of Attorney General. Campaigns failed to mustered the required two-thirds majority (212 of the 318 voting members) in order to clear an endorsement at the meeting of state committee Saturday.

Facing off were Kathleen Kane, a former prosecutor from Lackawanna County; Dan McCaffery, a former prosecutor from Philadelphia; and Patrick Murphy, a former Congressman from Bucks County.

Late Friday night into early Saturday morning, all three Democratic candidates for Attorney General courted, wooed and whipped votes at the state committee endorsement meeting.

But they all fell short, as the fractured committee members lauded the credibility and viability of each of the three candidates.

Murphy led the first ballot, 161 votes to McCaffery’s 99 and Kane’s 58. There were 2 abstentions.

With Kane dropped from the second ballot by rule, Murphy finished with 191 votes to McCaffery’s 125. Kane’s supporters split between the two candidates.

At various times throughout the weekend, all three candidates and their campaign staffers indicated that they believed no endorsement was likely, and that their focus was preventing an opponent from sneaking a win.

Murphy’s strong performance can be credited to years of ground work and party building; many members spoke of times that he had visited their counties and supported their local party.

He was nominated by Montgomery County Chairman Marcel Groen, and seconded by Kathy Kane (no relation), the Luzerne Co. Chairwoman; State Rep. Mark Longietti of Mercer County, the northwest caucus chairman; and Monica Kline of Lebanon County.

Groen battled back against recent flak Murphy has received for not having taken the Pa. Bar or trying a case in a Pa. court. He emphasized that Murphy, as a JAG officer with the 82nd Airborne, has tried “thousands of cases,” and “prosecuted terrorists.” Murphy took the bar exam in Minnesota, which has reciprocity with Pa., and was admitted to the Pa. Bar in 2004. Groen is a partner with law firm Fox Rothschild, where Murphy is of counsel.

McCaffery’s experience shepherding his brother, Seamus, through the state committee process paid off a bit in that he prevented Murphy from reaching the threshold. He came on strong during the weekend, including a solid performance at the candidates forum on Friday night.

He was nominated by Chuck Pascal of Armstrong County and seconded by Eileen Wagner, former Allegheny County Register of Wills and PJ Monella of Clearfield County.

In the same sense it was a win for Kane, who prioritized the endorsement least of the candidates. She was nominated by Lackawanna County Chairman Harry McGrath and Barbara Daily Danko of Allegheny County.

Much scuttlebutt over the weekend focused on where the Philadelphia delegation, whose Chairman Bob Brady supports McCaffery, would end up. On the first ballot, the city went for McCaffery 40, Murphy 8 and Kane 1. On the second ballot, it was McCaffery 40, Murphy 9.

Asked if they would leave the race if the committee endorsed an opponents, Kane and Murphy said no. Only McCaffery said yes. All three said afterwards that they would continue to seek the nomination.

Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed is the sole Republican candidate. AG Linda Kelly, appointed to fill Gov. Tom Corbett’s term in the office, has said she will not run for the office.

Pa. Rep. Eugene DePasquale of York County, the only candidate for Auditor General, won the party’s endorsement by acclamation.

“It is a true honor to receive the endorsement from the Democratic State Committee,” DePasquale said in a statement. “Democrats share my vision that I will be an Auditor General who will hold Governor Corbett accountable and will protect the interests of Pennsylvania’s working families.”

So too did incumbent Senator Bob Casey and Treasurer Rob McCord.

16 Responses

  1. Career Politician? You mean he is the only democratic candidate for Attorney General that has ever held a public office before. A failed district attorney race for McCaffery and a McCain Democrate (Kathleen Kane) will be written off as we were shown this past weekend. Murphy knows how to win and will stop at nothing to combat a republican governor.

  2. It was really interesting to see the overwhelming support that Murphy received at State Committee. All of that traveling and hard work really paid off. It is difficult to assume someone who fought in Iraq, went to law school, and taught at West point to be a career politician after holding one office for 2 terms. He is also the son of a cop so the hard natured enforcement style must be enriched in his bones, and its shinning through in the race already.

  3. Murphy is a career politician. The AG position is more of a stepping stone for him. Whereas Kane or McCaffery would be focused on an 8 year commitment.

  4. Kathleen, if Murphy was a “shameless careerist” as you claim pre-congress, what are you calling all soldiers who volunteer for duty in Iraq? The swift-boating continues. Why do I have a feeling you never wore the uniform of your country? If you did, you would never go down this road.

    It is almost like the Republicans put Kathleen Kane in the race. Her family has a fortune from Kane Is Able Trucking. One of their largest clients is the PA LCB. I guess the Republicans have a reason not to have a true watchdog get in to Harrisburg. The Democrats are fools if they do not see what she is doing in this race.

  5. Yes, only a “shameless careerist” would take bold positions on things like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and The Affordable Health Care Act and back them up with votes that they know full well would most likely cost then their seat in the next election–but Patrick Murphy still took those hard votes because he believed it was the right thing to do, even though he knew he might be sacrificing his seat. There are plenty of ” careerists ” in Congress who would never do the same as he did or be as brave or willing to sacrifice based on principle. Murphy’s record in this regard deserves our respect and our consideration as we consider AG candidates. And Murphy also deserves an apology from you, “Kathleen”.

  6. Patrick Murphy has proven himself to be a shameless careerist, as proven by his actions pre/post time spent in Congress. I would vote for a recent law school graduate as AG before I would vote for Murphy.

  7. For months, Murphy has been campaigning the old fashioned way – going county to county and meeting people. I give him a lot of credit for his energy, dedication and commitment. I still believe he is the only candidate who would have the guts and strength to stand up against a Republican opponent. And WIN! He is one determined and focused man.

    He got 60% of the vote, which is pretty significant considering the blatant attempt by Dan to unfairly discredit his qualifications.

    Murphy has my vote in 2012!

  8. Steel,
    Someone needs to tell Dan that the Democrats have been putting candidates like him up for 30 years. This is exactly why the democrats have never won. It is a real shame that he has to use his brother’s name 5 times per speech. Newsflash Dan, you are NOT Seamus. Patrick Murphy is far and above the democrats best choice.

  9. Everyone is going to whine and cry when the GOP bashes Murphy for having scant experience… which they will in commercial after commercial. We saw how their distasteful, yet effective ads worked against panella. I guess we will be stuck with this again in the Fall if Murphy does win.

    There should be a “pre-primary” primary for the Bucks Co candidates. Pretty soon they’ll have a whole statewide slate.

  10. Is there anything about the State Treasurer? I was reading this and realized that there was nothing about it

  11. Steel,
    It was McCaffrey who thought he had the endorsement locked up. Murphy received 60% of the vote, probably close to what he will get in April. Glad you are hanging on the words of a supporter who was speaking off the cuff. He made a mistake, just like your candidate did by entering the race.

    Kathleen just thinks she can buy the seat. Not going to happen.

  12. Murphy failing to get the endorsement is fragile to the egos of many HACKS who’ve been cheerleading relentlessly. Was intrigued to hear he “tried thousands of cases” in JAG… accordinging to Marcel Groen.

    I like the experience of McCaffery and his ideas. Kane in my opinion is an excellent candidate, with a great resume and has as much right to be in this as everyone else.

  13. I came to State Committee backing Kathleen. McCaffrey thought he had this wrapped up and as I watched Murphy received over 50% of the first ballot votes, I was impressed by his mass of volunteers. Unfortunately, then I saw Kane’s folks working hard against Murphy so that he wouldn’t get the endorsement. Well I changed my vote for Murphy and now he is my candidate. It is clear that the only people who want Kathleen to stay in the race are her paid staffers.

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