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Pa. election 2024: What the latest fundraising reports tell us about the attorney general race

A sign for the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.
Commonwealth Media Services
Attorney General Michelle Henry discussed an investigation of a house explosion in Greene County in 2018 that resulted in criminal charges. Attorney General Henry also provided an update on the family that was impacted by the incident. Pictured here is Attorney General Michelle Henry delivering remarks during the event. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. November 1, 2023.

The five Democrats running to be Pennsylvania’s attorney general raised almost $1.2 million in the weeks leading up to the April 23 primary, mostly from Philadelphia trade unions, lawyers, elected officials, and other monied interests based in the city.

In the two-way Republican race, the party-backed candidate outraised his opponent while getting a major spending boost from a conservative political group backed by Pennsylvania’s wealthiest man, Jeff Yass.

Though all of Pennsylvania’s row offices — attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer — are on the ballot this year, the attorney general race is the only one without an incumbent (Democrat Michelle Henry declined to run) and the most crowded.

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The attorney general serves as Pennsylvania’s lawyer, defending the state in court and prosecuting a range of cases from public corruption to illegal firearms to unfair business practices. In recent years, the office has defended the results of the 2020 presidential election, investigated the Catholic Church for child sex abuse, and sought millions in settlement money from pharmaceutical companies that contributed to the opioid crisis.

The position has also been a launch pad for politicians seeking higher office, with two of the state’s last three governors serving as attorney general before their election to the executive branch.

The office has been under Democratic control since 2013 — save for a brief period in 2016 — and winning it back is a major priority for Republicans. The party’s establishment has coalesced behind York County Attorney General Dave Sunday instead of state Rep. Craig Williams of Delaware County.

The five Democrats seeking the office are former Philadelphia chief public defender Keir Bradford-Grey, former state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Kahn, state Rep. Jared Solomon of Philadelphia, and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.

How much the Democratic candidates raised and spent

Fundraising by the Democratic field is roughly on par with that of the 2016 primary. That year, then-Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro won the nod in a three-way race.

Solomon, a state representative from Philadelphia, continued to lead the field financially, raising $363,000 between March 5 and April 8, on top of the $1.1 million he raised over the past year.

That includes $25,000 from a PAC associated with skill games producers and operators, $15,000 from former state Sen. Constance WIlliams, and $10,000 from Amir Goldman, founder of Susquehanna Growth Equity. (The firm is an offshoot of Susquehanna International Group, co-founded by Yass.)

Solomon’s campaign spent just over $1 million of the $1.5 million it had available. It paid a little under $1 million to Grassroots Media LLC, a Bala Cynwyd-based public relations firm, for media buys in TV and digital.

Stollsteimer, the district attorney in Delaware County, raised around $352,000 during the five-week cycle, mostly from unions representing the construction trades, including $50,000 from Philadelphia’s IBEW Local 98 and $25,000 each from the city’s bricklayers and steamfitters unions.

He also received $20,000 from a PAC associated with the Philadelphia injury law firm Pond Lehocky.

Stollsteimer’s campaign spent $637,000 during that same period, much of it to pay the Chicago public relations firm SP Media Group for consulting and TV buys.

Bradford-Grey, the former chief public defender in Philadelphia, raised $114,000 — doubling her campaign’s cash on hand — while also depending heavily on Philadelphia-based donors.

Among her contributors are several Philadelphia-based Democratic elected officials, including state Sens. Vincent Hughes, Anthony Williams, and Art Haywood, as well as current City Council Member Curtis Jones and former Council Member Blondell Reynolds Brown.

Her single biggest donor was the Philadelphia laborer’s union, which gave her $15,000. She also received $10,000 from Emily’s List, a national group that backs women who support abortion access.

According to the latest finance report, Bradford-Grey’s campaign spent $134,000 during the five-week cycle, making several small payments for consulting to firms or individuals both in and out of state.

Unlike the other candidates, DePasquale — the state’s former auditor general — has raised little money from Philadelphia donors, instead tapping individuals from the western half of the state.

He raised just $88,000, bringing his total cash on hand to just under a quarter of a million dollars. His two biggest donations, each worth $10,000, came from the Pittsburgh chapter of a union representing heavy machinery operators, and Thomas Hagen, the billionaire chair of Erie Insurance.

DePasquale’s campaign spent $132,000 over the five weeks. Half of that total went to Deliver Strategies, an Arlington, Virginia-based media company, for campaign production services.

Khan, the former Bucks County solicitor, raised $276,000, mostly three- and four-figure donations from people in the Philadelphia area. His biggest donor was Impact PA, a group that has historically supported Democratic South Asian candidates for public office. It gave Khan, who is the son of a Pakistani immigrant, $20,000.

He also received two $10,000 checks from lawmakers who endorsed him — state Sen. Nikil Saval (D., Philadelphia) and state Rep. Joshua Siegel (D., Lehigh). The latter was a loan.

Khan’s campaign spent just under $500,000 of the $619,000 it had on hand. It paid $430,000 to Mission Control, a Connecticut political consulting firm that specializes in Democratic candidates, for advertising and media buys.

How much the Republican candidates raised and spent

Sunday, the district attorney in York County, is endorsed by the state Republican Party and many elected GOP officials. He raised about $121,000 during the most recent five-week cycle.

The biggest single donation — $25,000 — came from the PA Future Fund, a PAC focused on supporting business in the state and connected to GOP power player Bob Asher. (Asher donated another $10,000 to Sunday directly from his pocket.)

Sunday also received $10,000 from Scott Hartman, CEO of the gas station chain Rutter’s, and $10,000 from David Barensfeld, president of the western Pennsylvania metal manufacturer Ellwood Group.

His campaign spent about $26,000, including $10,000 to South County Brewing Company for a fundraising event. Other expenses included $7,000 to Long Nyquist, a lobbying firm based in Harrisburg.

Sunday’s campaign also received a sizable amount of outside support from the Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which spent $301,000 on mailers, text messages, and digital media to support his candidacy.

The political group is financed by billionaire Yass and has poured tens of millions of dollars into statewide races since 2019 to aid the GOP, usually backing establishment-friendly candidates during the primary.

State Rep. Craig Williams (R., Delaware) raised just $7,300 during the five-week cycle, bringing his total cash on hand to $120,000.

His campaign spent nearly $25,000 during the same period, including more than $10,000 on a text messaging service called Peerly commonly used in political or nonprofit campaigns.

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