Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sister does it for herself (with her husband's money)

Sister does it for herself (with her husband's money)



Way back in the Big '80s, Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox declared musically that "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves."

If they meant that a wealthy woman can pump a lot of family money into her own campaign and win a major statewide primary in the traditional no-woman's-land of Pennsylvania, then Kathleen Kane has indeed come a long way, baby.

In a close race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, Kane -- a former Lackawanna County prosecutor from northeastern Pennsylvania -- upset former Bucks County congressman Patrick Murphy, the candidate of the old-boy network that included supporters like Mayor Nutter and recent ex-governor Ed Rendell.

But Kane had the support of the one male who counted most in this election: Her husband, the owner of a Scranton-based trucking company (non-union, as Murphy aggressively pointed out) with the prosaic name of Kane Is Able. Her husband and other company officials pumped a whopping $2.25 million into the race, which allowed the once-obscure Kane to tout her prosecutorial experience in a series of TV ads.

Winning a statewide primary is a rare achievement for a female candidate in Pennsylvania, historically one of the worst states in the country when it comes to electing women. But her next task is one that until now has proved literally impossible. A Democrat has never won the job of attorney general since it became an elected office in 1980.

This year, the Republican candidate is David Freed, the district attorney of Cumberland County. The winner will replace current attorney general Linda Kelly, who last year was appointed to fill out the rest of the term of Gov. Corbett and promised not to run for a full term.

In some ways, the Kane-Murphy race carried echoes of the epic Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama Pennsylvania primary in 2008. In that race, Murphy -- the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress -- supported Obama while Kane worrked on the campaign of Clinton, who won the state but lost the nomination. In 2012, Bill Clinton returned the favor by campaigning for Kane, the only big-name Democrat to do do.

In the end, though, Kane's self-funded victory may say less about gender or grudge-match politics than it does about the most famous aphorism in the history of Pennsylvania politics, uttered by the Abscam figure Michael "Ozzie" Myers.

Money talks.

Everything else walks.

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About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.


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