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Sunday, Williams Face Off in GOP Primary for Attorney General

On April 23, Pennsylvania Republicans — and only registered Republicans — will pick their party’s nominee for attorney general. Two candidates, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and Delaware Valley state Rep. Craig Williams, hope to get the nod.

The attorney general is arguably the second most powerful state official after the governor. In several recent cases, the Attorney General’s Office became a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion, including for the current governor, Josh Shapiro (D). Former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett also previously served as attorney general.

Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., a former Montgomery County DA and county commissioner, is a Republican who served as acting attorney general after Democrat Kathleen Kane resigned following a conviction on perjury charges.

“The attorney general election is important mostly because it is a stepping-stone to the nomination for governor,” said Castor. “Most people think the attorney general is primarily a prosecutor. While that is far from the truth, perception is what matters. That is the only state row office which receives broad public attention.”

State Rep. Craig Williams

Sunday and Williams told DVJournal they are focused on the Attorney General’s Office and have no plans to run for governor.

“I think Pennsylvania is at a crossroads,” said Sunday, who has the endorsement of the state GOP. “If we can’t make our communities safer and healthier for our families and children, nothing else matters.”  Sunday is concerned about the world his third-grade son will grow up in.

Williams said, “I am focused on making Pennsylvania a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.”

And Williams said that he can win the general election over whichever Democrat wins the primary.

“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.”

Williams 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 worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Williams served as deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war on terror.

Sunday is a Navy veteran who was deployed to the Persian Gulf and put himself through college and law school while working for UPS. He leads a large office that prosecutes about 9,000 cases annually. Sunday was previously chief deputy prosecutor of litigation. Twice elected district attorney, Sunday said his approach to public safety resulted in a 30 percent decrease in crime during his first term and reductions in the prison population by almost 40 percent since its peak, a reduced supervision caseload. He noted a recent study conducted by Indiana University of Pennsylvania shows offenders in York County have the lowest recidivism rate over five years compared to seven other counties.

“My philosophy of criminal justice is accountability and redemption,” Sunday told DVJournal. A lot of crime

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday

comes from drug addiction and mental illness, he said.

He started the York Opioid Collaborative, working with families, the “faith-based community,” and hospitals to “do everything we can to get people into treatment.”

Williams has used his legislative position to attack crime, including passing a law for a special prosecutor for crime on and near SEPTA and a crime and gun task force. He also led the charge to impeach progressive Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, whose bail “reforms” and downgrading of gun charges have been blamed for spiking violent crime in the city that spills over to the suburbs.

At their debate, Sunday said he opposes Krasner’s impeachment and would allow the voters to decide the matter.

Sunday’s call for redemption means “emptying jails” and “fewer prison sentences,” Williams said.

Williams pointed out that Sunday was a Democrat until he was 37 and ran for DA in a conservative county, while Williams is a lifelong Republican.

Sunday’s “troubling record on public safety, evidenced by York’s murder rate surpassing Philadelphia’s, casts doubt on the authenticity of his 2013 switch to the Republican Party,” said Mark Campbell, Williams’ campaign manager.

Sunday said he switched from the “blue dog” Democratic party of his working-class family to Republican when he realized the Democrats were no longer in synch with his values. He said he voted for John McCain in 2008.

Castor said he has concerns about the “flexible” scruples of a candidate who changed parties. But “if the ‘party-flipper’ is the party-endorsed candidate, though, (they) can use that as a counterweight. Under these facts, I suspect party-flipping is not a major issue with the party endorsement providing cover.”

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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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