Montco commissioner joins crowd of candidates vying for attorney general seat

    On the same day that sitting Attorney General Kathleen Kane will be the subject of a state Senate hearing on removing her from office, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro says he’s sending a letter to Pennsylvanians announcing his candidacy for her job.

    Shapiro was sworn in last week for his second stint as a county commissioner, but has been long rumored as a candidate for the top prosecutor’s office. As of Nov. 3, he had $1.4 million in his campaign warchest.

    Like others in the field of candidates for state attorney general, Shapiro said he can fix what has been ailing that office.

    “I think, right now, we need someone who can lead that office with integrity,” he said. “Someone who has the judgment and executive experience to clean up a mess.”

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    Following scandals related to leaked grand jury documents and pornographic emails, confidence in the attorney general’s office is low. As an antidote, Shapiro points out his work on Pennsylvania open records law and his commitment to transparency.

    “I would release everything,” he said. “I would put everything out. I wouldn’t selectively release anything, and I wouldn’t release things to target or embarrass particular individuals.”

    While Shapiro touts his political experience, some question whether he has enough experience practicing law to go for the state’s prosecutor’s spot. He holds a law degree from Georgetown University, but Shapiro built a career serving in politics, working in the office of U.S. legislators before running for state representative in Pennsylvania in 2004.

    In a race filled with career prosecutors, Shapiro is betting that his political experience will be a selling point to take over an office plagued by mismanagement.

    “Here in Montgomery County, I lead an office that is three times the size of the office of attorney general,” he said.

    Kane’s tenure has been wracked by scandals — that a network of top lawyers and judges had been sharing pornographic and racist emails — and accusations — that Kane herself leaked sealed grand jury information.

    Promising to rebuild confidence in the office is a field of Democratic candidates. District Attorneys Steve Zappala from Allegheny County and John Morganelli of Northumberland County have entered the race, along with  Delaware County prosecutor Jack Stollsteimer and  former Allegheny County councilman David Fawcett.

    Kane — whose law license has been suspended and who faces hearings to determine whether she can keep her post — has announced that she’s seeking re-election.

    For the GOP, state Sen. John Rafferty and Rep. Todd Stephens — both from Montgomery County — have thrown their hats in the ring.

    Candidates have until Feb. 16 to gather enough voter signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. The primary election is April 26.

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