First challenger to AG Kane for emerges

     Republican state Sen. John Rafferty, second from right, plans to announce Wednesday he'll run for Pennsylvania attorney general next year. (AP fiel photo)

    Republican state Sen. John Rafferty, second from right, plans to announce Wednesday he'll run for Pennsylvania attorney general next year. (AP fiel photo)

    Republican state Sen. John Rafferty plans to announce Wednesday he’ll run for Pennsylvania attorney general next year.

    While he may be the first in the field, Rafferty’s likely to have plenty of company.

    Incumbent Democrat Kathleen Kane is wounded and vulnerable. The Montgomery County district attorney is currently considering  whether to file charges based on a grand jury’s finding that Kane violated grand jury secrecy rules and lied about it.

    Rafferty is a three-term state senator representing parts of Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties. Franklin & Marshall professor Terry Madonna said Rafferty is a well-regarded moderate in the state Capitol.

    “His profile is very high. I think you’d have to say he’d be a very, very serious candidate,” Madonna said. “But before it’s over, we’re very likely to see three or four other challengers in the race.”

    Among Democrats, Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro is said to be considering a run. He returned my call but declined to talk about the attorney general’s race, since he’s currently running for re-election to his county commissioner’s post.

    Shapiro, seen as a rising star in the state Democratic Party, has been travelling around the commonwealth assisting local candidates and building relationships with party officials.

    He recently declined the entreaties of some leading Democrats to enter the 2016 U.S. Senate contest as a challenger to incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, who is seeking re-election.

    Like Rafferty, Shapiro represents a politically potent base in the Philadelphia suburbs. Unlike Rafferty, Shapiro has never held a law enforcement post. He’ll argue he’s been active on criminal justice issues as a legislator and currently chairs the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

    Winning the attorney general’s office is one way for a local politician to get statewide name recognition and move up a notch on the political ladder. Three past Republican attorneys general have run for governor, and one, Tom Corbett, won the office.

    A spokesman for Kane said she believes she’s done nothing wrong, and expects to serve a second term.

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