The candidates looking to become the state’s next attorney general met for their third and final debate in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
“We need someone to go out and restore integrity to the office of attorney general and fairness across the board in our justice system,” said Montgomery County Commissioner and Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro.
Republican State Sen. John Rafferty said he hopes his varied experience as an executive and legislator will allow him, “to continue to work to make sure that your safety and security is paramount here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Neither candidate mentioned the recent sentencing of ex-Attorney General Kathleen Kane. She was convicted of perjury and sentenced to 10-23 months in jail.
The candidates also touched on the issue of public defenders and consumer protection during the one-hour debate held at Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation.
Both men laid out their plans to combat the state’s opioid crisis.
“I will be merciless when it comes to the drug dealers but compassionate when it comes to those who are suffering from addiction,” Shapiro said.
Rafferty said his approach would involve, “Looking at legislation to go after murder charges on those who supply heroin at the high level drug dealers. That’s a tactic we need here."
The debate turned contentious when the candidates discussed negative campaign ads and political ambitions.
“I make no bones about it. I want to be attorney general,” Rafferty said. “I don’t want to be governor and I know he (Shapiro) does. He can deny it all he wants, or the U.S. attorney. I only want to serve the commonwealth.”
Characterizing Rafferty’s ads as “desperate” Shapiro replied, “I think we need to do a better job of uplifting and raising up our rhetoric and making sure we are offering people a hopeful positive vision.”
The candidates’ previous debates were held in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.