Clout: Ultrasound: Dems' fightin' word

Posted: April 06, 2012

THE TWO Democrats competing in the April 24 primary election for attorney general spent Thursday bashing each other over pending state legislation both oppose.

We have a theory about why.

With 18 days to go until the primary, Pennsylvania finally has a Republican presidential primary worth paying attention to.

And five guys are fighting for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate race in the fall.

So, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Bucks County and former Lackawanna County Assistant D. A. Kathleen Kane are looking for ways to motivate Democratic voters to support them for attorney general.

A controversial bill to require women to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion might stir those voters to action.

Murphy and Kane oppose the legislation. Murphy says he wouldn't defend or enforce the law if it passes and if he's elected.

He jumped on a Pennsylvania Cable Network interview with Kane last week, when she called Murphy's stance a "dangerous proposition," adding that the attorney general can't "pick and choose" which laws to enforce.

In a fundraising email Wednesday, Murphy's campaign manager said Kane "pledged to defend Gov. Corbett's ultrasound bill."

Murphy stood by his claim Thursday, saying the issue could rally Democrats April 24. Kane called Murphy a liar trying to lure voters who support her.

Kane insists the bill would be "completely unenforceable" if it becomes law.

"He says that he supports the rights of women, but then what he is doing is lying to them to try to obtain their vote," Kane fumed.

Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia who follows Pennsylvania politics, said both candidates are trying to stir up their bases.

"Democratic women will be activated by this issue," he said.

G. Terry Madonna, who conducts the Franklin & Marshall College Poll for the Daily News, said the issue will certainly motivate registered Democrats. He added that single, divorced and widowed women tend to lean Democratic in Pennsylvania.

The unknown candidate

Joe Vodvarka is amazed.

The self-described "nobody" from McKees Rocks, near Pittsburgh, will have his name listed on the April 24 Democratic primary ballot under the line for President Obama.

Vodvarka, a semi-retired spring manufacturer who creates parts for everything from restored old cars to U.S. Army rifles, is running in the primary against U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

Never heard of him? Vodvarka knows it. The five Republicans fighting for their party's nomination get all the attention.

Vodvarka took a break from passing out campaign literature in Pittsburgh on Thursday to explain his one-issue campaign.

Vodvarka is all about fair trade, complaining that international spring manufacturers are allowed to dump their products in the U.S. market while using tariffs to keep products from this country out of their markets.

Vodvarka ran briefly for the Senate in 2004 and again in 2010 before a challenge to his nominating petitions knocked him from the ballot. He used $14,911 in Social Security payments to fund his 2010 run and raised no money.

Don't look for him to run a rough race against Casey.

"I never met Bob in my life but he's a gentleman and a good man," Vodvarka said before driving across the state to pass out campaign fliers in Allentown.

House race's nasty turn

It wouldn't be a campaign season in Philly without at least a couple of calls to 9-1-1.

A staffer on the campaign of Damon Roberts, who is seeking the 186th District seat in the state House, showed up at his headquarters on Broad Street at Dickinson in South Philly Wednesday morning to find red paint splashed all over a big sign and picture of Roberts.

A note tucked into a nook in the office window said "We out for blood n----s."

Police are investigating.

It's the second time Roberts has called them. The first call came after Roberts paid what his campaign manager called a "friendly visit" in early March to the campaign office of Jordan Harris, one of two opponents in the primary election.

That didn't go so friendly.

Roberts told police a man connected to the Harris campaign later came to his office, saying the visit should not be repeated. Cops took a report on that too.

Harris and Timothy Hanna, the third candidate, expressed shock and dismay about the vandalism and threat this week.

Harris denied that the man who went to Roberts' office was part of his campaign.

"Nobody from my campaign is doing anything," he said of the incidents reported to police.

Quotable:

"Steve, what did you have for breakfast last week?"

- Tom Smith, responding in a debate Wednesday when Steve Welch asked whom Smith voted for in the 2010 primary election. Both former Democrats, they're seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.


Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or e-mail

brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com and follow on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN.

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