Eugene DePasquale, Keir Bradford-Gray & Joe Khan (Photo collage by City & State Pa.).
By Harrison Cann
Keep an eye out for attorneys in the general election. And by that, we mean the race for Pennsylvania Attorney General is beginning to heat up as more candidates join a growing field.
The commonwealth has a history of attorney generals not only making a name for themselves as the state’s leading prosecutor but in years after, 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 Michelle Henry – 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 three candidates – all of whom are Democrats – has a bevy of experience throughout the local, county and state levels.
Here is a running list of all those running, and who’s been linked to a potential run:
Philadelphia’s former chief public defender is the latest Democratic entrant into the attorney general’s race. Keir Bradford-Grey, currently a partner in Montgomery McCracken’s litigation department, announced her campaign Wednesday. 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. 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 try to help keep defendants out of jail and fighting the use of cash bail for pre-trial detention.
(Editor’s 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. Former Auditor General and three-term state representative Eugene DePasquale 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 back 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.
Former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan resigned from his position in 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 last year 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.
Potential candidates rumored to be in the mix
Former U.S. Attorney Scott Brady
Former U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District
Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain
State Rep. Natalie Mihalek
State Rep. Jared Solomon
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer
York County District Attorney David Sunday
State Rep. Craig Williams
Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli
Harrison Cann is a reporter for City & State Pa., where this story first appeared.
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