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Kane leading AG race, Trib poll finds

Jeremy Boren
| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 11:59 p.m.

A Lackawanna County Democrat running for Pennsylvania attorney general is leading in the race to end the GOP's 32-year hold on the office, according to a Tribune-Review poll.

Lawyer Kathleen Kane, 46, was the choice of 48 percent of those polled less than a week before the Nov. 6 election. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, 42, drew the support of 37 percent of those polled, with 14 percent undecided.

Susquehanna Polling & Research of Harrisburg conducted the poll of 800 likely voters on behalf of the Trib. The poll, conducted Oct. 29-31, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percent.

Races for state auditor general and treasurer were virtual dead heats, with nearly one-quarter of voters undecided in each race, reflecting less enthusiasm among voters about the lower-profile races in an election year dominated by the presidential campaign.

Kane is seeking to become the first woman and the first Democrat elected attorney general.

Ten percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney but plan to cross party lines to vote for Kane, said Susquehanna Polling President Jim Lee.

“To me, that's a powerful trend,” Lee said.

“We don't put a whole lot of stock in the polls,” Tim Kelly, Freed's campaign manager, said when contacted about the Susquehanna poll results. “What we see are lots of undecided voters.”

Kane spokesman Josh Morrow said “the reason why Kathleen Kane has led in every poll conducted since the primary is because Pennsylvanians want a tough, independent watchdog — and not someone who has been hand-picked by Tom Corbett and who has strong ties to the Harrisburg establishment.

Lee said Kane is leading among independent voters as well, meaning Freed would have to sway most Republican, and some Democratic undecided voters, to win.

Octavia Thompson, 67, of Philadelphia, said she plans to vote for Kane, in part because of her campaign promise to investigate the handling of the child sex-abuse investigation into former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The investigation began under then-Attorney General Corbett, a Republican who was elected governor.

Critics have questioned whether Corbett was aggressive enough in pursuing the abuse allegations. Sandusky was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in prison.

“I don't like Corbett,” Thompson said. “It's time to put a different party in the attorney general's office.”

Corbett has endorsed Freed, who has praised the Sandusky investigation but promised to review it if elected.

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said they approve of the job Corbett is doing as governor, and 41 percent disapprove.

In the race for treasurer, incumbent Democrat Rob McCord, 53, of Bryn Mawr, faces Republican challenger Diana Irey Vaughan, 50, of Eighty-Four, a Washington County commissioner since 1996.

Irey Vaughan wants to eliminate wasteful spending from state government and bring more attention to Pennsylvania's growing pension problems.

McCord contends he deserves re-election because he has more than 20 years of business leadership experience, has reduced the size of his office and identified more than $17 million in savings in state government spending.

The Trib poll showed McCord has the support of 39 percent of those polled versus Vaughan's 37 percent, with 23 percent undecided and 1 percent choosing another candidate.

“McCord seems to be getting some separation from Irey Vaughan,” Lee said.

Lindsey Ross, 61, of Washington, said he's familiar with Irey Vaughan from her time as a commissioner.

“I like that she is able to work with Democrats even though they are in the majority on the board of commissioners,” Ross said, referring to Irey Vaughn's two Democratic counterparts on the three-member board. “She hasn't cowered down, she stood up.”

In the auditor general race, the Trib poll shows Rep. John Maher, 53, R-Upper St. Clair, with 36 percent of those polled and 37 percent for Rep. Eugene DePasquale, 41, a York County Democrat. Undecided voters accounted for 25 percent of those polled.

The candidates have argued over who has more experience to do the job. DePasquale, a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Oakland, was deputy secretary at the Department of Environmental Protection under former Gov. Ed Rendell. Maher started a private-sector auditing firm.

“To the extent that qualifications matter — I think you'll see either that manifest itself in this race or people will vote their party line,” Lee said.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or

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