Pennsylvania attorney general election, 2012

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The Pennsylvania attorney general election took place November 6, 2012, following a primary on April 24, 2012.

Republican Party David Freed
Democratic Party Kathleen KaneGreen check mark transparent.png
Libertarian Party Marakay Rogers

Kathleen Kane won the general election on November 6, 2012, earning over 56% of the vote. She is the first female and first Democrat to be elected attorney general in Pennsylvania.[1]

The incumbent attorney general, Linda Kelly (R), was appointed by former Attorney General and current Governor Tom Corbett (R) upon his ascension to the governorship in 2010. Kelly chose not to seek election to a full term in 2012, which left Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed unopposed in the party's primary. Bypassing the primary provided the Republican candidate, already supported by the full might of the Commonwealth's GOP, with the luxury of extra time to devote purely to fundraising and preparing his general election strategy. According to GOP insiders, "Freed’s campaign is Gov. Corbett's top electoral priority in 2012."[2]

The Democratic primary contest was settled at the polls on April 24th, with ex-Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County Kathleen Kane edging out the presumptive nominee, Bucks County Congressman and Iraq vet Patrick Murphy, for the win. She went on to face, and defeat, Freed and Libertarian Marakay Rogers in the general election on November 6, 2012.[3]

Operatives for Freed's campaign referred to the Democratic candidates as "the strongest field Democrats have fielded for attorney general"[2] since 1978, when Pennsylvania voters approved a Constitutional amendment that changed the office from an appointed position to an elected position. The first attorney general election was held in 1980; until Kane's victory in November, 2012, no Democrat had ever won the office. (See also: Article IV, Section 4 of the state constitution).

The race was originally rated as a toss-up, but Governing Politics shifted the contest to leaning Democratic as a result of Kane's steady lead in the polls and in fundraising.[4]


[edit]

General Election Results

Attorney General of Pennsylvania General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKathleen Kane 56.1% 3,125,557
     Republican David Freed 41.6% 2,313,506
     Libertarian Marakay Rogers 2.3% 128,140
Total Votes 5,567,203
Election Results via Pennsylvania Department of State.

Primary Results

  • Primary
    • Democrat Kathleen Kane narrowly defeated Patrick Murphy for her party's nomination in the April 24, 2012 primary contest for attorney general. She would face Republican Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed in the general election on November 6, 2012.
Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngKathleen Kane 52.8% 371,862
Patrick Murphy 47.2% 331,778
Total Votes 703,640
Election Results Via:Pennsylvania Department of State (accessed April 25, 2012).


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NewsCalendar

Key dates

  • Administrative deadlines were at close of business (5:00) unless otherwise noted.
Deadline Event
Mar. 26 Voter registration for primary election
Apr. 24 Primary election
Oct. 9 Voter registration for general election
Nov. 6 General election

Race background

General

Heading into the fall, major party nominees' Freed and Kane faced the benefits and drawbacks of independent expenditure political action committees inserting themselves into their campaigns.[5] Each candidate had the backing of a powerful PAC, with which the campaigns were legally prohibited from coordinating, but naturally perceived to be in association. This tenuous relationship came to the fore in late September, when the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, D.C., the PAC backing Freed (R) paid $558,700 to air a television advertisement on select Philadelphia stations containing what turned out to be false attacks on Kane.[6] The RSLC ad cited an example of a plea bargain that had been made in a rape case during Kane's stint at the Lackawanna District Attorney's office, inaccurately portraying her involvement in the deal to make her look "soft" on rape. Being tough on sex-abuse crime was one of the defining themes of Kane's campaign and her identity as a prosecutor; the ad, which stated, “Of Kane’s few cases, a judge rejected a weak plea deal she made because of the brutality of the crime and age of the victim,”[7] was designed to undermine that image. Soon after its release, however, the content of the ad was refuted by the father of one of the two rape victims whose cases were mentioned. Documentation provided by the DA's office confirmed the father's claim that Kane's involvement in the case was purely administrative and ended after the preliminary filing stage, leading the PAC to pull the ad and publicly acknowledge the error.[8] The RSLC removed any reference to the rape case and promptly re-released the edited version, but continued airing the original ad on their website, angering the campaign more. “Freed needs to tell his people to take their ad down immediately and take their special interest money and their dirty tricks and get out of Pennsylvania. The people of Pennsylvania deserve better,” said a campaign spokesman.[9]

