William “Bill” McSwain, a former Marine and U.S. attorney, announced Monday his candidacy seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania.
From the steps of the Chester County Courthouse, McSwain promised to bring the Marine’s motto of “Semper Fidelis” to the job of Pennsylvania governor, saying in his closing, “Semper Fi, Pennsylvania. You can count on me to be faithful to you. Always.”
He also took direct aim at many of the hot political debates of the moment while speaking to approximately 100 friends and supporters gathered for the announcement.
“We will never cut police funding and will stand up to those who try,” he said, referencing the “Defund the police” movement.
“We will have an educational system that empowers parents and puts students and teachers first, and puts teachers unions last,” he said. Teachers unions have become even more of a target for conservatives in the last two years as many on the right see the unions as an obstacle to the return of in-classroom instruction.
After today’s announcement in West Chester, McSwain will make a two-day swing through most of the state including stops in Reading, Erie, Johnstown, Harrisburg, and Scranton.
McSwain, 52, most recently served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for two-and-a-half-years. Despite the relatively short stint, he presided over some highly publicized moments such as shepherding grand jury indictments against Johnny Dougherty, one of the most influential labor leaders in all of Pennsylvania.
His office also brought charges of voter fraud prior to the 2020 election against former U.S. Representative Michael “Ozzie” Myers, alleging that Myers paid people to stuff ballot boxes.
But the overarching thrust of his period in office was constant conflict with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, frequently called the most progressive prosecutor in the nation. In Krasner’s time in office, Philadelphia has struggled to contain a homicide and gun violence crisis.
The overarching thrust of his period in office was constant conflict with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, frequently called the most progressive prosecutor in the nation.
McSwain took his post at the Justice Department in April of 2018. Ten months later, Krasner assumed his duties in Philadelphia.
When some of the protests in Philadelphia related to George Floyd’s murder last year devolved into rioting and looting, McSwain said Krasner was making the situation worse.
“I think that what’s important is for people to recognize — and all public officials in Philadelphia responsible for public safety — to speak with one voice to condemn this looting, condemn this rioting, condemn this lawlessness,” U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain told WPHT radio’s Dom Giordano.
At other times, McSwain launched initiatives that were plainly aimed at prosecuting many of the crimes that Krasner was trying to de-emphasize, including robberies of commercial businesses.
Just last month, McSwain had to manage a controversy involving President Trump and former attorney general Bill Barr. Trump released a letter in which McSwain said he was prevented by Barr from investigating voter fraud after the 2020 election. Barr refuted the idea, saying, “I never told him not to investigate anything.”
In his announcement, McSwain tried to go on offense regarding voting integrity.
“I know that election fraud exists because I actually prosecuted and convicted ballot stuffing election officials in Philadelphia while I was U.S. Attorney,” he said, referring to the Ozzie Meyers indictments.
“We will secure our elections by having common sense laws to protect against fraud, such as voter ID, and by having statewide election officials who are focused on transparency and accuracy, rather than on partisan politics. We will make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
McSwain enters an already crowded race for the Republican nomination. The most prominent candidates to have already announced is Charlie Gerow, a long-time political analyst, consultant, and commentator in Harrisburg, and former congressman Lou Barletta.
On the Democratic side of the race, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is widely thought to be the frontrunner in a field that does not seem to be as widely contested as the Republican nomination. Gov. Tom Wolf is in the final two years of his second term and is term limited.
READ MORE — The many unanswered questions surrounding AG Josh Shapiro
McSwain called both Democrats out in a way that seems to anticipate Shapiro winning his party’s nomination.
“So here’s what we need to do, together,” McSwain said in the speech. “First, we’ll restore the freedoms that Wolf and Shapiro have taken away. We will have no forced closings and no state dictates on how Pennsylvanians live their lives.”
Other Republicans announced as candidates include Jason Monn, former mayor of Corry, Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh-based attorney Jason Richey; John Ventre, a retired UPS executive; Nche Zama, a cardiothoracic surgeon; and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale. State Senator Doug Mastriano is widely believed to be running as well, but has not announced a candidacy.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at email@example.com, or use his encrypted email at firstname.lastname@example.org.