Pennsylvania's next auditor general will either be a licensed accountant who touts years of auditing experience or a local Democrat who claims he will be able to scrutinize government spending independent of the state's Republican governor.
Last month's primary narrowed the field to the two men.
State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York City, ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
In November, he will face state Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny County, who defeated a challenger April 24 for the Republican nomination. Maher, 53, is a certified public accountant and founder of a Pittsburgh accounting firm.
The auditor general conducts audits of budgets and programs under the governor to make sure taxpayer money is being spent appropriately and that rules are being followed.
The position is now held by Democrat Jack Wagner, who's nearing the end of his second term and can't run for re-election because of term limits.
Campaign plans: DePasquale said he will continue to campaign steadily for the next few months. After the state budget is settled sometime this summer, the campaign will ramp up, he said.
If he wins, DePasquale said he has three top priorities. First, he'd order an audit of all water-protection programs to evaluate whether Marcellus Shale natural-gas extraction is negatively affecting drinking water.
Next would be an audit of all job-creation programs, followed by an audit of all school districts "to find any dime of wasteful spending."
DePasquale said voters should consider the fact that he, as a Democrat, would be independent of Gov. Tom Corbett -- who was a major donor to Maher's campaign during the first quarter of the year, according to campaign finance reports.
Maher dismissed DePasquale's argument, asserting that the auditor general is responsible for overseeing the spending practices of hundreds of school districts and municipalities and thousands of state employees.
"The governor touches very few transactions himself," he said. "I would hope for a better understanding of the office by someone who seeks it."
During the campaign, Maher said, "My message will be constant, that the state will benefit from having an auditor general qualified to do the job.
"With the fiscal wreckage of the Rendell administration, Pennsylvania really does need a CPA who knows how to fight waste," Maher said. "You can't fight waste unless you can find waste. I know how to find waste."
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.