Rafferty predicts 2016 win to retore stability to Pa. attorney general office
HARRISBURG — Republican state Sen. John Rafferty is running for Pennsylvania’s highest law enforcement position as a “black cloud” hovers over Attorney General Kathleen Kane, he said Wednesday.
“We’ll win this in November 2016 and bring the Office of Attorney General back to stability,” said Rafferty, a four-term senator from Montgomery County who briefly campaigned for the position in 2012.
Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general, has said she intends to seek re-election.
“The fact there’s been controversy has been undeniable,” said her spokesman, Chuck Ardo. He said Kane “welcomes the opportunity to debate her priorities when the time comes. At the moment, she’s focused on doing the job she was elected to do.”
A statewide grand jury has recommended charging Kane with perjury and criminal contempt for an illegal leak of secret material to a Philadelphia newspaper. She maintains she did nothing wrong.
“Unfortunately, there’s been a black cloud over the attorney general’s office of late,” Rafferty said. “Resources have been committed to addressing other issues that have arisen in that office. … I want to bring integrity back to that office. I want to bring responsibility back to that office.”
A Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday showed Kane’s popularity slightly waning, with about half of voters on the fence. The survey of 556 registered voters showed 18 percent undecided and 34 percent who said they didn’t know enough to form an opinion. Fifteen percent of voters had a favorable opinion, compared to 19 percent in March. Another 32 percent had a strong or somewhat unfavorable opinion of Kane, compared to 29 percent in March.
The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police and the Pennsylvania Professional Firefighters Association endorsed Rafferty, a former deputy attorney general.
“This was an easy decision for us,” said Art Martynuska, president of the firefighters union.
Rafferty could potentially face Republican Rep. Todd Stephens, a former Montgomery County district attorney, in a primary. Stephens said this week he is “seriously considering” running.
Political analysts say two potential Democratic challengers are former Rep. Josh Shapiro, who chairs the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.
Williams prosecuted a case that Kane would not, involving Democratic officials caught taking bribes on videotape by an undercover informant.
Kane said the so-called “sting case” was legally flawed. Williams secured four convictions; two others, Reps. Vanessa Brown and Louise Bishop, are fighting charges of bribery and conflict of interest.
“I’m going to be very firm, but fair,” Rafferty said. “But I’m going to be one who’s not going to tolerate public corruption.”
Sam Janesch is an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association. Staff writer Melissa Daniels contributed.