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Third Dem – Former U.S. Rep. Don Bailey – Makes Attorney General Ballot

Don Bailey, 1984. From the archives of the Patriot-News.

Just when you thought it was a two-way Democratic primary race, another candidate made the ballot for Attorney General. Don Bailey, a former Pa. Auditor General and former Congressman originally from Westmoreland County, is officially in the race to be Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official.

A problem with paperwork was cleared up last week, and the Pa. Department of State now lists him on the ballot.

He told PoliticsPA that he is running to be an advocate for the people.

“I have a very aggressive view of the role of the office,” Bailey said. “I think the Attorney General has the duty to represent the interests of citizens, not the interest government which is it doing now.”

Bailey, 66, has had a long career in Pennsylvania politics. A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, he was elected to Congress in 1978. He served two terms before losing a redistricting-forced primary to Rep. John Murtha in 1982. He was elected Pa. Auditor General in 1984, and lost the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 1986. He lost his re-election bid for Auditor to Barbara Hafer in 1988, lost the Democratic primary for Auditor in 1992, and lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Ivan Itkin in 1998.

Since then, he’s served as an attorney based in Harrisburg with a focus on civil rights. Indeed, the Pa. Civil Rights Law Network endorsed his Attorney General candidacy this week.

“I represented tons of public employees, mostly the whistleblower type, and there’s a great deal of public corruption that I think needs to be revealed,” Bailey said.

He mentioned the Penn State sex abuse scandal specifically, and criticized Governor Tom Corbett’s handling of the case.

“I represent a Sandusky victim,” he said.

But he’s also run into some professional trouble. He came close to being disbarred in 2011, accused by the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of bringing frivolous lawsuits.

Westmoreland County Dems

Bailey’s first campaign stop was in his home county on Saturday, where the Democratic committee endorsed former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane. She took 67 votes, Bailey got 36, and former Bucks County congressman Patrick Murphy received 31. It follows up her endorsement from the Beaver County Dems last week.

“We did our due diligence,” said Kane campaign manager Sadie Sterner Restivo on Saturday. “The outcome was what we hoped and expected.”

Westmoreland County Democratic Chairman Dante Bertani said that Bailey’s entry into the race was a surprise.

“It caught me – everyone in the committee – off guard,” Bertani said. “I was surprised, but he’ll be a formidable candidate for sure. A lot of the older people here remember him.”

State of the Race

Bailey has a steep hill to climb. His opponents have a strong head start in fundraising – $2 million on hand for Kane, $1 million for Murphy – and have campaign organizations in place.

One advantage he might have, he said, was familiarity with voters.

“I have significant name ID in Pa. I’ve run statewide before, and appeared on television numerous times,” Bailey argued.

His entry into the race certainly complicates what had looked like a two-person affair, even if it’s not clear who gets the advantage. At first blush, the presence of another Irish man’s name on the ballot cuts into Murphy and leaves Kane the possible advantage of splitting the male vote.

On the other hand, Murphy has done well consolidating support in southeast Pa. in the absence of former Philadelphia prosecutor Dan McCaffery. Kane has worked hard to woo western Pa., and Bailey’s name on the ballot could hamper her efforts on that front.

Both Kane and Murphy campaigns argued that Bailey doesn’t substantially change the dynamic of the race.

“I don’t think this changes the fact that it’s a two-person race,” said Murphy communications director Nat Binns, “between someone who has a long record of fighting for the middle class, and someone who is using her company’s money to try to buy this election.”

“Kathleen Kane remains the candidate with five times as much experience as any other Democrat running for Attorney General.  Regardless of how many Congressmen seek this office, we believe Pennsylvania Democrats want to nominate a prosecutor, not a politician,” said Kane communications director Josh Morrow.

Attorney General candidates are required to collect 1,000 petition signatures, including 100 or more from at least 5 counties. The deadline to challenge Bailey’s petitions – due to the lateness of his getting on the ballot – is Friday, March 2nd.

