Bill McSwain, top federal prosecutor in Philadelphia under former President Donald Trump, will run for governor, he announced Monday, joining a crowded Republican field that may still yet get bigger.
McSwain's announcement was not a surprise.
He had written to Trump in July, seeking the former president's endorsement for governor and, before that, had told party figures that he intended to run.
It is his first run for public office.
McSwain, 52, lives in Chester County and went back to private law practice after more than three years as the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, which included Philadelphia.
Following his announcement, McSwain greeted a small crowd of supporters but declined repeatedly to answer questions from an NBC10 reporter. He would not discuss a return to school for Pennsylvania students amid the pandemic, the ongoing investigation by state Republican lawmakers into the 2020 presidential election, and if he expected an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
McSwain did tell supporters from a dais while announcing his candidacy that his approach to responding to the pandemic would differ significantly from Gov. Tom Wolf, at least philosophically.
"We will have no irrational and unscientific closings, and no heavy-handed state dictates on how Pennsylvanians live their lives," he said. "
"We will have no irrational and unscientific closings, and no heavy-handed state dictates on how Pennsylvanians live their lives," he said. "We will get the government off of your back."
As U.S. attorney, McSwain battled Democrats in Philadelphia over law enforcement policy, including going to court successfully to fight plans to open a medically supervised drug-injection site.
McSwain is coming off an episode in July where Trump — speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas — said he had a letter from McSwain that claimed that Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr, would not let McSwain investigate voter fraud in last November's presidential election.
McSwain's letter said he was given a “directive to pass along serious allegations to the state attorney general for investigation."
Barr denied that he ordered McSwain not to investigate allegations of election fraud, and said McSwain only made the claim to curry favor with Trump.
One of McSwain's longtime friends and supporters at his announcement in West Chester said the former prosecutor's candidacy has been a long time coming.
"I've been texting him for the last two years to ask him to run for governor because Gov. Wolf and (state Attorney General) Josh Shapiro, they just don’t get it," David Harvey, of West Chester, said.