Saturday, January 14, 2012

Democratic Attorney General Race

The Democratic field for Pennsylvania Attorney General currently consists of Ex-Congressman Patrick Murphy, former Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane, and former Assistant District Attorney Dan McCaffery.

Recently revealed facts prove that Congressman Murphy never took the Pennsylvania Bar Exam. Obviously, this hurt Murphy and created an opportunity for his opponents to attack him. On the heels of that revelation, Murphy released the results of an internal poll. No doubt, to keep supporters from hemorrhaging.

Republicans were quick to pounce. PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement:

“The fact that Patrick Murphy has never taken the Pennsylvania bar exam and has never tried a case in Pennsylvania’s courts shows he has little respect for the Pennsylvania Constitution and should send a message to voters that he is not prepared to be Commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer. If he could not take this small step, we cannot trust him to lock up child predators, elder abusers and drug dealers.

“Sadly, this is just another example of Patrick Murphy being a career politician but short on real experience and he obviously cannot be trusted when it comes to protecting Pennsylvanians. We need an Attorney General whose first thought is how protect our citizens and enforce the law not just try and get elected to a new office.“

The results of the poll demonstrated that Murphy was leading the pack of Democrats seeking the office – particularly in the must-have Philly area. The lineup was Murphy by a wide margin, Kane, and then McCaffery.

If the other campaigns had numbers to prove otherwise, they probably would have used them instead of just rhetoric.

Another vulnerability, and probably a more important one, for Murphy will be his voting record. Murphy was a member of Congress which, of course, means he has one. For instance, Patrick Murphy voted for Obama’s failed stimulus plan, Obamacare, and the Cap and Trade job-killer. Not the type of stuff that will come up in a Democratic Primary, but definitely what you can expect in a General Election. His liberal voting record in Washington is what made him a former congressman. No Democrat will be able to attack him on these items and not run afoul of both Casey and Obama.

Kane has also had some trouble recently. Under the headline, “Kane dumps Randol as Campaign Manager” the Scranton Times reported that candidate Kathleen Kane and campaign manager Liz Randol parted ways. Kane dismissed it as “no big deal” in the story but political observers will likely see it differently. Campaigns are expected to operate under high-stress situations. If the leadership in the campaign can’t keep it together before the race really starts, it’s tough to see how it can handle the race when it gets really hot. If it had to happen though, it is better to have happened when it did.

Kane also recently touted in a press release that she will report $2 million in her campaign coffers for the close of 2011. She does not however reveal the source of the funding.

Tactically, this was both a bold display of strength and a political miscalculation. If the Kane campaign was going to dump this release while her party is dishing about “the rich” she should have released the source of the funding in the release. By not doing that, her campaign allowed the focus to be on whether this demonstrates strength in personal finance, strength in developing relationships with special interest groups, or strength in building a real fundraising apparatus that can propel her campaign moving forward.

It would be interesting to know her position on the Occupy Movement. If she self-funded, does she consider herself in the 1% or the 99%? Considering how much the Occupy movement permeates both labor and the Democratic Party and the President’s proclivity for class warfare, she should probably figure that one out pretty quickly. If she wins the Primary, she could find herself pitted against her Party and her President’s rhetoric – again, if she self-funded.

As for Dan McCaffery, he has yet to really make his mark on the campaign. That might hurt his chances of an endorsement at the Democrat State Committee Meeting this weekend. Not much can be said about his campaign beyond that at this point.

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