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Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane denies interest in running for governor in 2014

| Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, 11:27 p.m.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane last year dismissed a case against former confidential informant, Tyron B. Ali, contending the investigation by her predecessors was legally flawed, tainted with racism, and inactive for nine months before she took office in January 2013.

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has no interest in jumping into the 2014 gubernatorial race, despite political encouragement and recent speculation to the contrary, she said on Monday.

“I love my job as attorney general. I think it's the right time and the right place for me right now to represent the people of Pennsylvania,” Kane said in brief remarks to reporters in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. She was a keynote speaker at the annual conference of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

About seven months into her term, political analysts have speculated whether Kane might join at least a half-dozen Democratic hopefuls to seek their party's nomination for governor next year. Observers point to her political savvy, fundraising record and high-profile refusal this summer to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

It doesn't hurt that Kane has tangled with the administration of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and promised to carry on the prosecution of the former Penn State University administrators accused of failing to disclose what they knew about Jerry Sandusky, convicted of child sexual abuse, analysts say.

“The attorney general's office in any state has become a stepping stone for the governorship. I'm sure that's part of the speculation,” said Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College near Scranton. “The other part is her being the first elected woman attorney general as well as the first elected Democratic attorney general in Pennsylvania.”

Kane did not say who has nudged her to run in 2014, though she indicated having “quite a bit” of encouragement. A call to the state Democratic Party office in Harrisburg went unreturned Monday.

Since her run against Republican David Freed in 2012, Kane has pledged to serve a full four-year term as attorney general. She cast herself Monday not as a Democratic or a woman attorney general but as “your attorney general.”

“I have always said there is no place for politics when it comes to the law,” she said. “I still believe that.”

Although Corbett has seen relatively low public-approval numbers, other political experts warned it's too early to discount his re-election bid. Every elected governor in Pennsylvania since 1970 has won re-election.

Corbett will enjoy incumbency and substantial resources as he runs again, said Stephen Cimbala, a Penn State professor of political science.

“I don't think very many Republicans are going to desert him to vote for a Democrat unless it's a Democrat with bipartisan appeal,” Cimbala said.

Still, he and other observers said Kane could be a powerful gubernatorial candidate in 2018.

“Everything she's done during (her) campaign and in office has been of fairly high profile,” said Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown. “She doesn't shy away from the spotlight.”

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.

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