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Suburban Philadelphian Takes On Kane, Zappala In Attorney General's Race

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Meet Josh Shapiro, another Democrat who says it's time for Attorney General Kathleen Kane to go.

"The people of Pennsylvania want someone who is worried about their legal rights, not focusing on their own legal predicament," Shapiro told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

"I think it's become a distraction, and I think we need to move in a new direction," he said.

So the Montgomery County commissioner from suburban Philadelphia says he's running for attorney general with three goals.

"Number one, restoring integrity to the office of attorney general. Number two, cleaning up the mess that exists there," said Shapiro. "And number three, talking about being an attorney general that will fight for all Pennsylvanians."

To win, Shapiro must defeat not only Kane, if she survives legal challenges and runs for re-election, but he must also defeat Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala who announced his candidacy recently.

"I haven't seen him anywhere on the trail," Shapiro says of Zappala. "I run all over this Commonwealth. Just this past weekend, I think I was in seven or eight counties for different events from as far away as Erie down to Delaware County. I don't see him anywhere."

But unlike Zappala -- and another Democratic candidate, Northampton District Attorney John Morganelli -- Shapiro has never been a prosecutor.

"We're not electing the 68th district attorney. We're electing someone who can go out and be a champion for all Pennsylvanians. We're electing someone to oversee a complex civil division."

Shapiro says the attorney general has a much broader responsibility than protection against crime.

Shapiro: "We talk about a thorough education. We talk about clean air and pure water. Those are constitutional standards. Those aren't aspirational goals. Those are constitutional rights."

Delano: "And the attorney general should enforce those rights?"

Shapiro: "I think the attorney general should."

And the former state legislator says the AG must engage in all aspects of public policy.

"I will be an activist attorney general," says Shapiro.

"I'll be the person that people can call on. We're going to restore ethics to the office. We're going to rebalance the focus and priorities of that office to focus on meeting the needs of the people of Pennsylvania, and I'm going to be the people's attorney. I'm going to fight for them."

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Bottom line, Josh Shapiro is offering a different view of the role of the AG's office.

Early primary polling suggests Kane wins if she's in, but if not, there's a very slight lead for Zappala over Shapiro, although most voters are undecided.

And in what could be another east-west contest, sources tell KDKA that former Gov. Ed Rendell may endorse Shapiro as early as Wednesday.

The primary election is just 12 weeks away.

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