York County’s Republican district attorney jumps into primary race for Pennsylvania attorney general

Dave Sunday is the first Republican to get in the race.

Dave Sunday

Dave Sunday, York County’s elected district attorney. (Sunday campaign)

Dave Sunday, York County’s elected district attorney, said Monday that he will run in next year’s GOP primary for state attorney general, making him the first Republican to get in the race.

Sunday, who has been York’s district attorney since 2018, joins three Democrats who also have announced they will seek the top law enforcement job in the presidential battleground state.

Sunday, 48, began working for the district attorney’s office in 2009. He was chief deputy prosecutor under the former district attorney, overseeing major crimes cases and the felony narcotics unit.

He was later appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to be special assistant United States attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to prosecute gang, gun and drug cases in federal court. In that role, he was involved with the arrest and prosecution of more than 100 people associated with the Latin Kings gang in York County.

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Through the district attorney’s office, he has focused on the opioid epidemic. He worked with the county coroner to found what became the nonprofit York County Opioid Collaborative, which works to increase access to treatment. He said its efforts have reduced criminal charges and the prison population and also freed up police to focus on violent crime.

“One of the most pivotal experiences in my entire life has been our battle against the opioid epidemic,” Sunday said in a phone interview. “It’s a generation-altering epidemic that we’re in the throes of fighting.”

Sunday enlisted in the Navy at age 18. Afterward he attended Penn State for an undergraduate degree in finance while working for UPS. He holds a law degree from Widener Law School.

“I had a very circuitous route to get to where I am right now,” he said. “It’s an important part of who I am and drives the vast majority of my criminal justice policies.”

The three Democrats who are also running are Keir Bradford-Grey, the former head of Philadelphia’s public defense lawyers; Eugene DePasquale, former state auditor general; and Joe Khan, a former federal prosecutor. State Rep. Jared Solomon has also said he is seriously considering running.

The state attorney general’s office has a budget of about $120 million annually and plays a critical role in arresting drug traffickers, fighting gun trafficking, defending state laws in court and protecting consumers from predatory practices.

The office helped lead state attorneys general in settlement talks with pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers over the opioid crisis. It also played a central role in defending the integrity of the 2020 vote in Pennsylvania against repeated attempts to overturn it in state and federal courts by former President Donald Trump’s campaign and Republican allies.

The attorney general’s office is currently led by Michelle Henry, who was appointed by her predecessor, Democrat Josh Shapiro, to serve the last two years of his term after he was sworn in as Pennsylvania governor in January. She has said she does not plan to enter the race.

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