Clout: Pa. A.G. race takes a turn for the nasty

A Washington-based super PAC is running an ad in Philly that describes Democrat Kathleen Kane as "soft" on rape.
A Washington-based super PAC is running an ad in Philly that describes Democrat Kathleen Kane as "soft" on rape.
Posted: September 21, 2012

THE RACE for state attorney general took a turn for the nasty Thursday, when a Republican group from Washington, D.C., is set to air TV commercials in Philadelphia casting Democrat Kathleen Kane as "soft" on rape.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, run by a Virginia-based lobbyist for automakers, tobacco companies and car-title lenders, is spending $558,700 to run the ads for about a week on 6ABC, NBC 10, CBS 3 and Fox 29.

The ad shows images of a teenage girl leaving home, strolling along and texting while a white van rolls up slowly behind her. She vanishes as the van speeds off, her shoe left behind in the grass.

The ad's narrator claims Kane was responsible for a "weak plea deal" in one rape case and "went soft on the rapist" in another.

Kane, a former assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County, said on Thursday that she was not the prosecutor in the first case. The ad cites a Scranton Times-Tribune story that lists a different prosecutor in the case.

Kane said she did not recall the second case, in which a man got a six-month sentence for indecent assault and corruption of minors and was charged with two more assaults after being released from jail.

An Inquirer poll last month showed Kane holding an 11-point lead over the Republican nominee, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, with 31 percent undecided.

Asked why the nonprofit political-advocacy group would target her on issues involving rape, Kane said: "Because I'm ahead in the polls and because they'll say and do anything, even if it's a lie, to win an election."

The ad hits Kane both where she is strong - she started the child-abuse/sexual-assault unit at the Lackawanna D.A.'s Office - and where she is weak - she claimed during the primary election campaign to have prosecuted 3,000 cases. Kane took about 24 of those cases to trial, leading some to say she exaggerated her experience.

A Republican State Leadership Committee spokesman declined to comment when asked if the group planned to run ads that explicitly support Freed in the race.

He could probably use the help. Freed, who ran unopposed with Gov. Corbett's support in the primary, had $440,176 in the bank when the last campaign-finance reports were filed on May 14. That looks healthy compared with the $1,728 Kane reported.

But Kane, whose husband runs a successful trucking firm in Scranton, used more than $2 million of the family's money to win a primary against former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. The next round of campaign-finance reports is due Tuesday. We'll see how much deeper Kane is willing to dig into their bank account.

Pa. for prez: A tie?

If you believe Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, Mitt Romney is neck-and-neck with President Obama in the state and is about to start airing campaign commercials any day now.

Gleason, eager to hold onto Pennsylvania's swing-state status as polls show a consistent lead for Obama, released his own poll Thursday. It paints the Keystone State as a statistical tie.

That poll of 800 likely voters conducted from Saturday to Monday showed Obama with a 1-point lead, 48-47 percent, over Romney.

Gleason said the Romney campaign received the poll Wednesday and will soon start running commercials in Pennsylvania.

"I can say that for sure," said Gleason, adding, "Like it or not, Barack Obama is going to lose Pennsylvania."

Sounds confident, right?

We'll see. A Romney campaign spokeswoman in Pennsylvania declined Thursday to say if Gleason's claim was accurate.

Romney has not been running ads in Pennsylvania, and the super PACs that support him have pulled their ads in the state.

An Inquirer poll last month showed Obama holding an 11-point lead on Romney. An average of Pennsylvania polls compiled at RealClearPolitics.com gives Obama an 8.6-point lead.

Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who runs one of the super PACs that pulled ads in Pennsylvania, on Monday shifted the state from "lean Obama" to "safe Obama," citing what he sees as a 10-point lead for the president.

Red Cross to City Hall?

A hot topic in Philadelphia political circles: Will a woman run for mayor in 2015? So far that question has centered on City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who is weighing a run.

But Clout hears of another possible contender. We're told some powers-that-be are reaching out to former Common Pleas Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, who holds the top job at the Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross.

Hughes acknowledged that at least one politically connected person had spoken with her about running and that the time might be right for a woman candidate.

"I'm flattered and honored that people of substantial political experience think I have the skills, and beyond that, I'm not ready to discuss it," Hughes said.

Diplomatic and noncommittal . . . sounds like she has all the makings of a good candidate.

- Staff writer Catherine Lucey

contributed to this report.


Contact Chris Brennan at brennac@phillynews.com or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at PhillyClout.com.

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