Primaries For PA’s Statewide Row Offices Drawing Big Money

Money has poured in as the election races closer.

By Peter Hall | Pennsylvania Capital-Star

A sign pointing to a polling place. File photo.
Credit: Tom Sofield/NewHopeFreePress.com

State Rep. Jared Solomon and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer led the fundraising race in the five-way Democratic primary for Pennsylvania attorney general, according to reports published this week. 

The race for the Republican attorney general nomination has generated less heat but York County District Attorney Dave Sunday out-raised and outspent his opponent, state Rep. Craig Williams several times over and received a big boost from GOP mega donor Jeffrey Yass.

The attorney general is often considered the second most powerful elected official in the commonwealth. As the state’s top legal official, the attorney general steers criminal justice policy, investigates and prosecutes crime and serves as a consumer watchdog. Two of the last three elected attorneys general went on to serve as governor.

There are also contested Democratic primaries for the state’s other two row offices, auditor general and state treasurer. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta  (D-Philadelphia) and Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley are seeking the nomination for auditor general. State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) and Erin McCelland of Allegheny County are running for the treasurer nomination.

The winners of those races will go on to face incumbent Republicans, Auditor General Timothy DeFoor and Treasurer Stacy Garrity, who don’t have primary challenges.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s appointee for his unexpired term as attorney general, Michelle Henry, is not seeking election. The open statewide office attracted a crowded slate for the Democratic primary.

In addition to Solomon and Stollsteimer, the candidates are former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan, and former Philadelphia chief public defender Keir Bradford-Gray.

Solomon raised $363,000 in the latest campaign finance reporting period, from March 5 through April 8. On top of his fundraising efforts earlier this year, that gave Solomon more than $1.4 million. His spending topped $1 million, including more than $660,000 on advertising time. 

Notable donors to Solomon’s campaign include the political action committee backed by the distributors, manufacturers and operators of Pennsylvania Skill games. Shapiro has proposed regulating and taxing the slot-machine-like games, which are the subject of a state Supreme Court case over their legality. Jeffrey Millay, the CEO of Miele Manufacturing, which builds the machines donated a further $5,000.

Stollsteimer raised $353,000 to bring his war chest to $872,000. His campaign spent $637,000, of which $548,000 was for television advertising, his latest report says.

Labor unions were Stollsteimer’s largest contributors, with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 in Philadelphia donating $50,000, and the Bricklayers and Steamfitters unions each contributing $25,000.

Khan raised $277,000, giving his campaign $619,000 to work with. The committee spent $479,000. Khan’s top donors included the Democratic leadership political action committee Impact PA, fellow attorneys, state Rep. Nikil Saval’s (D-Philadelphia) campaign, and auditor general candidate Siegel’s campaign.

Bradford-Gray raised $115,000 bringing her total available during the reporting period to $229,000 and spent $134,000. Her top donors included EMILY’s List, a PAC that supports women candidates in favor of abortion rights with $10,000, and the Laborers union with $15,000.

DePasquale raised $88,000 for a total of $226,000 available during the reporting period. His campaign spent $132,000.

Sunday, who received the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s nomination for attorney general, raised $122,000 to give his campaign $299,000 during the reporting period. He spent only $26,000, but the Commonwealth Leaders Fund spent $301,000 on behalf of Sunday’s campaign. The fund is largely supported by Yass, the founder of Susquehanna International Group, who is a proponent of school vouchers.

Williams raised about $7,000 and spent $24,575 of the $121,000 available during the reporting period.

In the Democratic primary for auditor general, Kenyatta, who is also running for reelection to his state House seat, raised $60,000 and spent $84,000 of the $196,000 his campaign had available. Pinsley raised $15,000 and spent $23,000 of the $76,000 on hand during the reporting period. 

Bizzarro raised $101,000 and spent $271,000 of the $531,000 his campaign had available. Notable contributors included the IBEW with $20,000 and the bricklayers and operating engineers unions, with donations of $10,000 each.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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