DA endorses ousted congressman for AG

District Attorney Seth Williams last week endorsed Patrick Murphy in next year’s Democratic primary for state attorney general.

Murphy served in Congress from 2007–10 before losing his seat to Republican Mike Fitzpatrick.

“Patrick understands that we owe it to Pennsylvanians to prevent crime, not just punish it,” Williams said. “That means tackling the problems that lead to crime and providing alternatives to young people so we can keep them out of the criminal justice system.”

Other possible Democrats candidates include former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Granahan Kane and Dan McCaffery, who finished second to Williams in the 2009 primary. Williams challenged Abraham in 2005. He is not close to either McCaffery or Abraham.

Possible Republican candidates include state Sen. John Rafferty of Montgomery County, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Since state voters began electing attorney generals in 1980, Republicans have won every race.

A paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Murphy served in Iraq in 2003.

In Congress, his biggest accomplishment was leading the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — implemented by President Bill Clinton — that prevented gay men and women from serving openly in the military.

When Murphy, who grew up in Parkwood and graduated from Archbishop Ryan High School, announced his candidacy on April 20, he produced a list of supporters that included elected officials, party leaders and labor unions.

The list features U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, state Rep. Tony Payton and party chairmen and chairwomen in 15 counties.

Since leaving Congress, Murphy has worked as a partner in the Fox Rothschild law firm and taught at Widener Law School. He lives in Bristol with his wife, two young children and dog.

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Also in 2012, candidates for the state Senate and House of Representatives will run in districts that will look different following the upcoming reapportionment process.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has appointed Superior Court President Judge Emeritus Stephen J. McEwen to chair the Legislative Reapportionment Commission.

“This court has full confidence in his ability to lead the reapportionment commission with fairness, lending to the forthcoming task his superb problem-solving skills and keen ability to mediate differences,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille.

McEwen is a former district attorney in Delaware County. He is the second consecutive Superior Court judge appointed to chair the commission. In 2001, Frank J. Montemuro chaired the commission.

The executive director of the commission will be Charlie O’Connor, a lawyer and former president of the Friends of Summerdale Civic Association. O’Connor worked under Montemuro a decade ago.

The commission’s preliminary organizational meeting was held in Harrisburg last Wednesday, May 11.

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A recent survey by Public Policy Polling showed U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. with weak approval ratings, but large leads over potential Republican opponents. Only 39 percent of voters approve of the job he’s doing while 35 percent disapprove.

Still, he leads seven potential opponents by anywhere from 12 to 23 percentage points. He tops former Sen. Rick Santorum (49–37), state Sen. Jake Corman (51–35), U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (50–32), Tea Party activist Laureen Cummings (51–32), U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (51–31), state Sen. Kim Ward (50–29) and attorney Marc Scaringi (51–28).

Only Scaringi, of Perry County, has announced his candidacy. Santorum, who was unseated by Casey in 2006, is running for president. Gerlach and Dent are unlikely to run.

Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or twaring@bsmphilly.com