Keep an eye out for attorneys in the general election. And by that, we mean the race for Pennsylvania Attorney General, which continues to build momentum ahead of the May primary.
The field of Democratic candidates in the state attorney general’s race continues to rack up endorsements as primary election season is in full swing. Notably, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer picked up endorsements from organized labor groups IBEW Local 98, Laborers Local 413 and Sheetmetal Workers Local 19.
The commonwealth has a history of attorney generals making a name for themselves first as the state’s leading prosecutor and then as governor, including the last two elected attorneys general in former Gov. Tom Corbett and current Gov. Josh Shapiro.
In order to run for the position – which is currently held by Democrat Michelle Henry, who succeeded Gov. Josh Shapiro – a person must be at least 30 years old, have been a resident for at least seven years, and be a member of the bar of the state Supreme Court. Thus far, each of the candidates – now including two Republicans and five Democrats – has a bevy of experience at the local, county and state levels.
While party leaders for the GOP recently issued their endorsement, the Democratic Party ultimately declined to endorse a candidate in December, though Eugene DePasquale – the former auditor general and current attorney general candidate – received the most support during his party’s endorsement meeting.
Here is a running list of all those running and their endorsements:
Sunday announced his run on June 10, becoming the first Republican to formally enter the race. The York County District Attorney has been in the position since 2018 after spending time as chief deputy prosecutor under his predecessor. Sunday, who often testifies in Harrisburg on legal and criminal issues, previously gained notice in the region for his appointment to be special assistant United States attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to prosecute federal gang, gun and drug cases. He kicked off his campaign by touting his experience as a litigator and prosecutor, including his work fighting illegal drugs and his experience as a U.S. Navy veteran. And in January, the state Republican Party backed Sunday in the race over former Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland and state Rep. Craig Williams. Copeland subsequently ended her campaign, while Williams used the snub to further his campaign.
Endorsements: Pennsylvania Republican Party, State Treasurer Stacy Garrity, U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser and Lloyd Smucker, State Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, State Sens. Mike Regan and Kristin Phillips Hill, the PA Sheriffs Association PAC and the Republican Attorneys General Association.
Republican state Rep. Craig Williams entered the race for AG on Nov. 28, saying in his announcement that Pennsylvania needs an attorney general who “focuses on prosecution, not political posturing.” Williams, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, previously spent time as deputy legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and also served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. Despite the GOP endorsement going to Sunday, Williams has yet to end his campaign and went as far as comparing Sunday to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a progressive prosecutor who’s drawn the ire of Harrisburg Republicans.
Endorsements: House of Representatives Southwest Caucus, including state Reps. Natalie Mihalek, Tim O’Neal, George Dunbar, Josh Kail, Jim Marshall, Jesse Topper and Andrew Kuzma
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer announced on Nov. 27 that he is running for attorney general in 2024, joining a growing race of contenders seeking the Democratic nomination in next year’s primary. According to Politics PA, Stollsteimer made public safety, environmental and economic justice, as well as protecting abortion rights key focal points in his announcement. Of all the Democrats running for AG, Stollsteimer is one of only two with experience as a prosecutor. He was also the top vote-getter during Democratic conventions in southeastern Pennsylvania, earning endorsements from the party in both Chester and Delaware counties.
Endorsements: IBEW Local 98, Laborers Local 413, Sheetmetal Workers Local 19, Pittsburgh Building Trades, the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council, the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, and Teamsters Joint Council 53.
Jared Solomon, a Democratic state Rep. from Northeast Philadelphia, became the fourth Democrat to enter the primary on Sept. 12 – joining the likes of attorney Keir Bradford-Gray, former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan. Solomon had the backing of 19 state lawmakers upon entering the race, including state House Majority Leader Matt Bradford, and he appears to be prioritizing public safety, violence prevention and anti-corruption initiatives early on.
Solomon – a former JAG officer in the Army Reserve and a current JAG officer in the Pennsylvania National Guard – chairs the House Veteran Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee. In 2019, Solomon introduced a measure seeking to give voters the ability to recall elected officials after then-Philadelphia City Council member Bobby Henon was hit with bribery, fraud and conspiracy charges. This session, Solomon has sponsored a proposal that would bring open primaries to Pennsylvania.
