PA Attorney General

Keeping Promises: Patrick Murphy for Attorney General!

I met Patrick Murphy in 2005, when as a new Congressional candidate, he spoke to a room of about 12 students at my law school. His resume and bio—the handsome, young, progressive, JAG officer, who sounded straight out of Northeast Philly and who was going to lead our 2006 Democratic wave—led Democrats everywhere to swoon.

In that meeting, I vividly remember that a student immediately asked him about LGBT rights, and the Defense of Marriage Act. If I recall correctly, I think it was asked in that familiar law-school assertiveness/hostility that makes us all so lovable to our friends and families. And, given the image of military men, this was a pretty interesting question.

Patrick responded to that question quickly, stating that he occasionally taught con law, and that in his opinion, DOMA was unconstitutional, and needed to go, and that he would be an ally for LGBT rights on that and other issues. In that little circle, his forceful, responsive answer really made an impression.

And what did Patrick do when he won? He followed through. He spent the next four years— right up until the moment he left office—leading the successful fight to end DADT, an outdated, bigoted piece of American policy. Patrick, a young Iraq-war veteran, used his face and voice to the issue, and gave the fight an immediate boost.

Don’t take my word for it-observe the Obama-led standing ovation that Patrick received when the policy was finally repealed (13:10 mark if the edit doesn't work):

While the slow lurches of progress would have forced an end to DADT sooner or later, it is unclear if that would have happened anytime soon without Patrick. Think about this: If Obama really wanted legislative approval for the repeal, and Patrick didn’t spearhead this process, it very well may not have happened in 2010. And if it didn't happen in 2010, it certainly would not have happened this year, as the GOP House would have kept the legislation bottled up forever.

Instead, we have change. And while progressives often have a complicated relationship with our military, there is no question that, like the Truman ordered desegregation, our armed services can be powerful tools for larger societal acceptance of change:

Patrick was not a perfect Congressman. (For example, he supported a terrible piece of immigration legislation.) But overall, he was a good Congressman from a very tough district. He fought for healthcare for all. He fought for the public option. He fought for women to be able to control their own body. And, he led that fight on a piece of the civil rights struggle of this generation, leading on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He was an ally and a doer, and despite not being totally polished, he was a leader.

That is why I was so happy to hear that Patrick was running for Attorney General. That same leadership, when applied to things like consumer issues— for which he has spoken frequently about— will be a sea change for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. (And, by the way, the handsome, Iraq War JAG Captain, will be the perfect person to run alongside President Obama, and be the first Democrat in PA to ever win the office.)

His opponent is Kathleen Kane. She was a mostly unknown prosecutor in the Allegheny Lackawanna County DA’s office. And she is running a campaign that is largely funded by her family’s trucking business. She seems fine. However, despite the need for women in PA higher offices, I simply don’t think she compares to Patrick.

There are different reasons that you can vote for a politician. You can read the questionnaires that they submitted, see if they agree with you on the issues, and then hope that they will stick to those positions, and advocate for them. You can look at someone’s bio, and look for clues there. But, there are other times when you can look at a body of work. Where you can look at how someone’s words have been reflected in their actions. That is where we are with Patrick. When Patrick tells us that he will be a strong advocate for Pennsylvania familes targeted by predatory mortgage companies, I don’t really have to wonder. His body of work tells me that he will follow through.

This is a real opportunity here. Let’s support the people that have followed through on progressive fights, and get the word out on this race. Please, please, please: vote, and spread the word. Let’s not waste this chance.

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