State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Candidates for Pa. attorney general try to distinguish themselves

Written by Mary Wilson | Apr 14, 2016 4:40 AM

(Harrisburg) -- All five candidates for state attorney general have faced off at a forum in Harrisburg.

It's been a low-key race for the state's top law enforcement official, with the presidential race and other contests competing for attention.

But Democrats tried to draw contrasts amongst themselves -- John Morganelli, Northampton County's district attorney for the past 25 years, Montgomery County Chairman Commissioner Josh Shapiro, and Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala, who's held his post for 18 years.

"I am right now Pennsylvania's longest serving district attorney," Morganelli said. "I'm not the oldest DA in the state, but I'm the longest serving DA at the present time."

Shapiro pointed to his seven years as a state representative and his work as as chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Zappala referred to his record, in noting the police charge about 45,000 criminal complaints in the course of the year.

"I only permit 16,000 of those to go to indictment," he said. "So we have a process in place where I do not let the police drive the system."

Republicans Joe Peters, a former Scranton police officer and 15-year veteran of the Office of Attorney General, says he has more beat experience than his opponent, 13-year state Senator John Rafferty, himself a former deputy attorney general.  

"If you were building an attorney general, wouldn't you want to start with someone who's actually been on the ground in uniform and under cover?" Peters asked. "Then a chief of police? Then a federal mafia prosecutor?

Rafferty countered, "I think it's important to have the criminal background, but I think it's important to have even a broad background for office of attorney general."

The forum was broadcast live by PCN.

The primary election is less than two weeks away on April 26.



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