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Ex-federal prosecutor to run for Pennsylvania attorney general

  • Emily Rizzo/WHYY
Joe Khan

 Courtesy of Joe Khan

Joe Khan

Former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan announced Wednesday that he will run in 2024 to be Pennsylvania’s attorney general.

Khan, a 47-year-old Democrat from Doylestown Borough, is a former prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He says he wants to tackle corporate and political corruption as the state’s top prosecutor.

Khan touts his work protecting votes in the 2020 election as Bucks County solicitor. In that role, he joined a national lawsuit against social media giants for allegedly fueling the youth mental health crisis, and joined with other Democrats to defend the Delaware River Basin Commission’s authority to ban fracking.

His legal department advised Bucks County on its allotment of the $45 million national opioid abuse settlement from big pharmaceutical companies. It also sued manufacturers of PFAS for contaminating water and soil in Bucks County. “We have to protect consumers and workers and just everyday Pennsylvanians from those corrupt corporations and crooked politicians that I’ve been going after during my career,” Khan said in an interview with WHYY News.

“I was a prosecutor who went after gun violence and sexual assault. I was a county solicitor who stood up for abortion rights … and I defended our democracy from Donald Trump,” Khan said.

Khan says as attorney general he would defend access to a clean environment, affordable healthcare, and public education.

It’s been rumored that Khan was planning to run for attorney general after he announced his resignation as Bucks County solicitor in February. His political action committee, Friends of Joe Khan, raised $176,007 in December alone, according to a campaign finance report.

Khan ran for Philadelphia district attorney in 2017 and came in second to Larry Krasner.

The position comes with a powerful and public platform. Gov. Josh Shapiro and former Gov. Tom Corbett were both attorneys general before winning their races for governor.

Khan is the second Democrat to announce his bid for the role. Pennsylvania’s former two-time Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced his run last week.

Other Democrats rumored to announce a run include State Rep. Jared Solomon of Philadelphia, former U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb, Philadelphia’s former Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.

Republicans who may be considering a run are state Rep. Craig Williams of parts of Delaware and Chester Counties, former Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, state Rep. Natalie Mihalek of Allegheny County, York County District Attorney David Sunday, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady, and Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli.

Khan is a first-generation American whose father immigrated from Pakistan. He said the Democratic Party needs an attorney general who is “engaged with immigrant communities across Pennsylvania,” pointing to the recent success of Neil Makhija in Montgomery County and Nina Ahmad in Philadelphia.

Khan served on the Governor’s Advisory Commission for Asian Pacific American Affairs and founded Second Generation PAC, which promotes political candidates from immigrant communities. Khan has two boys in the Central Bucks School District, is a lecturer in law at the University of Pennsylvania and a partner at Bucks County law firm, Curtin and Heefner.

Bucks County activists Megan Brock and Jamie Walker Cohen have been critical of Khan and county commissioners over the handling of Right to Know requests regarding the county’s COVID-19 masking guidelines.

Former Bucks County Commissioner Andy Warren, a Republican who lost in May’s primary, called Khan an “attack dog” for comments made at a commissioners’ meeting regarding a lawsuit filed by the county coroner.

Khan is so far endorsed by local and state officials including Bucks County state Reps. Tim Brennan and Brian Munroe, Chester County state Rep. Chris Pielli, and Philadelphia state Senator Nikil Saval.

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