Campaigns & Elections

A guide to Pennsylvania’s attorney general race

Democrat Eugene DePasquale and Republican David Sunday face off in the race for the state’s top legal office

Dave Sunday; Eugene DePasquale

Dave Sunday; Eugene DePasquale Commonwealth Media Services

November’s general election features several marquee matchups with statewide implications, and while most eyes are on the presidential and U.S. Senate races, the outcome of the commonwealth’s row office races could have a significant impact on the state in the near future. 

The party nominees for attorney general – former Democratic state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Republican York County District Attorney Dave Sunday – took their respective primaries with relative ease in April. Now, less than six months away from Election Day, both candidates are looking to set themselves apart and garner the widespread support needed to earn a statewide victory. 

City & State has your guide to the campaign, candidate endorsements and more.

Eugene DePasquale

DePasquale was the first to enter the race last year; his candidacy followed an unsuccessful challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott Perry for the 10th congressional seat in 2020. A former auditor general and three-term state representative, DePasquale used his name recognition and statewide election experience to overcome a crowded Democratic field in the primary election. 

Although the Democratic Party didn’t endorse a candidate prior to the primary election, DePasquale received the most support during the party’s endorsement meeting last year. DePasquale, a Pittsburgh native, boasts his eight years serving as the state’s top watchdog and investigator through most of then-Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration as a key selling point, but he lacks the extensive law enforcement background that Sunday has touted throughout the campaign. 

DePasquale 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. Following his primary win, he said in a statement the campaign is about every Pennsylvanian - to protect democracy, protect abortion rights, and stand up for working folks.”

Endorsements: United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) District 10, AFSCME Council 13, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Italian American Democrats, Philly Neighborhood Networks, 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

David Sunday

Sunday announced his run in June of last year, becoming the first Republican to formally enter the race. The York County District Attorney since 2018, Sunday often testifies in Harrisburg on legal and criminal issues. He 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. 

Early in his campaign, he promoted 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. 

Williams was unable to earn statewide support compared to Sunday, however, with unofficial results showing Sunday with 67% of the vote – more than double Williams’ 33%. 

Sunday has said his priorities as attorney general would include targeting fentanyl coming into the country, gang violence, mental health, and protecting seniors. He’s also said he doesn’t believe the state constitution protects the right to abortion access, arguing the decision belongs to the legislature. 

Endorsements: Pennsylvania Republican Party, State Treasurer Stacy Garrity, U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser, Lloyd Smucker and John Joyce, State Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, State Sens. Mike Regan and Kristin Phillips Hill, the PA Sheriffs Association PAC, the Republican Attorneys General Association, Penn State College Republicans, the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 73, the Lycoming County Republican Committee