Inquirer Editorial: Kane's victory stands out as a first for women

DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: November 08, 2012

By handing a historic victory to the first Democrat or woman elected attorney general, Pennsylvania voters signaled a potential change in the state's political landscape that might help right policy missteps by Gov. Corbett on several issues.

While the main story on Election Day was the strong support that coalesced behind President Obama, the local results are noteworthy, too. None more so than Kathleen Kane's victory to become the state's top cop in Harrisburg - the first both from her party and from the ranks of women candidates, who are far too few in statewide politics.

While Kane faced a capable opponent in Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, she campaigned against the governor's handling as attorney general of the child-sex-abuse investigation of Jerry Sandusky. It's likely Kane also benefited from a gender gap after Corbett stumbled in backing mandatory invasive ultrasound tests prior to an abortion.

Now Corbett, facing voters in 2014, has to await Kane's promised review of the Sandusky case. If it shows Corbett pulled punches rather than embarrass Pennsylvania State University football coaching legend Joe Paterno, it won't go down well.

An upside to the governor looking over his shoulder could be that he finally loosens his ideological straitjacket about raising revenue, and moves ahead on meeting more critical state needs.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, voters said enough was enough with the state's underfunding of higher education in recent years. They wisely ratified a $750 million bond issue for campus renovations that should boost the competitiveness of the state's colleges and universities.

Also in New Jersey, the first school board elections shifted from April to November more than proved their worth across 468 districts. They delivered millions in savings, and allowed more people to have a say. That should be all the convincing needed for the 73 districts that have yet get in line with the rest.

And in Philadelphia, the electorate cast ballots in the hope of gaining relief - illusory or not - from rising utility rates. An approved City Charter change paves the way for a new, independent rate-setting panel to determine water and sewer fees. Now Mayor Nutter, who is ultimately accountable for assuring the city's water quality, must guard against consumers' being harmed by a possibly politicized process.

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