HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Kathleen Kane on Tuesday spearheaded a Democratic sweep of Pennsylvania three statewide “row offices,” becoming the first Democrat and the first woman to be elected as state attorney general and snapping a chain of GOP succession that had gone unbroken since the post became an elective office in 1980.
“I’m thrilled,” Kane said in a telephone interview Tuesday night after defeating Republican candidate David Freed, the Cumberland County district attorney, with 56 percent of the vote in returns from 96 percent of the state’ precincts. “I felt the momentum everywhere I went. I’m humbled by the fact it’s such a large margin.”
Pennsylvania also elected Eugene DePasquale, a state representative from York County, as auditor general and awarded state Treasurer Rob McCord a second four-year term.
Kane vowed during her campaign that she would launch an investigation into why it took the attorney general’s office nearly three years to bring criminal charges against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He was sentenced in October to at least 30 years in prison.
Such a probe is bound to put the state’s new chief legal officer on a collision course with GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general when the Sandusky probe was launched and who has defended its pace as unvoidable.
Kane, who was elected in her first campaign for public office, said Tuesday night that she would keep that promise, “amongst other things.”
“There’s a lot of work to do,” such as appointing a transition team in preparation for taking over the office in January, she said.
Kane, 46, spent more than 12 years as a Lackawanna County assistant district attorney and proved to be a scrappy campaigner in her first bid for elective office.
Freed stressed his 15 years of prosecutorial experience, including seven years of management experience in his present job as Cumberland County’s elected district attorney.
Freed won 41 percent of the vote and Libertarian Party candidate Marakay Rogers claimed 2 percent.
Kane stressed her legal background and cast herself as a political outsider — an image easier to sell in the primary campaign financed mostly by her husband than in the fall campaign in which she relied on organized labor, trial lawyers and other special interests.
Kane spent more than $2 million in the primary and reported post-primary contributions totaling nearly $3 million through Oct. 22, while Freed reported raising more than $2 million.
Incumbent Attorney General Linda Kelly, whom Corbett appointed in 2011 to complete the unfinished portion of his term as attorney general, agreed did not seek a full term.
DePasquale, 41, defeated fellow state Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny, in the three-way race for auditor general — the state’s independent fiscal watchdog. DePasquale won 50 percent, while Maher won 46 percent and Libertarian Betsy Summers of Wilkes-Barre attracted 4 percent. Maher was re-elected to his House seat Tuesday without opposition.
DePasquale earned a law degree while serving as a deputy secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection in the Rendell administration. He said his executive and legislative experience qualified him for the job.
Maher touted his credentials as the only certified public accountant in the race.
In his re-election as treasurer, McCord defeated Republican Diana Irey Vaughan, a county commissioner from western Pennsylvania, with 53 percent of the vote. Vaughan won 43 percent and Libertarian Patricia Fryman won 3 percent.
McCord, 53, a former venture capitalist who lives in suburban Philadelphia, was elected in 2008 in his first campaign.