State Sen. John Rafferty Jr. (R., Montgomery) could become the first GOP candidate to officially enter the 2012 Attorney General’s race.
The attorney and three-term state senator announced his intention to run for the office next year and asked for support from his party’s leadership in a recent letter sent to state committee members. He did not return calls for comment Tuesday but confirmed his intentions to the website PoliticsPA.com in a story that ran Monday.
“I most definitely will,” he told the site, when asked if he would seek the office formerly held by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Should he make an official announcement soon, Rafferty, 58, of Lower Providence, would become the first Republican to throw his name in contention amid a growing field of Democratic candidates.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, Philadelphia attorney Dan McCaffery and Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane have all publicly said they intend to run in their party’s primary.
Although the names of several likely contenders have emerged on the GOP side – including that of Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman – none have made a public decision. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed has come closest floating the idea of his own candidacy at a party meeting in May.
Interim Attorney General Linda L. Kelly has said she will not seek election to a full term, as is the custom for those appointed to interim terms. She replaced Corbett earlier this year, as he left the term to assume the governor’s office.
“There’s no heir apparent on either side. We could have a crowded field,” said Franklin and Marshall College pollster and political analyst G. Terry Madonna. “I think the Attorney General’s race at the moment is still fairly wide open.”
The emergence of a Rafferty candidacy suggests the odds of Ferman entering the race are less likely, party insiders said Tuesday. Both are known as cautious campaigners and a primary with two candidates from Montgomery County could split the region’s vote, they said. Both would be looking to the same factions in party leadership for support.
Although many had seized on Ferman’s growing campaign coffers – more than $266,000 as of her last finance report -- as a sign she might make a statewide run, she said in June she was focused on winning re-election to a second term as district attorney this fall and could not predict what else her future might hold. She does not face an opponent in that race.
According to his latest campaign reporting, Rafferty had about $100,000 in campaign contributions on hand as of June.
First elected to the statehouse in 2002, he previously worked as a deputy attorney general, overseeing the criminal law division and grand jury investigations, before moving opening a private practice focused on education, real estate and zoning law.
Rafferty has previously served as a member of the Lower Providence Board of Supervisors and the Methacton School Board.