Republican Bill McSwain, the former top federal prosecutor in Philadelphia, on Monday launched his 2022 campaign for Pennsylvania governor.
McSwain, of Chester County, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, was long expected to enter the race to replace Gov. Tom Wolf, who is term-limited and thus cannot run for reelection.
As U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, McSwain made headlines for his frequent bickering with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, whose policies he blamed for rising levels of gun violence in the city.
McSwain’s campaign characterized him as a “tough-on-crime candidate,” and, in a video released Monday, he vowed to “never cut police funding” as governor.
“I put rioters, looters and arsonists where they belong — behind bars,” McSwain said in the clip, an apparent reference to the unrest following George Floyd’s death. “I stood up for the good people in our community, including law enforcement officers who keep citizens safe.”
On McSwain’s campaign website, he touted his office’s legal work to prevent the opening of a supervised injection site for drug users in the city.
In the video, he touched on many GOP talking points, promising not to reinstate coronavirus-related business restrictions and protect Pennsylvanians from “any attempts to impose socialism.”
McSwain railed against “critical race theory,” a hot topic among conservatives, and supports legislation banning its use in schools.
He said he would lower taxes, ease regulations and support small businesses if elected.
In addition, McSwain alerted potential voters that he would “restore election integrity,” with voter identification laws and other “common sense” measures.
Earlier this summer, McSwain penned a letter to Trump claiming that the U.S. Department of Justice prevented him from coming forward with evidence of problems in the 2020 general election, according to an Inquirer report.
Former Attorney General William Barr flatly denied the allegations and said McSwain admitted that he was just trying to get Trump’s political support.
Neither McSwain nor anyone else has presented credible evidence of voter fraud in Philadelphia or elsewhere in the state.
“Just like the rest of the crowded field in the Republican primary, Bill McSwain is a right-wing politician who cares more about becoming Trump’s next apprentice,” Noam Lee, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, said in a statement Monday.
At his campaign announcement in West Chester, McSwain received support from Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline and Terri O’Connor, widow of Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor, who was fatally shot in the line of duty last year.
McSwain, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, left his position as U.S. attorney in January as President Joe Biden took office.
In the Republican gubernatorial primary, McSwain will compete for votes alongside former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale and GOP strategist Charlie Gerow.
Several others are reportedly considering a run, including state Sens. Doug Mastriano and Dan Laughlin.
On the Democratic side, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is widely anticipated to be the favorite, though no candidates have officially declared their campaigns.