Patrick Murphy, a former congressman from Bucks County, announced his candidacy for attorney general today buttressed by the endorsements of dozens of party and union leaders.
In a phone interview, the Democrat, who was the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress, contended that his legal and military backgrounds along with his up-bringing as the son of a police officer make him “uniquily qualified to serve as attorney general.’’
Mr. Murphy ousted Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick from a suburban Philadelphia House seat in the Democratic wave of 2006. After two terms in Congress, however, another political tsunami, the GOP tide of 2010, allowed Mr. Fitzpatrick to recapture the seat. In Congress Mr. Murphy championed the end of the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell regime for gay members of the armed services. He sponsored legislation to provide scholarships for children of police offiers and other public safety personnel killed in the line of duty. Along with Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Chaka Fattah, he was one of the few members of the state’s Democratic hierarchy to back President Obama over Hillary Clinton in the state’s 2008 presidential primary.
As a U.S. Army lawyer, Mr. Murphy served tours of duty in Bosnia and in Iraq before turning to politics. He is a graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre and Widener Univesity law school.
Asked about the timing of his relatively early entrance in the race, he said, “When I ran for Congress, I went through three pairs of shoes. I’m sure I’m going to wear out a few sets of tires as I get out to all 67 counties.’’
Mr. Murphy offered few specifics in outlining his goals for the new office. A statement accompanying the znnouncement he cited the broad, non-controversial goals of combatting white collar and street crime while rooting out public corruption.
A long list of officials endorsing the campaign included county Executive Dan Onorato, Reps. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless; Tim Holden, D-Schuykill; and Chaka Fattah, D-Philadelphia; and state Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill; and Chelsa Wagner, D-Beechview; and more than a dozen county Democratic chairs.
No Democrat has been elected attorney general since the post was made an elected one in the Constitutional revision of 1968. Gov. Tom Corbett bucked the Democratic landslide of 2008 to win a second term in the office. After he was sworn in as governor, Mr. Corbett chose Linda Kelly a former colleague in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of the state as his replacement. Ms. Kelly pledged not to run when the term expires next year.
Two other Democrats are already in the race: former Lackawanna prosecutor Kathleen Granahan Kane, and Dan McCaffrey, the brother of state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey, who ran for Philadelphia DA in 2009. Lynne Abraham, the former Philadelphia district attorney, is also reported to be considering the statewide race.