Only one incumbent state executive seeking re-election in Pennsylvania

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February 15, 2012

By Ballotpedia's State Executive Project team: Greg Janetka, Maresa Strano and Lauren Rodgers


HARRISBURG, PA: Candidates eying offices in the Keystone State's executive branch had a lot more than chocolate, flowers and candy hearts on their minds yesterday: the deadline to file to run in this year's state executive elections expired at 5:00 pm. Pennsylvania voters will decide three executive office races in 2012: attorney general, treasurer and auditor general.

Attorney General
Pennsylvania's current attorney general, Republican Linda Kelly, will not be defending her seat in the 2012 election. She has been keeping the seat warm since Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Corbett (R) appointed her to succeed him in 2011 upon his election to the Governor's office, but she will not vie for more permanent occupancy, in honor of a tradition for midterm state row office appointees not to seek a full four-year term.[1] Removing Kelly from the equation leaves Cumberland Country District Attorney David Freed sans opposition in the April 24th Republican primary.

The Democratic primary race was already underway when the two candidates, ex-Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County Kathleen Granahan Kane and former Bucks County Congressman/Iraq vet Patrick Murphy, officially filed for the election on Tuesday.[2] Preseason debates and press-speculation indicate a slight advantage for Murphy, whose hero status in the gay community --the result of his successful crusade in the House to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"-- and close ties to the Obama administration make him a progressive favorite. Notwithstanding this early lead, Kane's ample prosecuting experience and suitability to handle, in particular, the demands of the high-profile Sandusky case, will surely be underscored in the coming months leading up to the primary election, and could make for a tight race to secure the Democratic party's nomination.[3]

Democratic Treasurer Rob McCord is the only incumbent seeking re-election to statewide office this year. McCord, who was first elected in 2008, had to fight a four way battle for his party's nomination that year, but this year he stands unopposed. He will face Diana Irey Vaughan in the general election. Vaughan, a four term incumbent serving on the Washington County Commission, was the only Republican to file.

Auditor General
Meanwhile, current Auditor General Jack Wagner (D) did not seek re-election and the battle for the open seat could come down to two state representatives. Democrat Eugene DePasquale was first elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2007. It was expected that DePasquale would have to contend with former non-profit CEO Devon Cade in the primary, but Cade did not appear on the ballot.[4] At this point it is not clear why he did not file, but it may have in part had to do with a debate that took place between the two candidates last Sunday. A straw poll taken at the end of the debate saw 98 percent of the audience declare DePasquale the winner. DePasquale, it should be noted, has also filed for re-election to his District 95 House seat. He is currently unopposed in that race.[5]

Over on the Republican side, veteran state representative John Maher is seeking his party's nomination. Although his name does not appear on the most recent candidate list available at the time of this writing, news reports confirm that he did file for the ballot. Like DePasquale, Maher's name does appear as seeking re-election to the House, where he currently stands unopposed.[6] For the Auditor's seat Maher will face former college professor and President of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers Frank Pinto in the primary. At a forum in late January, both candidates attempted to paint the other as an insider, with Pinto citing Maher's 15 years in the House, while Maher said Pinto has been lobbying in the state Capitol "since I was in high school."[7]


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