Former U.S. Attorney William McSwain formally announced his candidacy for governor Monday and, true to form, he came out swinging. His targets were the current Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his party’s likely pick to replace him, Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

McSwain, a Republican who grew up in West Chester, stood on the steps of the Chester County Courthouse and spoke to about 100 supporters who enthusiastically applauded his remarks as a phalanx of TV cameras filmed the event.

“Tom Wolf and Josh Shapiro have driven Pennsylvania into a ditch, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to pull her out,” said McSwain. “And when we do, we’re going to be looking through the windshield, not the rearview mirror, and we are going to leave Wolf and Shapiro behind for good.”

“So here’s what we need to do together,” he said. “First, we will restore the freedoms that Wolf and Shapiro have taken away. We will have no irrational and unscientific closings and no heavy-handed state dictates on how Pennsylvanians have lived their lives. We will revive Pennsylvania’s economy by cutting taxes for working families, by supporting small businesses, by reducing regulations and cutting wasteful spending. We will promote our energy industry instead of trying to regulate it to death. We will get the government off of your back.”

McSwain, 52, is a former Marine who graduated from Yale and Harvard Law. He’s best known for his emphasis on law and order, an issue he also hit hard in his announcement speech.

Supporters applaud McSwain’s remarks.

“I put violent criminals and corrupt public officials in jail and I stood up to the radical leftist district attorney in Philadelphia, Larry Krasner,” he said.

“I opposed Philadelphia’s dangerous sanctuary city policies,” said McSwain. “I put rioters, looters, and arsonists in jail, who tried to destroy Philadelphia last summer. People who torch police cars and throw Molotov cocktails in front of city hall are not heroes. They are criminals to be prosecuted.”

“I personally argued and won the Philadelphia heroin injection site case preventing such sites from invading Pennsylvania neighborhoods,” he said.

“Now the cases I love the most are the ones that defend conservative principles, the (ones) people tell me I can’t win,” said McSwain. “For example, just behind me to my right is the historic plaque of the 10 Commandments presented to Chester County as a gift over a hundred years ago. After an atheist brought suit against the county, a federal judge actually ordered that plaque had to be removed until I got involved and got that decision reversed. And as a result, that plaque will be on our historic courthouse for as long as the courthouse is standing here, just as it should.”

The 10 Commandments plaque on the Chester County Courthouse.

McSwain also mentioned his victories in a case where Philadelphia tried to evict the Boy Scouts of American and another for a whistleblower who “Big Tech” tried to silence.

Small business owner Andy Hicks was one of the supporters who praised McSwain, along with Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline.

“It’s been a difficult seven years with Gov. Wolf at the helm,” said Hicks, president of Tripoint Properties in Downingtown. Wolf “has not done enough to create the kind of business-friendly climate to grow the economy and create the number of high-paying jobs that will allow Pennsylvania to compete for and keep the young talent we educate at our top-tier colleges and universities. The migration out of the commonwealth during Wolf’s two terms has led to almost no population growth, resulting in the upcoming loss of a congressional seat.”

Kichline said, “Things have gotten worse in the county under the current administration in Harrisburg. Taxes have gone up. Services have been cut. Businesses are leaving. And then COVID hits. To watch the liberal (Wolf) administration weaponize the COVID crisis to change policies, to attack our constitution, and to partner with the Democratically-controlled Pennsylavania Supreme Court to change our constitutional rights has been devastating. I saw firsthand the destruction of businesses, the jaw-dropping restructuring of our voting rights, and then, like many of you, I watched the riots last summer. And like many of you, I watched the liberals chose the side of the looters and the criminals in Pennsylvania over the average citizen.”

McSwain joins former congressman Lou Barletta, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, and Harrisburg-based public relations consultant Charlie Gerow in the GOP gubernatorial primary, with more candidates expected to enter. Shapiro, a Democrat, has not yet declared his candidacy but is widely thought to be running.

McSwain, who joined the firm Duane Morris after leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will spend the remainder of the week flying around the state and holding press conferences in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Harrisburg, and Pittston. McSwain and his wife, Stephanie, are the parents of four children and live in West Chester.