Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain announced his candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania at a press conference on the steps of Chester County Courthouse on Monday.
Several dozen supporters joined the event along with his wife Stephanie and their four children. McSwain becomes the 8th Republican candidate who has declared to run for Pennsylvania governor.
“I am a fighter, a fighter for conservative values that lift people up and enable our communities to thrive,” McSwain told the crowd.
“As governor, I promise to protect you from any threats in the federal government, including any attempts to impose socialism or to limit our freedoms.”
McSwain is a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, appointed by then-President Donald Trump. He was responsible for the public safety of the nearly 6 million residents of the district.
McSwain, also a former officer with the U.S. Marines, describes himself as a tough-on-crime candidate who will do whatever is necessary to ensure a safer, freer, and more prosperous Pennsylvania.
“I oppose Philadelphia’s dangerous sanctuary city policies. I put rioters, looters, and arsonists in jail who tried to destroy Philadelphia last summer,” he said.
“People who torched police cars and threw Molotov cocktails in front of City Hall are not heroes; they are criminals to be prosecuted,” he said. “I put violent criminals and corrupt public officials in jail.”
One of the speakers, Terri O’Connor, shared how McSwain came to her aid after her husband, Philadelphia police officer Cpl. James O’Connor was shot and killed in the line of duty.
On March 13 of 2020, Cpl. O’Connor, who was with a SWAT unit, was shot and killed as he entered a property while serving a murder warrant. Nine guns and a large quantity of drugs were later found on the property.
Terri O’Connor told The Epoch Times that McSwain took her husband’s case out of the Philadelphia district attorney’s office and pursued the death penalty against the murderers.
“So they [the killers] are not going anywhere now. There are no chances for any back door deals, anything behind the scenes,” she said.
She was thankful for McSwain’s efforts which means her husband’s killer will never be allowed back on the streets.
“If you do something criminal, you should be locked up and stay in jail. My husband’s murderers should have never been out of jail. They had multiple cases and they were let go and let out. And my husband’s not here now because of that,” she said.
McSwain stressed that he supports the police and upholds the rule of law.
“We will never cut police funding. We will stand up for the law-abiding people in the community. And when it comes to public safety, our priority will be protecting the people, not coddling the criminals,” he said.
McSwain also recognized police officer Bill Cahill who stood in the crowd.
“There’s actually a hero in our midst,” he said while pointing at Cahill who works for the Coatesville Police Department. About a week ago, Cahill was stabbed multiple times by a suspect during a police investigation.
As governor, McSwain said his priorities would be strengthening the economy, reducing crime, promoting school choice and pro-family policies, and keeping elections secure.
“We will make it easy to vote but hard to cheat,” McSwain said. “Now, I know that election fraud exists because I actually prosecuted it and convicted ballot-stuffing election officials in Philadelphia while I was U.S. attorney.”
The former federal prosecutor added that he would put parents before teachers’ unions.
McSwain has reportedly asked President Trump for his endorsement, but it’s unclear if or when he’ll get it for the 2022 election.
Democratic Governor Tom Wolf was re-elected in 2018 and is not allowed to run for reelection in 2022 due to term limits.
In a public statement, issued the same day McSwain announced his run, Wolf accused Pennsylvania Republicans of spreading election conspiracy theories.
“There were no irregularities, no conspiracies, and no fraud that occurred,” Wolf said.
In addition to McSwain, seven more Republicans have put their hand up for the Republican primary’s nomination: former congressman Lou Barletta, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, former Corry Mayor Jason Monn, vice chairman of the American Conservative Union Charlie Gerow, Pittsburgh attorney Jason Richey, retired UPS security and public affairs executive John Ventre, and cardiothoracic surgeon Nche Zama.
To date, nobody from the Democratic Party has announced they will run for governor but State Attorney General Josh Shapiro has expressed an interest in running for the position.
May Lin contributed to this report.