Kicking off the final weekend before Tuesday's primary, there was a tiny crowd to greet Democratic attorney general candidate Patrick Murphy this morning at the United Steelworkers Hall in Bethlehem.
The 15 diehard party members who showed up to the last-minute event were mostly county and local committee members, including the Lehigh and Northampton county chairs and Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan.
But the first person through the doors aside from one or two of the union members hosting the former Bucks County congressman was John Morganelli -- the Democratic nominee in the 2008 attorney general's race
This is the first attorney general contest since 2000 that Morganelli, who is the district attorney in Northampton County, where most of Bethlehem is located, is not seeking election.
Standing atop a set of stairs in the steelworkers' hall (where the brief event was moved from the large auditorum due to the turnout), Morganelli said he believes Murphy is "eminently qualified to be the next attorney general."
"The attorney general sets the policies, sets goals for the office," Morganelli said. "He has an agenda that's going to expand this office, that's going to make this office stronger for average folks and not just be a super-DA for the state as it has been under Republican rule for the last 32 years."
Murphy, who faces former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane, gave a recap of his view for the office, telling the gathering that he wants to focus on aiding working families, offering more protections for elderly residents, and investigating environmental violations.
"We've had 3,300 environmental violations in the last five years," he said. "There's cases where there's tankers full of frack fluid, which is dangerous to the human body, illegally dumped and records falsfied. Of the 3,300 violations, how many went to jail? Zero. We can't keep looking the other way."
(The most prominent case I've found fitting this description is one brought by the state attorney general's office last year, in which a Greene County man was charged with illegally dumping millions of gallons of Marcellus Shale wastewater, sewer sludge and greasy restaurant slop. He pleaded guilty in February.)
Murphy gave few specifics afterward on what the office needs to do more of to help seniors, and while he said he'd need to take a closer look at the zoning rights cases stemming from the new shale drilling law, noted that several environmental groups have endorsed him.
As for the the internal polls from his opponent, he was optimistic about his chances statewide and in Allegheny County: "We're in very good shape."
Both county chairs who were present said there is strong support here for Murphy, whose former congressional district is not far away, and that the Kane campaign has not been active in the area.
The region does have a Democratic congressional battle between U.S. Rep. Tim Holden and opponent Matt Cartwright that may help boost turnout further down ballot. Activists at the event said Democratic volunteers were out canvassing for that race as well as for Murphy, who also is receiving assistance from Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America volunteers.
After the event, he headed to another event with Mayor Callahan, and will end the day back in the Philadelphia area. His final event will be some late-night stumping at pubs and bars there.