Democrat Kane takes party nomination in Pa. Attorney General's race, first woman to ever do so

By Jon Campisi | Apr 27, 2012

A former assistant county prosecutor from Northeastern Pennsylvania will be heading into November’s general election after she won her party’s nomination for state attorney general following Tuesday’s primary election.

Kathleen Kane, 45, of Clarks Summit, Pa., who worked as an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County for more than a decade, defeated former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Bucks County in the Democratic contest for Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor, according to election returns and local news reports.

Murphy, of Bristol, Pa., currently a partner at the Philadelphia law firm Fox Rothschild, had won the backing of some big players, such as the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 in Philadelphia.

The former congressman from suburban Philadelphia is well known around southeastern Pennsylvania.

Murphy served in Iraq early last decade as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and he successfully led the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of gays serving openly in the military during his time in Congress upon his return from the war.

Despite his star power, however, Murphy apparently couldn’t overcome Kane’s own prestige; she recently received the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton during a recent rally in suburban Philadelphia.

Kane, who spent the campaign denouncing Murphy’s actual courtroom experience in Pennsylvania, (Murphy has admittedly never actually tried a case in the commonwealth), will go on to face Republican David Freed in November.

Freed, currently the Cumberland County District Attorney, ran unopposed in his party’s primary.

In a video posted to his Facebook page that was made during an April 17 Lancaster County GOP dinner, Freed downplayed the endorsements that had been given to both Kane and Murphy, saying Kane’s backing by Bill Clinton and Murphy’s support by President Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod were examples of politicians getting involved in a state race that shouldn’t have anything to do with politics.

To distinguish himself from the two Democrats, Freed noted that he secured the backing of important figures in local legal circles.

“I’m endorsed by Lancaster County D.A. Craig Stedman,” he said to applause, “and in excess of 40 of my other district attorney colleagues across the state.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State website, Kane walked away with 52.9 percent of the vote Tuesday while Murphy gained 47.2 percent of the vote.

The unofficial results, listed on the website’s election returns page, came with 99.18 percent of districts reporting statewide as of Tuesday night.

Kane’s win was historic in that it was the first time since the Attorney General’s post became an elected position in 1980 that a female was nominated to the position, which has also historically gone to a Republican.

Since both Kane and Cumberland County’s Freed have ample prosecutorial experience in Pennsylvania, the November race is shaping up to be a highly anticipated contest.

“Both candidates have good prosecutorial backgrounds, and in the past, Democrats have run political types, not prosecutors,” G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political analyst at Franklin and Marshall College, told the Philadelphia Inquirer Tuesday. “The Republicans have always run tough law-and-order prosecutor types.”

On her own Facebook campaign page, Kane posted a brief statement Tuesday night that thanked supporters for getting her the nod.

“Thank you to all of my loyal supporters across this great commonwealth!,” she wrote. “I couldn’t have won without you!!! On to the general election.”

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