This announcement comes in the wake of the critical role the attorney general's office played in the court defense of Joe Biden's 2020 presidential victory in the battleground state.
Stollsteimer's entry into the race adds to an already crowded Democratic primary field, where he stands as the only elected prosecutor. His competitors for the Democratic nomination are seasoned campaigners and courtroom veterans.
As part of his campaign strategy, Stollsteimer plans to leverage his experience as the twice-elected district attorney of Delaware County, the fifth-most populous county in Pennsylvania, located between Philadelphia and Delaware. "I am uniquely qualified because I do that work every single day in the fifth-largest county in Pennsylvania," Stollsteimer stated in an interview.
The 60-year-old Stollsteimer has an impressive resume, having served as a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia, a top official in the state Treasury Department, the state-appointed safety advocate in Philadelphia’s schools, and a senior aide to state House Democrats before his college years. A Philadelphia native, Stollsteimer earned his law degree at Temple University.
The attorney general’s office, as the state’s top law enforcement office, has an annual budget of approximately $140 million. It plays a significant role in arresting drug traffickers, combating gun trafficking, defending state laws in court, and protecting consumers from predatory practices. The office also defended the integrity of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election against repeated attempts by Donald Trump’s campaign and Republican allies to overturn it in state and federal courts.
Stollsteimer's most notable achievement is his fight against gun violence in the impoverished city of Chester. He utilized a partnership model that has proven successful elsewhere to connect offenders or known criminals with job training, school, or community-building programs. His office reports a 68% decrease in gun homicides since 2020 and a 65% reduction in shootings.
During his tenure as Philadelphia's state-appointed safe schools advocate, Stollsteimer had disagreements with district officials and the state Department of Education over what he perceived as a reluctance to report violent incidents. "Things have gotten worse, not better," he told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2011. "You can’t address the problem until you’re honest about it, and the district is not honest about it."
In 2019, Stollsteimer won his race for district attorney, becoming the first Democrat to hold the office in Delaware County, a former Republican stronghold that Democrats now control. He was reelected earlier this month by a margin of 22 percentage points, earning support from unions for building trades and police.
Stollsteimer's tenure as district attorney has been eventful. In one high-profile case, his office prosecuted three police officers who responded to a shooting outside a high school football game by firing at a car, resulting in the death of an 8-year-old girl, Fanta Bility, and injuring two others.
Stollsteimer is now the fifth Democrat to announce his candidacy, joining state Rep. Jared Solomon of Philadelphia, former state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, former federal prosecutor Joe Kahn, and Keir Bradford-Grey, the former head of Philadelphia’s and Montgomery County's public defense lawyers. On the Republican side, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and former federal prosecutor Katayoun Copeland have announced their candidacies.
Candidates must file paperwork by February 13 to appear on the April 23 primary ballot. Attorney General Michelle Henry does not plan to run to keep the office.