Bill McSwain, the former U.S. Attorney who is running for governor, is spending $6.8 million on cable and broadcast television, radio, and internet ads in the run-up to the May 17 Republican primary, according to filings. That is more than many of his opponents in the crowded GOP field have in their campaign coffers, let alone their advertising budgets.
Indeed, Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman’s campaign announced Monday it had raised $3 million and had $2.7 million cash on hand.
Garnering the backing of the endorsement of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, a free-market advocacy group, was a major coup for McSwain.
“We’re confident that as voters meet Bill McSwain and learn about his record, they’ll conclude he’s the best choice to serve as Pennsylvania’s next governor,” said Matt Brouillette, Treasurer of Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a political action committee affiliated with Commonwealth Partners.
“Bill is very honored to be able to share his message,” said Rachel Tripp, McSwain’s campaign spokeswoman. “With the combination of the Commonwealth Partners support and over 10,000 donors, this is the start of a long-term strategy.” The advertisements allow voters “share his vision,” she said. “This is just the beginning of a longer fight.”
Indeed the winner of the primary will almost certainly face Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state Attorney General who is running for governor and who just received his party’s endorsement last weekend. Shapiro, who has no primary challengers, will be well-funded for the general election.
However, it might not be smooth sailing for the former Marine.
“Having those kinds of resources is an undoubted benefit that allows a candidate to be competitive, but alone it is probably not sufficient to win,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “The strategy here may be to build momentum in order to attract more donors and perhaps scare off a few other potential candidates. Of course, candidates are not likely to win in this state based on advertising alone, so we will need to see how his campaign does organizing on the ground. His performance in the straw polls suggests he has some work to do with party insiders, which signals a disconnect with the local party leaders who are important in these primary elections.”
McSwain’s first television ad began airing on Fox News Monday. The commercial, entitled “Send In a Marine,” an announcer tells viewers McSwain served his country as a “scout sniper” in the Marine Corps and was appointed by former President Donald Trump as U.S. Attorney General for Southeastern Pennsylvania. In that role, he “put hard criminals behind bars and took down corrupt politicians.” The spot then pivots to tell the audience that as governor, McSwain would rebuild the economy, “reduce taxes on hardworking families,” and “empower parents to give their kids a great education.”
McSwain, 52, grew up in West Chester, where he still lives and graduated from Yale and Harvard Law School. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Stephanie. They have four children.
After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office, he joined the Duane Morris law firm.