Race For Attorney General Expected To Be 'Bruising'

Dec 28, 2015

The state attorney general candidates. Top row, L-R: State Sen. John Raffery (R-Montgomery) and former prosecutor Jack Stollsteimer (Democrat). Bottom row, L-R: Pittsburgh attorney Dave Fawcett (Democrat) and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli (Democrat).
Credit 90.5 WESA

All three Pennsylvania row offices will be up for election in 2016.

Usually candidates vying for attorney general, auditor general and treasurer have a hard time getting attention; most voters are focused on the presidential race. 

But this year the race for attorney general is expected to draw a great deal of attention. 

Current Attorney General Kathleen Kane faces criminal charges for allegedly leaking information to a grand jury and then lying about it. Kane's law license was suspended in the wake of the “porngate” scandal, which pundits say makes it all but impossible for her to run for a second term.

Four Democrats have announced bids for the seat. Two Republicans launched campaigns, but one has already bowed out of the contest. More candidates are expected to emerge in the coming weeks.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that we are going to see a very spirited contest,” said Franklin and Marshall University Center for Politics and Public Affairs Director G. Terry Madonna. “There could be a bruising Democratic primary in the offing.”

And all of this is for an office with a very limited track record. The position was appointed since its inception in colonial days, but in 1980, the office was taken out of the governor’s control and placed into the hands of the voters. Kathleen Kane was the first Democrat ever elected.

“The Republicans are obviously going to make an argument that the Democrats can’t be trusted with the attorney general’s office,” Madonna said.

90.5 WESA spoke to four of the candidates.

State Sen. John Rafferty

Private attorney Dave Fawcett

Private Attorney Jack Stollsteimer

North Hampton County District Attorney John Morganelli

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala threw his hat into the Democratic ring this month, but did not make himself available for an interview.