THE RACE TO BE the state's next attorney general has focused in the last week on Democrat Kathleen Kane's record in prosecuting rape cases when she was an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County.

Now a legal battle is shaping up there, as a political-opposition researcher has asked a judge to unseal court records in 93 rape cases. Researcher John Galvin, of Akron, Ohio, wants to examine the records, apparently sealed because they involve juvenile victims, to see if Kane played any role in those cases.

The Lackawanna County District Attorney's Office went to court last Friday, asking the judge to reject Galvin's request. In a court filing, the office said, "the information sought to be divulged would infringe upon the confidentiality of minor victims."

This all comes as the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based non-profit, is running television and radio commercials in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, slamming Kane as having a weak record in prosecuting rapists.

The group dragged its feet last weekend in editing the commercial after the Lackawanna County District Attorney's Office issued statements saying that Kane played almost no role in two cases cited as proof in the ad.

Galvin, who identified himself as an "independent researcher" for hire, said that he is not working for the RSLC and declined to identify who hired him to look into Kane.

The RSLC's monthly nonprofit finance reports on file with the IRS show no payments to Galvin.

Tim Kelly, campaign manager for Kane's Republican opponent, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, said that he has never heard of Galvin.

Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, on Thursday accused the RSLC of running an "unscrupulous smear campaign" against Kane, adding that it was "ridiculous not to assume that they're behind this invasion of privacy to child victims." Burn offered no proof to back up his assumption.

Galvin said that Lackawanna County Common Pleas Court clerks would let him see only a fraction of the rape cases that he asked to examine during a trip to Scranton this summer. That prompted him to seek a judge's help.

"My job is to collect the facts," Galvin said. "In Lackawanna County, they don't want me to find the facts."

Galvin plans to return to Scranton on Oct. 22 for a hearing on his request for the records. He plans to fight the district attorney's attempts to stop him.

"They're clearly not an objective party," Galvin said. "They're demonstrating partisanship by sending out press releases on Kane's behalf and intervening on requests for her cases."

John Brier, the attorney representing the Lackawanna County District Attorney's Office, said that the sole concern driving the challenge is keeping files involving juvenile victims private. He calls Galvin a political "gunslinger" and predicts that the judge won't care about the politics involved.

While Kane's record is under scrutiny, her campaign will receive a serious national bump Monday when former President Bill Clinton headlines a fund-raiser for her in Philadelphia.

Romney to stump in Philly

Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, may have given up on Pennsylvania as a swing-state in the Nov. 6 general election. But he still likes the state's deep pockets.

A source familiar with Romney's campaign said that they hope to raise $3.5 million to $4 million at an event Friday morning at the Union League. That includes a general reception for a few hundred people with tickets going for $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 and a "roundtable" limited to 50 guests paying $25,000 each.

Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, has been Romney's chief cheerleader in the Keystone State, going so far as releasing his own poll last week that showed the presidential race neck-and-neck here.

Real Clear Politics, a website that keeps averages of state polls, gave President Obama an 8.3 percent lead Thursday in Pennsylvania based on seven recent polls.

Romney is not airing campaign commercials in Pennsylvania.

The state party, Gleason said, will soon air ads for Romney in western Pennsylvania.

Gleason is pleased that Romney will follow up his private fundraiser with a public campaign rally at Valley Forge Military Academy & College on Friday. He sees signs that the Republican nominee is "keeping the fire flickering" in hopes of making Pennsylvania competitive against Obama.

"You don't make a personal appearance if you don't think you're in the game," Gleason said.

Vogler out at PPA

Chris Vogler, Republican leader of the 55th Ward in lower Northeast Philly, is out as head of the Philadelphia Parking Authority's red-light camera program.

Vogler, suspended from his job last month with the intent to dismiss, left the PPA payroll last week, agency spokesman Marty O'Rourke said.

Vogler, who was paid $80,736 per year after 6 1/2 years at the PPA, took the hit for two expensive technical blunders.

The PPA had to refund or forgive $1,354,900 in $100 red-light fines issued at Island Avenue and Lindbergh Boulevard this year because warning signs about new red-light cameras were not posted for 60 days, as required by law.

A 2008 problem with red-light camera calibration prompted the refund of $440,000 in fines.

Combined, that was nearly a $1.8 million loss for the PPA.