Endorsements: Transport Workers Union Local 234, Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association, Pittsburgh Fire Fighters IAFF Local No. 1, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, Philadelphia Firefighters’ and Paramedics’ Union IAFF Local 22, VoteVets PAC, State Sen. Christine Tartaglione and state Reps. Matt Bradford, Dan Miller, Joe Ciresi, Mary Jo Daley, Tina Davis, Nancy Guenst, Jim Haddock, Kristine Howard, Anita Kulik, Maureen Madden, Steve Malagari, Eddie Day Pashinski, Tarah Probst, Abigail Salisbury, Ben Sanchez, Christina Sappey, Ben Waxman, Joe Webster and Dan Williams
Former Philadelphia Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey, currently a partner in Montgomery McCracken’s litigation department, announced her campaign in June. She would be the first Black attorney general and the first attorney general with primarily public defender experience in the commonwealth’s history.
Bradford-Grey touted her connection to Gov. Josh Shapiro in her campaign launch. Shapiro recruited her as Montgomery County’s chief public defender in 2012 prior to her time with the Defender Association of Philadelphia. She’ll continue to highlight her commitment to enacting criminal justice reform, including creating programs to help keep defendants out of jail and fighting the use of cash bail for pre-trial detention. And just last week, six female elected leaders in Delaware County backed Bradford-Gray over Stollsteimer, their county district attorney.
Endorsements: Working Families Party, EMILY’s List, Teamsters Local 623, The Collective PAC, Higher Heights for America PAC, and a number of local officials including state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, Philadelphia City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, state Reps. Carol Kazeem, Regina Young, Gina Curry and Heather Boyd, Collingdale Councilmember Felecia Coffee and Upper Darby Councilmember Michelle Billups.
Note: Keir Bradford-Grey is a member of the City & State PA advisory board.
The first candidate to throw their hat in the ring is one whose name is known in the Harrisburg region. Eugene DePasquale, a former auditor general and three-term state representative, formally kicked off the race at the start of June when he announced his run. DePasquale served as the state’s top watchdog and investigator for nearly eight years through most of then-Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. More recently, he unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Scott Perry for the 10th congressional seat in 2020.
DePasquale, a Pittsburgh native, boasts of his time in Harrisburg as a key selling point, but he does not have the extensive law enforcement background that other candidates possess. He said he’s committed to addressing violent crime but that the office’s reach should go beyond that and expand into areas like environmental and consumer protection.
Endorsements: Beaver County Democratic Committee, Steel City Stonewall Democrats, Chartiers Valley Democrats, Pitt College Democrats, Perry County Democratic Committee, Armstrong County Democratic Committee, Northumberland County Democratic Committee, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Central PA Building Trades, Ironworkers Local 3, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520, United Rural Democrats, Ricky’s Pride PAC, and various local and regional officials, including former Congressmember Mike Doyle, Adams County Commissioner Marty Qually, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Controller Corey O’Connor, Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic, Jr., Pittsburgh City Councilmember Bobby Wilson, Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley and York Mayor Michael Helfrich.
Former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan resigned from his position last February to return to the private sector. A Democrat from Doylestown Borough, Khan, who remains a partner at Yardley’s Curtin & Heefner LLP as a public sector attorney, became the second Democrat to join the race when he formally announced his run on June 7. Khan, whose father immigrated from Pakistan, has made a point of saying that the party needs an attorney general who is “engaged with immigrant communities” across the state. His brother, Tarik Khan, was elected to the state House to represent the 194th District in Philadelphia.
Khan’s experience includes time as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as a failed attempt to become Philadelphia District Attorney in 2017. During his tenure as Bucks County Solicitor, Khan defended the county ballots against former President Donald Trump’s challenges and joined a national lawsuit against social media giants.
Endorsements: the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, The Impact Fund, the Bucks County Democratic Committee, Metal Trades Department, State Sens. Katie Muth, Nikil Saval and Steve Santarsiero; state Reps. Tim Brennan, Melissa Cerrato, Paul Friel, Matt Gergley, Roni Green, Joe Hohenstein, Mary Isaacson, Tarik Khan, Jennifer Mann, Brian Munroe, Chris Pielli, Mark Rozzi, Peter Schweyer, Josh Siegel, and Ismail Smith-Wade-El; and various county and local officials including Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie, Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong, Whitehall Mayor Ed Hozza, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure and former Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell.