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York DA Dave Sunday Gets GOP Nod for Attorney General

The Pennsylvania Republican Party has endorsed York County District Attorney Dave Sunday for attorney general.

A United States Navy veteran, Sunday put himself through college and law school while working at UPS. Sunday leads an office of prosecutors and detectives who together investigate and prosecute approximately 9,000 criminal cases annually, according to his website.

Sunday won the regional straw polls. Both he and Kat Copeland, the former Delaware County DA and federal prosecutor, were interviewed by party leaders during a virtual meeting Monday evening, where Sunday got the nod.

Sunday was the first Republican to throw his hat into the ring for the attorney general nomination. Previously, Copeland indicated she would not continue in the race if she was not the endorsed candidate.

A third candidate, state Rep. state Rep. Craig Williams, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, plans to compete in the April 23 primary. Williams withdrew from contention for the endorsement over the weekend.

Sunday earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Penn State University in 2002 and graduated from Widener Law School in 2007. During law school, he worked as a legal intern at the United Nations Office of the Secretariat in New York, where he was assigned to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

After graduation from law school, he worked as a law clerk for Joseph C. Adams, former President Judge of the York County Court of Common Pleas. For the last 15 years, Sunday has been a prosecutor with the York County District Attorney’s Office and, prior to being sworn in as district attorney, served as the chief Deputy prosecutor of litigation.

Sunday said his approach to public safety resulted in a 30 percent decrease in crime during his first term; reductions in the prison population by almost 40 percent since its peak; a reduced supervision caseload; and a recent study conducted by IUP indicates that offenders in York have the lowest recidivism rate over a five-year period as compared to seven other counties. Additionally, since the implementation of York’s Early Termination of Probation Program, only 5 percent of the cases submitted recidivated within two years, resulting in a 95 percent success rate, now serving as a statewide model.

He has tried some 50 felony cases before juries and successfully prosecuted more than 10 of the most high-profile York County murders. Sunday has prosecuted multi-defendant gang murder cases and serves on the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

Sunday is married and lives in York County with his wife and son.

“I am thrilled with the experienced team that our State Committee has voted to endorse for the 2024 election,” said Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Lawrence Tabas, in a press release. “This team is committed, qualified, and prepared. We know they will be invaluable assets to citizens of the Commonwealth and the United States when they are elected in November.”

Along with Sunday for Attorney General, the state GOP has endorsed Dave McCormick for U.S. Senate, Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Auditor General Tim DeFoor.

Williams is already throwing punches.

“More than a year ago, the Republican lobbyists of Harrisburg and political establishment of Washington, D.C. picked their candidate for attorney general,” Williams said. “What they did not tell anyone was that they picked a Democrat in Dave Sunday. He runs his office like a progressive Democrat district attorney, rivaling Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner with his progressive policies of not prosecuting, letting people out of jail, and not seeking prison sentences. Sunday has allowed the City of York to become one of the most violent places in the commonwealth. He offers no contrast to the other Democrats in this race.”

John Gower, one of Sunday’s campaign managers, did not comment Monday night.

Williams has hired Mark Campbell, who served as campaign manager for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2021, to oversee his campaign.

Williams retired from the Marines as a colonel after 28 years of service. During that time, he flew 56 combat missions in the F/A18D during the Gulf War. He was decorated 11 times, including twice for valor in combat.

Williams attended law school while in the Marines and became the chief prosecutor for the largest base in the Marine Corps. He also served as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with an emphasis on ethics and detainee issues in federal court. He later served as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, focusing on gun crime, violent crime, and organized drug distribution cartels. He was also a prosecutor for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

He represents portions of Delaware and Chester Counties in the state House.

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Williams Takes Swipe at Rival Copeland in Attorney General Race

State Rep. Craig Williams, a Republican running for attorney general, attacked one of his primary opponents, former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland, on Saturday.

Williams, who represents parts of Delaware and Chester Counties, is a former Marine who served as a federal prosecutor in Denver and Philadelphia. He was also the chief prosecutor for the U. S. Marine Corps, as well as a Joint Terrorism Task Force member and deputy counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Copeland, who lost to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer in 2019, was also a federal prosecutor.

Willaims tweeted Saturday morning: “U.S. Attorney @McSwainPA said he had evidence of election fraud that DOJ shut down. AG Bill Barr said that was not true. The President called McSwain a coward. Kat Copeland was Criminal Chief under McSwain and was responsible for prosecuting election fraud. She owes us the truth.”

After losing the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump blamed McSwain for not investigating allegations of election fraud in Pennsylvania. Later, when McSwain campaigned for governor in 2022, Trump told people not to vote for him in the primary.

“One person who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for governor,” Trump said at the time. “He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive election fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealth. Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our country down. He knew what was happening and let it go.”

In that primary, Trump endorsed eventual nominee state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who lost the general election to then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D).

During the 2022 campaign, McSwain wrote a letter to Trump saying then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr had told him not to investigate or prosecute claims of election fraud but to turn over any cases to Shapiro.

“As part of my responsibilities as U.S. Attorney, I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations,” McSwain wrote to Trump. “Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities. I was also given a directive to pass along serious allegations to the state attorney general (Shapiro) for investigation — the same state attorney general who had already declared that you could not win.”

However, Barr said that was not true. He told The Washington Post: “Any suggestion that McSwain was told to stand down from investigating allegations of election fraud is false. It’s just false.” Barr added that the assertions “appeared to have been made to mollify President Trump to gain his support for McSwain’s planned run for governor.”

Copeland could not immediately be reached for comment.

“For the other two campaigns, this party endorsement process has been about hiding their candidates from public debate and hard questions,” said Williams. “This is but one of the many hard questions Kat Copeland needs to answer. She was at the heart of this controversy, and she should tell us the truth.”

Republicans statewide are holding straw polls this weekend to indicate their pick in the attorney general’s race ahead of the party’s endorsement vote on Monday.

In addition to Williams and Copeland, York County DA David Sunday Jr. is also seeking the nomination. Sunday, who was the first to declare his candidacy last June, is believed to be the frontrunner.

On the Democratic side, candidates include Stollsteimer, state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), former auditor general Eugene DePasquale, former Philadelphia Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey, and former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan. The state Democratic Party did not endorse any attorney general candidates at its December meeting.

The primary is on April 23.

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DelVal Rep. Craig Williams to Jump Into AG Race

State Rep. Craig Williams says Pennsylvania needs a Marine for attorney general. And he isn’t letting other GOP candidates keep him out of the race.

Williams, who has been widely viewed as a potential candidate for months, is expected to formally launch his campaign on Tuesday.

He is entering a crowded race with two Republicans already in the GOP primary — York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland — and at least five Democrats running as well. Sunday entered the race back in July and has been endorsed by the national Republican Attorneys General Association.

Asked why he was running when Sunday appears to have significant GOP establishment backing, Williams said it was because he could win the general election.

“Looking at the field that’s emerging for attorney general, I do not see or hear a narrative that’s going to win,” said Williams, 59. “And I’m absolutely determined to win this attorney general seat.

“I have the most breadth of experience,” said Williams, who represents parts of Chester and Delaware Counties. “I have run two times in 2020 and 2022 in the state House elections that nobody thought I could win because of the political climate, be it Trump or abortion. I worked my tail off, and I brought a narrative that was winning, which is one of public service, being a community-minded guy, and being a tenacious fighter. And those narratives brought me home to two victories.

“And I’m the only one who can win this race,” Williams added.

He is a former federal prosecutor who served in Colorado and Philadelphia. Williams also served in the Marine Corps for nearly three decades, flew 56 combat missions, was decorated for valor in battle, and retired as a colonel.

While in the Marines, he was a prosecutor and also worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Williams served as deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war on terror.

Williams has traveled to 30 Pennsylvania’s 67 counties so far to talk to people in a “soft launch” of his campaign.

“And I will tell you that my narrative of having been a nearly 30-year Marine Corps colonel, a combat veteran of Desert Storm, where I flew in the F-18, a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Colorado and Philadelphia, and deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs, there is nobody in this race with the experience and that wide (variety) of matters,” he said. “And when you couple that experience with the fact that we are living in unbelievably violent times, people want a combat Marine. People want somebody who is going to go out there and fight for them. And I’m hearing that in county after county. We need somebody that’s going to fight, and we need somebody that’s going to win.”

“Time and again, what I’m hearing is you’re the guy that can win,” said Williams.

As for Sunday’s early support, Williams said Sunday announced early because he does not have that much experience and needed to line up support to “deaden that blow” and put forth a storyline that “this decision is already made, and everyone else should just go away.”

“These same people that are throwing their support behind Dave Sunday have been losing campaigns for the last several years,” said Williams. “My campaign will be grassroots.

DVJournal asked Williams what he would do about violence since that is usually the purview of district attorneys, not the state attorney general.

“One thing I will do is go to the General Assembly and get authority for concurrent jurisdiction in these large cities where we’re seeing an escalation of gun violence,” said Williams. “I am the architect of the Gun Violence Task Force in Philadelphia, which gave the attorney General concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute gun crime in Philadelphia. (former attorney general, now governor) Josh Shapiro chose not to use it…I will be mobilizing a task force into Philadelphia.”

“Philadelphia needs a combat Marine right now,” Williams added.

Another Delaware Valley candidate for attorney general is Delaware County Democrat District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. Williams is a strong Stollsteimer critic.

Asked about Stollsteimer touting his reduction of the population in the county prison inmate population by 30 percent and “decriminalizing” small amounts of marijuana, Williams scoffed.

“He cannot ‘decriminalize’ anything,” said Williams. “What he can do is decline to prosecute just like (Philadelphia DA) Larry Krasner. The contrast between me and Jack Stollsteimer could not be any bigger. Jack Stollsteimer is about emptying out the prisons and putting criminals back on the street. I’m making sure we take the fight to violent criminals by way of my prosecution background and my combat experience. And Jack Stollsteimer is going to selectively choose which crimes he does and doesn’t prosecute. That’s a nullification of our legal process in exactly the same way that Larry Krasner has done to Philadelphia. And it’s no way to run the Attorney General’s Office.”

Williams was the manager in Krasner’s House impeachment. That case is now pending before the sate Supreme Court, which is set to hear arguments Nov. 28.

“I come to this fight with the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions in one arm and my Marine Corps sword in the other,” said Williams. “And I’m going to fight to keep people safe.”

In addition to Stollsteimer, the list of Democratic c candidates includes Kier Bradford-Grey, a former public defender; former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale; former Bucks County solicitor Joe Khan; and state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia).

Williams and his wife, lawyer Jennifer Arbittier Williams, have four children and live in the Garnet Valley School District.