After significant prodding by Kane's campaign, Freed's campaign manager commented on the controversy, saying, "It’s our sincere hope that our opponent, as well as any outside groups that are supporting our campaign or our opponent’s campaign, conduct themselves in an honest and ethical manner.” He made no mention of the ad or the implications about Freed's relationship to the PAC.[9]

Primary

Originally a three-way race, the Democratic primary election shrunk to a face-off between former Bucks County Congressman and Iraq vet Patrick Murphy and ex-Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County Kathleen Kane. The original third candidate, Montgomery County's Dan McCafferty, pulled out in mid-January, for the sake of "party unity."[10]

Then, on February 27th, two weeks past the filing deadline, the Democratic ballot swelled again to three candidates when former U.S. Representative and State Auditor Don Bailey formalized his bid for the nomination. The late entry was the result of a paperwork mishap, but he was officially cleared to run by the State Department.[11]

A spokesman for Murphy's campaign said of Bailey's entry, "It doesn't change the fact that this is really a two-person race between Patrick, who has dedicated his life to protecting middle-class families, and Kane, who is trying to buy this election using money from her anti-union company."[12] Kane's camp responded to the swipe with a reminder about Kane's superlative credentials as a prosecutor. Despite Murphy's camp claiming unconcern, "allies" of Murphy's campaign challenged Bailey's nominating petitions, inducing him to retract his bid for the Democratic nomination, rather than contest the challenge in court. Bailey said he would run as an Independent instead, but failed to obtain the requisite number of signatures to secure a place on the general election ballot.[13]


General Election Candidates

Republican Party David Freed Democratic PartyKathleen Kane

Libertarian Party Marakay Rogers (pending confirmation)

Primary Election Candidates

Donkey symbol.png Democratic primary candidates

  • Kathleen Granahan Kane is a longtime community activist and former Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County. Soon after McCafferty dropped out, Kane absorbed his campaign manager, Josh Morrow, into her staff, to serve as her Communication's Director.[19]
  • Patrick Murphy was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he made a name for himself championing the repeal effort for "Don't Ask Don't Tell." He is an Iraq veteran, practicing attorney, and law professor.


Gop logo2.jpg Republican primary candidates

  • David Freed is the Cumberland County District Attorney, and an active member of the Republican party.
Freed spoke at the GOP's annual Lincoln Day Dinner the week of the filing deadline, saying, "Tough times and tough issues call for a tough attorney general; I will be an active attorney general, not an activist."[26] The last comment likely spoke to the contrast between his future Democratic opponent and himself, looking ahead to the general election. The Democratic candidates were well-known activists.
Freed was endorsed by Gov. Corbett, and is the son-in-law of Pennsylvania's first elected attorney general, Leroy Zimmerman, who served two four year terms in the office and has ties to the Governor.[27][28]

Former candidates

Don Bailey

  • Don Bailey was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a former Pennsylvania Auditor General, and a decorated Vietnam veteran. He has worked primarily as a civil rights lawyer in Harrisburg since 1998, when he lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Ivan Itkin. Prior to that election, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1986, for re-election as Auditor in 1988, and again for Auditor in 1992, losing that time in the primary.[29]
Bailey cited his "disappointment" in the selection of candidates as well as pervasive corruption within the AG's office as the purposes of his run. He said "The Attorney General's Office has been a do-nothing office for too long,"[12] and while acknowledging his financial disadvantage and underdog status, Bailey insisted that he could not accept "politics as usual" in Pennsylvania.[12] He originally filed as a Democratic candidate but withdrew his bid for the nomination after Murphy-allies contested his nominating petitions. He intended to run as an Independent instead, but ultimately did not qualify for a place on the general election ballot.[30]

General Election

Polls

Kane VS. Freed
Poll Kathleen Kane (D) David Freed (R)Undecided (n/a for Poll#1)Margin of ErrorSample Size
Zata 3 internal poll
May 7, 2012
48%27%0%+/-3.24916
Public Policy Poll
May 17-20, 2012]
42%33%25%+/-3.8671
PPP poll
July 23, 2012
41%34%25%+/-3.56758
Philadelphia Inquirer Poll
August 28, 2012
40%29%31%+/-4.0601
Muhlenberg College Poll
(September 22-25, 2012)
33%27%38%+/-5.0427
Philadelphia Inquirer Poll
(October 4-8, 2012)
41%29%30%+/-4.0600
The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College
(October 10-15, 2012)

33%28%37%+/-5.0438
Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Poll
(October 17-21, 2012)
39%26%34%+/-5.0444
Susquehanna Polling and Research
(October 29-31, 2012)
48%37%14%+/-3.46800
AVERAGES 40.56% 30% 26% +/-4.12 628.33
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

**Poll#1 was an internal poll commissioned by the Kane campaign and conducted by Zata 3 on April 20 and May 1. The sample is limited to voters with home phones.**

Primary Election

A poll conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group between November 29-December 1, 2011 initially shows candidate Patrick Murphy leading Kathleen Kane in a head-to-head race. Once voters hear short paragraphs with positive information on both candidates (and no negative content on either), the race flips and Kane takes a 16% lead (Kane 51%, Murphy 35% and 14% undecided).[31]

Kane vs. Murphy
Poll Kathleen Kane Patrick MurphyUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Initial Two-Way Ballot
24%40%36%+/-4600
Ballot After Both Kane and Murphy Profiles
51%35%14%+/-4600
AVERAGES 37.5% 37.5% 25% +/-4 600
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

On March 30, 2012, Politics PA conducted an unscientific poll asking readers who they think will win the Democratic primary for attorney general. The results show Murphy as the predicted favorite to win against primary opponent Kathleen Kane.[32]

PoliticsPA Reader Poll
Poll Patrick Murphy Kathleen KaneMargin of ErrorSample Size
Murphy vs. Kane
71%29%+/-0995
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

The PA Progressives Summit released straw poll results for the February 10, 2012 debate between Democratic primary candidates Patrick Murphy and Kathleen Kane, which took place at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City, Philadelphia. "It was the kick-off event of the weekend long Pennsylvania Progressives Summit."[33] The poll had Murphy leading at 56.1%, Kane holding at 41.4%, and 2.4% reporting as undecided.

Primary Debates

PA Progressive Summit Debate: Murphy vs. Kane

A Murphy vs. Kane debate kicked off the Pennsylvania Progressives Summit on February 10, 2012. The debate covered salient progressive issues ranging from gun control to gay marriage and the relative credentials of the two candidates seeking their party's nomination in the April 24th primary. Highlights included:

Murphy
  • Murphy's pledge to make up for the Governor's and State Legislature's failure to take on the special interests responsible for Pennsylvania's "fracking" problem and other environmental externalities threatening the state's air and water supply.
  • Murphy's military record and hero status in the gay community- he was the primary House sponsor of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
  • Murphy recalled that Kane donated $500 to Corbett's campaign in 2008.
  • Murphy said that he “wishes” he could write a $2 million dollar check for himself, and referred to his 25,000 donors as a "grassroots army."[34]
Kane
  • Kane's strong background in prosecuting child sexual abuse cases would give her an edge with handling the high-profile Penn State scandal, reminding the audience that the next AG would be on the Sandusky case.
  • Kane trumpeting her superior record as a prosecutor, saying, the AG "is an independent office meant for a prosecutor; If you want a politician, you should probably vote for Mr. Murphy.”[34]
  • Kane recalled that Murphy voted for George Bush.
  • Kane said "no one owns me," in response to the question of whether financing her campaign personally was a point of weakness."[34]

January 30 Shadyside Democrats Debate

Contents
1 Due dates for reports
2 Candidates

Due dates for reports

The Department of State Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation administers campaign finance law and maintains all records online.

Primary election report deadlines:

  • First report-- due by March 13, 2012
  • Pre-primary-- due by April 13, 2012
  • Post-primary-- due by May 24, 2012

General election deadlines:

  • First report-- due September 25, 2012
  • Pre-election-- due October 26, 2012
  • Post-election--due December 6, 2012

The year-end annual report for 2012 was due by January 31, 2013.

Candidates

David Freed

David Freed Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Primary FirstMarch 13, 2012$0.00$206,152.11$(339.46)$205,662.65
Pre-PrimaryApril 9, 2012$205,662.65$78,082.76$(25,534.47)$257,785.77
Post-PrimaryMay 24, 2012$257.785.77$226,460.79$(34,608.46)$440,176.32
Pre-General FirstSeptember 25, 2012[35]$0.00$206,152.11$(339.46)$205,662.65
Running totals
$716,847.77$(60,821.85)

Kathleen Kane

Kathleen Kane Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Primary FirstMarch 13, 2012$2,009,991.42$58,477.46$(73,479.30)$1,994.909.58
Pre-PrimaryApril 9, 2012$1,994,909.58$71,938.05$(1,433,579.36)$633,268.27
Post-PrimaryMay 24, 2012$633,268.27$178,815.39$(805,560.03)$1,728.82
Pre-General FirstSeptember 25, 2012[36]$1,728.82$1,481,285.56$(250,739.47)$1,221,764.23
Running totals
$1,790,516.46$(2,563,358.16)

Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Primary FirstMarch 13, 2012$1,043,016.65$2,300.00$(33,417.46)$2,871.50
Pre-PrimaryApril 9, 2012$1,043,016.65$307,901.43$(165,240.27)$1,183,177.81
Post-PrimaryMay 24, 2012$415,002.29$474,570.46$(878,801.65)$6,175.47
Running totals
$784,771.89$(1,077,459.38)

See also

Pennsylvania

Articles

See above "News" tab

External links

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References

  1. Philadelphia Inquirer, "Election Results 2012," accessed November 7, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 PoliticsPA, "Burns CM Kelly joins Freed AG campaign," March 8, 2012
  3. PoliticsPA, "McCafferty CM moves to Team Kane," February 20, 2012
  4. Governing Politics, "Attorney General Races: Democrats' odds improving," October 12, 2012
  5. York Daily Record, "AG's race the highlight of Pa. row office contests," October 13, 2012
  6. Philadelphia Daily News, "Rape victim's dad called GOP group's ad about Kane a lie," September 21, 2012
  7. YouTube Channel, "Backpack," accessed September 24, 2012
  8. PoliticsPA, "Father of rape victim rebukes anti-Kane group," September 21, 2012
  9. 9.0 9.1 PoliticsPA, "3 Days Later, GOP Anti-Kane Ad Still Around (Watch Video)," September 24, 2012
  10. PoliticsPA, "McCafferty CM moves to Team Kane," February 20, 2012
  11. PoliticsPA, "Third Dem – Former U.S. Rep. Don Bailey – Makes Attorney General Ballot," February 27, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Philly.com, "Third Democrat emerges in PA attorney general race," February 29, 2012
  13. PoliticsPA "Bailey to run for AG as Indy not Dem," March 10, 2012
  14. David Freed for AG, "Endorsements," accessed February 15, 2012
  15. PoliticsPA, "Burns CM Kelly joins Freed AG campaign," March 8, 2012
  16. Kathleen Kane for AG "Press Release-President Clinton Endorses Prosecutor Kathleen Kane for Pennsylvania Attorney General," March 26, 2012
  17. The Associated Press, "Murphy, Kane, bring contrasting backgrounds to Democratic race for attorney general," April 14, 2012
  18. Cumberland Link, "Murphy backs Kane for PA attorney general," May 15, 2012
  19. PoliticsPA, "McCafferty CM moves to Team Kane," February 20, 2012
  20. The Associated Press, "Murphy, Kane, bring contrasting backgrounds to Democratic race for attorney general," April 14, 2012
  21. PoliticsPA, "Philly *Dems line up behind Murphy," February 2, 2012
  22. Bucks County Courier Times, "Bucks Democrats endorse candidates," February 7, 2012
  23. Bradenton Herald, "AFSCME Council 13 Endorses McCord, Murphy, DePasquale and Casey," March 14, 2012
  24. PoliticsPA "LGBT groups endorse in 2012 primaries," March 29, 2012
  25. The Scranton Times-Tribune, "Clinton backs Kane but AFL-CIO goes for Murphy," Marc 27, 2012
  26. Thedailyreview.com, "Candidates for Pa. Legislature, statewide office speak in Wysox," February 21, 2012
  27. 90.5 Essential Public Radio, "David Freed Unopposed as GOP State Attorney General Candidate," February 20, 2012
  28. San Francisco Chronicle, "In AG race, GOP's Freed favors video as evidence," July 27, 2012
  29. PoliticsPA, "Third Dem – Former U.S. Rep. Don Bailey – Makes Attorney General Ballot," February 27, 2012
  30. PoliticsPA "Bailey to run for AG as Indy not Dem," March 10, 2012
  31. Benenson Strategy Group Kane-Poll-Memo, "Recent Pennsylvania Attorney General Primary Election Polling, " January 30, 2012
  32. PoliticsPA "Reader poll-Murphy runs away with AG race," March 30, 2012
  33. NBC 10 Philadelphia, "Murphy vs. Kane Debate," February 10, 2012
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 PoliticsPA, Kane & Murphy Debate at Summit," February 11, 2012
  35. Pennsylvania Department of State, "Campaign Finance Reports," accessed OCtober 26, 2012
  36. Pennsylvania Department of State, "Campaign Finance Reports," accessed OCtober 26, 2012