Jon Campisi Dec. 2, 2011, 10:18am

John C. Rafferty, a Republican state senator from eastern Pennsylvania, has thrown his name into the mix for those seeking to become the commonwealth’s next top law enforcement official.

Rafferty, who represents a handful of neighborhoods in suburban Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties, announced Wednesday that he is seeking to become the state’s next attorney general.

The post is currently occupied by Linda Kelly, a former deputy under now-Gov. Tom Corbett. Kelly was appointed to finish out Corbett’s term after the former attorney general ran for, and subsequently became elected to, the governor’s office.

Rafferty, an attorney who has been a senator for nearly a decade, said he believes he has what it takes to lead the state’s top prosecutorial agency.

“I have always thought public service is important and a noble profession and, with my background, this is just a natural step forward to serve all residents in the state,” Rafferty, on Thursday, told the Intelligencer newspaper, a daily publication in Montgomery County.

Rafferty has worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and he has also served time as a state deputy attorney general.

Rafferty, who serves the 44th Senatorial District, previously served as a township supervisor and as the solicitor for the Methacton School Board in Lower Providence Township.

There is currently no other GOP candidate for the attorney general post, news reports have stated.

But a few Democrats have announced their intentions to run for the job. They are Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran and former congressman from Bucks County, Pa.; Jenkintown, Pa. lawyer Dan McCaffery; and former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane, according to news reports.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Rafferty made his announcement during a news conference at the Fraternal Order of Police building in Harrisburg.

During his speech at the state capitol, the paper stated, Rafferty referenced the Pennsylvania State University child sex-abuse scandal, saying that as attorney general, he would prioritize fighting child abuse and protect Pennsylvanians from those who prey on young children.

He also vowed to crack down on the culture of political corruption that seems to have become so prevalent in the Keystone State, and has been marked by cases such as the so-called “Bonusgate” investigation, whereby taxpayer dollars were used to enhance political positions in the General Assembly, according to the Inquirer.

According to a biography on Rafferty’s website, the senator previously ran his own private law practice focusing on education, real estate, zoning and businesses and estates law.

Rafferty served as a state deputy attorney general from 1988 to 1991, where he focused on criminal law and grand jury investigations, his site states.

The Montgomery County native earned his law degree from Temple University.

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