Pa. attorney general hopefuls debate experience, independence, and moving office past Kane

Candidates for Pennsylvania attorney general (from left) Josh Shapiro and John Rafferty. (NewsWorks and AP file photos)

Candidates for Pennsylvania attorney general (from left) Josh Shapiro and John Rafferty. (NewsWorks and AP file photos)

With just two weeks to Election Day, the candidates for Pennsylvania attorney general debated over who’s better suited to take over a troubled office.

Even though she wasn’t present, former Attorney General Kathleen Kane dominated the conversation — at the very moment Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican John Rafferty were making their cases at Widener University, Kane was awaiting sentencing for her perjury conviction.

She was ultimately sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail.

As they’ve done throughout their campaigns, Rafferty and Shapiro repeatedly sought to link one another to the disgraced Democrat.

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“I am running against Kathleen Kane in a suit,” Rafferty said at one point. “Someone with even less experience than Kathleen Kane.”

Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County commissioners board, had barbs of his own. He called Rafferty, a state senator who represents parts of Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties,  a government insider, and tried to paint him as  beholden to the GOP.

“John is captive to the special interests within his party,” he said. “He is stuck on the ticket with Donald Trump, and he’s trying to benefit from the fear-mongering that Donald Trump is doing throughout parts of Pennsylvania.”

They also spent considerable time trying to prove their commitment to the office of the attorney general. Both denied that they’d use the position as a way to advance their careers.

“The office of attorney general should not be a rental space, should not be a stepping stone,” Rafferty said. “[It] has an old function here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to make those decisions that are going to protect the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

The candidates also clashed over gun control, sex abuse legislation, and the best ways to cut down corruption in Pennsylvania’s state government.

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