Jon Campisi Dec. 7, 2011, 6:55am

The top law enforcer in one central Pennsylvania county has announced his bid to become the next top prosecutor in the commonwealth.

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said Tuesday that he is seeking the Republican nomination for state attorney general.

Freed, who was scheduled to announce his decision during a news conference at the county courthouse in Carlisle, Pa., told The Republic newspaper shortly before his planned statement that “tough times call for tough, experienced prosecutors, [and] I fit that bill.”

Freed’s announcement makes him the second statewide Republican looking to take the attorney general’s seat, which was previously held by Gov. Tom Corbett before he became the state’s top executive.

Former deputy attorney general Linda Kelly was appointed state attorney general after Corbett was elevated to governor.

Kelly, a Republican, had indicated when appointed to fill the remainder of Corbett's term that she would not seek election to the post.

Nils Frederickson, an Attorney General's Office spokesman, said opting out of the race come election time is not something required of appointees by law, but it has become pretty standard protocol in instances where deputies are appointed acting attorney general.

The only other Republican to announce his candidacy for attorney general thus far has been state Sen. John Rafferty, a suburban Philadelphia lawmaker who represents parts of Montgomery, Berks and Chester counties.

Freed told The Republic newspaper that if elected to the post, he would prioritize the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens, namely, children and the elderly. He also announced plans to crack down on illegal drug operations.

Freed also told the paper that he sees the importance of helping the GOP to retain the attorney general’s seat, one that has been continuously held by a Republican since the post was turned into an elected office back in 1980.

Freed is a graduate of Penn State University’s Dickinson Law School and he has worked the criminal division of the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office for much of his 16-year law career, the paper reported.

Freed became district attorney of that county back in 2006 when he was chosen to replace the then-district attorney who became elected to the county court system.

Freed was then elected to a full term in 2007 and succeeded in getting re-elected to the post this year.

On the Democratic side, three people have announced intentions to run for the attorney general’s office. They are former Bucks County, Pa. congressman Patrick Murphy, one of the lawmakers who had led the charge for the repeal of the nation’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy concerning gays openly serving in the U.S. military; Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane; and Jenkintown, Pa. attorney Dan McCaffery.

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