After 32 years of GOP control, do Dems finally have a chance at attorney general?

Two-term congressman Patrick Murphy and Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane – the dueling Democratic candidates fighting for the chance to face off against Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed in November’s attorney general race – probably comprise the hottest ticket in Tuesday’s primary elections.

The young, attractive hopefuls share many well-documented similarities: Both hail from working class Irish families and have pledged to aggressively pursue those who abuse children and seniors. Both have vowed that, if elected, they will not use the office as a mere stepping stone to the governor’s chair.

Both are Democrats – a party that has not controlled the state’s attorney general seat since it became an elective office 32 years ago.

In short, both candidates are not Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s Republican former attorney general and current governor who has recently fanned the flames of controversy by making deep cuts to education and social services while advancing legislation that is not exactly female-friendly.

Zack Stalberg of political watchdog group Committee of Seventy thinks the distinction uniquely positions the Democratic Party to take the office in a historic win. “I believe the Democrats see more of an opportunity this year because the last attorney general is now governor and is surrounded by certain controversies around his budget,” he said. “I think they see an opportunity to take the office in a way they haven’t before.”

Despite each candidate’s assurance that, in the case of a victory, they would remain content to serve as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Stalberg said the possibility for advancement is a strong motivator. “The office of state attorney general around the country almost automatically leads to the governor’s office,” he said.

“I think the real interest this time is because both of the Democrats are young, Corbett is there for six more years and they could position themselves nicely to run against his successor.”

For more on where the candidates diverge – and how they have wielded their differences against one another – take a look at this post judging Murphy and Kane through campaign videos. It also features footage of Patrick Murphy singing karaoke. Just sayin’.