Kathleen Kane wins attorney general, leads sweep of state row offices
Kathleen Kane on Tuesday became the first Democrat to break the Republicans' 30-year stranglehold on the Office of Attorney General, with an unofficial victory over GOP challenger David Freed.
Kane, a former Lackawanna County assistant district attorney, garnered 57 percent of the vote to Freed's 41 percent, with 93 percent of precincts reporting. She becomes the first woman elected as the state's top law enforcement officer. Freed is Cumberland County district attorney.
Kane said Freed was “very gracious” when he called to concede. Asked what led to her victory, Kane said: “I think a lot of hard work and a message of being outside politics and being an independent watchdog.”
Kane led a Democratic sweep of state row offices.
Incumbent Treasurer Rob McCord of Bryn Mawr, a potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2014, defeated Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, an Eighty-Four Republican, 53 to 43 percent, with 93 percent of precincts reporting.
Rep. Eugene DePasquale, a York Democrat and Pittsburgh native, defeated Republican Rep. John Maher of Upper St. Clair for auditor general. DePasquale received 50 percent to Maher's 46 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting. Maher won his House seat to remain in the Legislature.
“John called to concede,” DePasquale said. He believes he was able to get out his message that he will be an independent watchdog who had been a reformer in the House with limited expenses.
Maher could not be reached.
DePasquale might have benefitted from his Pittsburgh lineage.
“DePasquale seems like a name I've seen for over 40 years,” said Brenda Davis, 61, a retired banker who lives on the North Side. DePasquale's grandfather “Jeep” DePasquale served as president of Pittsburgh City Council and Eugene grew up in the city.
“It certainly didn't hurt with so many relatives out working for me,” DePasquale said.
Backed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, Freed, 42, emphasized his experience. But Kane, 46, of Clarks Summit pledged to clean up Harrisburg and asked in one TV ad whether voters wanted someone “tough enough to tell the boys in Harrisburg enough is enough.” She pounded a theme that she would investigate why the office took 33 months to investigate Jerry Sandusky, a case that Corbett started as attorney general.
Sandusky, 68, a former Penn State assistant football coach, is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for his June conviction on 45 counts of child molestation. His arrest in November 2011 triggered events that included the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno and NCAA sanctions. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
Kane benefitted from exposure during a tough primary contest with former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. Freed ran unopposed in the primary.
Having worked on Hillary Clinton's 2008 primary campaign for president, Kane became friends with former President Clinton, who appeared in her ads.
Analysts predicted she would benefit from a voter backlash against Corbett, whose job approval ratings are down in part because of the Sandusky case.
Maher, 53, touted his success building a Pittsburgh auditing company. He said he wanted to be the first CPA to serve as the state's fiscal watchdog. DePasquale, 41, an attorney, said he would be an independent auditor general and start by auditing water protection programs because of gas drilling in the Marcellus shale.
McCord, 53, cited a track record running his office and decades of business experience. Vaughan, 50, said she would apply fiscal discipline she used in Washington County to run the treasury.
In the heavily Democratic North Side, Mark Wade, 63, a retired attorney and owner of the Monterey Pub, said he voted Democratic except in the attorney general and auditor general's races.
In the attorney general's race, “I thought Freed was more qualified. He had been a DA for a very active county.” He also thought Maher's experience as an auditor matched with being auditor general. “I was happy we had an auditor running for that.”
Kane's pitch that she'll investigate Corbett's handling of the Sandusky case “didn't mean that much to me,” Wade said. “I didn't see any real basis for it. Just because you take a little longer (on an investigation) isn't enough reason. It was a successful prosecution.”
Davis, a Democrat, said she was impressed that Kane “had tried a lot of cases” though Freed's commercials argued otherwise.
Chaurice Cobb, voting for the first time at 18, said Kane's call for an independent investigation “made a little difference” in her decision to vote for her. The names for auditor general and treasurer were not really recognizable, said Cobb, a Democrat studying to be a chef.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.