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Stabile and Wecht Debate for Superior Court

By Sari Heidenreich, Contributing Writer

Stabile (left) and Wecht

A candidate for Superior Court risked alienating half of his electorate Friday afternoon in debate televised live on PCN. The issue? Football.

“David, Steelers or Eagles?,” Republican nominee Vic Stabile asked his opponent.

“Steelers all the way,” replied Allegheny County Judge David Wecht. “That’s a tough question cuz I risk losing a large chunk of the state,” he laughed.

But Wecht quickly turned Friday’s debate at the Harrisburg campus of Widener University Law School serious when he asked Stabile to sign a pledge he had signed denouncing financial or advertising support from third party interest groups and 527s.

Stabile lives in Cumberland County and practices law in Harrisburg. He was GOP Chairman in Cumberland County for about a decade and is a former Deputy Attorney General. The Associate Press reported earlier last month that he has raised $122,000 and has a cash balance of $49,000. Wetch raised $132,000 and has about $29,000 on hand. Stabile said in an interview that the AP’s number is approximately accurate of of last week; Wecht said he has raised considerably more since the report.

Wecht said he had no indication that third party groups would be getting involved in this race as it enters its final weeks and said the pledge was rather a preventative measure.

Stabile said he has not thought much about the issue of third party money entering the campaign and said he would not sign a pledge for “political expediency” without first taking into account its free speech implications.

Earlier in the campaign, Stabile and Wecht both signed pledges with the Pennsylvania Bar Association to refrain from negative campaigning.

Stabile affirmed this Friday saying, “If that ad, however, is not fair; it is not legitimate; it hits below the belt, you won’t need me to sign a pledge because I will be the first person standing up denouncing it,’ Stabile said. “And I won’t have to put that on a piece of paper.”

In Friday’s debate hosted by Widener University School of Law and Capitolwire, the candidates disagreed on little else, both emphasizing that judges should not legislate from the bench but adhere to previous statutes, the constitution, and higher courts. Both candidates also advocated increased transparency in the judicial system noting that more decisions should be made available online and far too many memoranda are written without a judge’s name attached.

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