Hurdles mount for governor as new row officers sworn in - abc27 WHTM

Hurdles mount for governor as new row officers sworn in

Posted: Updated:

It was a beautiful scene in the state museum. Eugene DePasquale was sworn in as the state's newest Auditor General and shared the stage with his wife Tracey, son Ben, and daughter Sarah.

Governor Corbett was on the stage, too, and smiled politely. But after Tuesday, and the swearing-in of three Democratic statewide row officers, Corbett's job got a bit tougher. Smiles won't be as easy to come by.

"The next year is gonna be a lot harder than the last year that's for sure," said Keegan Gibson, managing editor of Politics Pa. "Now Governor Corbett has a lot more checks on his power."

In his inaugural remarks, DePasquale said job one is a performance audit on the Department of Environmental Protection and its handling of Marcellus Shale drilling.

"To make sure our constitutional right to pure water is not being compromised," DePasquale said to thunderous applause in the state museum auditorium.

Marcellus Shale, of course, is one of Governor Corbett's signature projects, and it's about to be more closely scrutinized by an independent official.

"There's a lot of drilling going on, and we had to make cutbacks in state government operations," DePasquale said. "But going into the audit we have to have an open mind as to what the situation is."

Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the first elected Democrat and woman to the post, could be even more irksome for the governor. She has promised to probe his handling of the Sandusky investigation, specifically wondering why it took years from first allegation to arrest.

Experts suggest that position, more than any other, helped Kane get more votes than any other nominee on the Pennsylvania ballot in 2012, and it could be seen as a mandate to challenge Corbett.

Just before Kane was sworn in as Attorney General at the Capitol Rotunda,  Rob McCord was sworn in to a second term as Treasurer in the Keystone Building.

He admitted afterward that he's mulling a run for governor in 2014 and could present a major political challenge to the governor. McCord, like many Democrats, is aware of the governor's low approval numbers.

"The evidence suggests that if the election were held today he's vulnerable," McCord said. "And that he has a lot of work to do to be less vulnerable."

All three row officers have cards to play that are potential blocks to the governor's plan to let the British firm Camelot run the Pennsylvania Lottery.

McCord is threatening to freeze payments to Camelot until he's satisfied the governor can expand gaming without legislative approval. Kane, as Attorney General, must sign off on the contract. DePasquale said he'll make audit any deal to make sure that seniors get every penny they're entitled to.

So while three Democrats and their supporters were whooping it up with handshakes and hugs in Harrisburg Tuesday afternoon, one major player wasn't celebrating.

"I think Governor Corbett is not enjoying today too much," Gibson said.

Powered by WorldNow