The Republican candidate is Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed.

12 Responses

  1. Thank all that is good this guy did not win the election. He is not fit for the job and it is well documented that he files frivolous lawsuits without any evidence which is why he is currently suspended for 5 years by the disciplinary board….that alone says alot.

  2. Pa has been waiting a long time for this sso you best better believe we are pulling for Mr Bailey!

  3. Don–

    Kane is from Lackawanna County and worked in Lackawanna County. “Kids for cash” occurred in Luzerne County and Kane had ZERO involvement, nor was she ever implicated as having such because she obviously (as everyone else knows) worked in Lackawanna County. You might want to seriously apologize.. That was way over the top.

    Also, the final vote was objectively 67-36-31. You inaccurately state that “it was less lopsided”. It was.

    Finally, to assert that Kane does not care about those kids at Penn State is a completely reckless, false and inaccurate statement. Both Kane and Murphy have made this a center issue in their campaigns.

  4. Don-

    Thanks for showing everyone what an embarrassment you are with looneytoon
    accusations. No wonder you got stomped so badly in your former home county. I mean Don….
    those are some outrageous fictitious comments towards the end that merit an apology. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

  5. Dear Mr. Bailey,

    I for one am glad you are in this race. Pennsylvania needs a watchdog like you rather than a lapdog like Kane or an amateur like Murphy to keep an eye on the Corbett administration.

    How can those of us who want to help your campaign reach you?

  6. I wish to compliment politico for a fair and balanced article. However there are some things that need to be pointed out. To begin I showed up at Westmoreland County because I had just decided to run. I’m running in part because Kane has committed to the politics as usual which has plagued this state. Further she has no where near the experience I have. The most important enforcement system in our country is the Federal Civil rights law, and there are many who say I am the best in this country. I have been to the U.S. Supreme Court and back and won. I represent hundreds of police officers in First Amendment cases fighting to protect them as whistle blowers exposing public corruption. This is just the kind of reform we need while Corbett destroys the qualify of life in our state and Kane supports him in full. It is not possible she should not know or been aware of “kids for cash” less then 20 miles down the road in Wilkes Barre. I have a duty to run in this election. Pennsylvania doesn’t belong to some ill defined political class. The Attorney Genera’ls office needs a cleaning. Just ask the kids at Penn State that Kane doesn’t want to help. Last, the vote was far less lopsided and even further I am under attack for exposing judicial corruption not filing frivoulous law suits.

  7. Kane makes the comment that she has five times the experience then the others in the race. This is a candiate who donated $500.00 to Tom Corbett. She posts on her own webcite that she would not go after politicans, or attorneys while in the Attorney Generals office because she needs their support to run the office. She supported Republican candidates for judgeships. Kane is clearly running in the hopes to get her name known and seek a judgeship. She isn’t interested in Attorney General, no one has the guts to go after Freed and his connections with his father-en-law Zimmerman who is under investigation in the Hershey trust issues. He covered up corruption in Cumberland Coutny in the case of Col Breslin et al. vs. Wyrick et al. Take a good look at this case and look at the players in it, all friends of Freed who refused to investigate these people. Same old stuff and same old good ole boys club! I hope Bailey wins and taken it away and someone actually does something in this state!

  8. What’s the new Ballot positions with Bailey?

    Can PoliticsPA post a permanent link to the AG race, as well as Senate?

    Also, can PoliticsPA post a running list of endorsements?

  9. “He served two terms before losing a redistricting-forced primary to Rep. John Murtha in 1982. He was elected Pa. Auditor General in 1984, and lost the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 1986. He lost his re-election bid for Auditor to Barbara Hafer in 1988, lost the Democratic primary for Auditor in 1992, and lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Ivan Itkin in 1998.”

    So he hasn’t won an election in 28 years? I imagine no one in the Kane camp, nor the Murphy camp, is losing sleep over this. Still, a crowded primary with one woman generally favors the female candidate — though not always.

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