It would be easy for Pennsylvania voters to lose sight of the relatively low-key auditor general's race. But it's a crucial post in state government that deserves their attention.

The commonwealth's fiscal watchdog is responsible for about 6,000 financial and performance audits annually. The office checks the books of state agencies, counties, school districts, municipal pensions, and more.

In other words, the auditor general ensures taxpayers' money is spent properly.

The incumbent, Jack Wagner, has done a good job maintaining an independent voice while identifying questionable spending. But after two terms, the Democrat can't seek reelection.

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale (D., York) is unopposed in the Democratic primary. But the Republicans have two credible candidates battling for that party's nomination — State Rep. John Maher (R., Allegheny) and Frank Pinto, former head of the Pennsylvania Community Bankers Association.

The better choice is JOHN MAHER, whose background as a certified public accountant boosts his credentials considerably for this position. He founded one of the largest accounting firms in western Pennsylvania, which specialized in government work.

A seven-term legislator, Maher, 53, is also a coauthor of the state's Right-To-Know Law.

Pinto, 67, a college professor and former lobbyist, has an extensive political resume that includes stints as a committeeman and ward leader in both Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

While Pinto doesn't stack up as the best Republican choice for auditor general, he does make a good point in criticizing Maher and DePasquale for simultaneously running for reelection to the legislature, which could potentially require an expensive special election to fill a House seat.