THE LOUD sucking sound heard from Nevada to New Hampshire is the 2012 presidential campaign consuming the electoral oxygen, if not every available 30-second commercial TV time slot, in the nine remaining swing states.
The unprecedented amount of presidential campaign money set to explode upon the airways in the 58 days to Nov. 6 will blanket the states yet to tilt toward President Obama or former Gov. Mitt Romney.
Those states remaining "In the Arena 2-3-4 Toss-up Category" three weeks before the first presidential debate are two western states – Colorado and Nevada; Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin in the Midwest, and the four eastern states of New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
If Christian Doppler could have devised a radar map to detect precipitation of presidential campaign funds spent, it would show those nine states covered in ominous shades of green being subjected to a downpour of 30-second TV ads.
As the race for president dominates TV, newspaper and radio, candidates for lesser-known statewide offices often get overlooked.
The Romney and Obama campaigns are purchasing some ads in the media markets of Pennsylvania but nothing compared to the wall-to-wall media carpet-bombing over Ohio and the campaign armies of northern Virginia.
Obama's lead in Pennsylvania remains sturdy and exceeds the margin of error. If this trend continues after the debates (Oct. 3, 11, 16 and 22), Team Romney could take its big money elsewhere, freeing up the airwaves, column inches and the political oxygen that in-state candidates desperately need for their messages to be heard.
Of particular importance in Pennsylvania are races for auditor general, state treasurer and attorney general. Republicans and Democrats have nominated qualified candidates for each of these important offices and they deserve our careful evaluation.
After all, the state attorney general is the commonwealth's chief law enforcement officer, the auditor general our fiscal watchdog, while the state treasurer collects, protects and invests Pennsylvania's financial assets.
In the April primary, Republicans nominated Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, 50, for state treasurer. Irey Vaughan is serving her fifth term on the board of commissioners.
She will face incumbent Democratic state Treasurer Rob McCord. McCord, 53, was elected treasurer in 2008. A 1982 graduated of Harvard University with a degree in history and economics, McCord received his master's degree in 1989 from the Wharton School of Business.
In the race for attorney general, Democrats chose Scranton native and former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane. A graduate of the University of Scranton and Temple University School of Law, Kane, 45, has 13 years experience and has prosecuted thousands of cases.
The GOP nominated Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed. Freed, 42, of Camp Hill, is a 1992 graduate of Washington & Lee University and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. He has worked in the DA's office since 1998, as an assistant DA and first assistant before being elected district attorney in 2005 and 2009.
John Maher of Upper St. Clair in Allegheny County is an eight-term member of the state House of Representatives and the Republican candidate for auditor general. Maher, 53, is also a certified public accountant and a magna cum laude graduate of Duke University, earning a degree in management sciences/accounting. He also studied at Oxford University.
Fellow House member and three-term Democrat Eugene DePasquale, 41, of York County will oppose Maher in the fall. DePasquale is a graduate of the College of Wooster. He earned his master's degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from the Widener School of Law.
The parties have selected several talented candidates for three extremely important positions. Amid all the noise, let them not be overlooked.
Kevin Blaum's column on government, life and politics appears every Sunday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.