WAY BACK in the '80s, Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox declared musically that "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves." If they meant that a wealthy woman can pump a lot of family money into her own campaign and win a major statewide primary in the traditional no-woman's land of Pennsylvania, then Kathleen Kane has indeed come a long way, baby.
In a close race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, Kane - a former Lackawanna County prosecutor - defeated former Bucks County U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, supported by Mayor Nutter and recent ex-Gov. Ed Rendell.
But Kane had the support of the one man who counted most in this election: her husband, Chris, owner of a Scranton-based trucking company (nonunion, as Murphy aggressively pointed out) with the prosaic name of Kane Is Able. Her husband and other company officials pumped $2.25 million into the race.
Kane became the first woman nominated for A.G. by one of the two major parties by winning a statewide primary in what is historically one of the worst states in the country when it comes to electing women. But Kane's next task is one that until now has proved literally impossible. A Democrat has never won the job of attorney general since it became an elected office in 1980. This year, the Republican candidate is David Freed, Cumberland County district attorney.
In some ways, the Kane-Murphy race carried echoes of the epic Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama Pennsylvania primary in 2008.
In that race, Murphy - the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress - supported Obama while Kane worked on the campaign of Clinton, who won the state but lost the nomination. This year, Bill Clinton returned the favor by campaigning for Kane, the only big-name Democrat to do so.
In the end, though, Kane's self-funded victory said less about gender or grudge-match politics than it did about the most famous aphorism in the history of Pennsylvania politics, uttered by the Abscam figure Michael "Ozzie" Myers: Money talks. Everything else walks.