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Candidate 101

Who is Craig Williams, a Republican running for Pa. attorney general?

by Félicie Jungels, Maya Mehrara, and Sophia Takla for Spotlight PA |

Republican attorney general candidate Craig Williams
Courtesy candidate website

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HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania voters will elect a new attorney general this November, but Democrats and Republicans first must pick their candidates this spring.

Craig Williams is one of two Republicans running for his party’s nomination and will appear on the April 23 primary ballot.

The attorney general represents the interests of the state and the public, and defends Pennsylvania’s laws in court. In recent years, the office has defended the results of the 2020 presidential election against numerous attempts to overturn them.

Learn more about Williams below.

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Who is Craig Williams?


Born in Alabama, Williams graduated from Duke University, the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and Columbia Law School.

During his 28-year career in the Marine Corps, he was chief prosecutor at Camp Pendleton in California.

Williams also was a federal prosecutor in the District of Colorado and Eastern District of Pennsylvania, working on “child abuse, drugs, street crime, and fraud” cases, The Inquirer reported in 2008.

He later was a lawyer for Peco Energy Co., a Philadelphia-area electric and gas utility.

Williams was elected to the Pennsylvania House in 2020 to represent District 160, which includes parts of Chester and Delaware Counties. While voters in this area have consistently supported Republicans for the state House, they have also picked Democrats at the top of the ticket.

If the 2020 presidential election had been held under the current state House map, President Joe Biden would have won District 160 by almost seven percentage points. Williams has pointed to his success in the area as a reason Republicans should support him.

In his first term, Williams introduced a bill that later became a law allowing the state National Guard to provide cybersecurity support and training to entities including state and local governments.

He’s also sponsored bills that would give the Office of Attorney General concurrent jurisdiction over gun crimes in Philadelphia — meaning the state could bring charges even if a local district attorney has declined to — and that would require individuals convicted of sex trafficking to register as sex offenders. Both passed the state House but were not considered by the Senate.

Williams also chaired the state House’s impeachment managers in the 2022 effort to remove Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner from office. Managers are charged with presenting the case for removal to the state Senate. However, no trial was ever held due to procedural issues and court challenges.

With the state House under Democratic control, Williams has occasionally voted for that party’s priorities, such as expanding state background checks to all firearm purchases. However, Williams also voted against two other firearms-related bills, including one that would establish emergency risk protection orders, which would let law enforcement or family petition a judge to take away an individual's guns if they are deemed a threat.

Top issues: Williams has made crime, particularly in Philadelphia, and gun violence the centerpieces of his campaign.

He wants the legislature to give the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction over gun crimes, meaning the state could bring charges even if a local district attorney has declined to. He has introduced a bill that would give the AG’s office that power in Philadelphia, and during a March debate, he said he would want to expand such power to “other cities where these progressive district attorneys are refusing to prosecute gun crimes.”

During that same debate, Williams said he does not believe the state constitution guarantees a right to abortion access, arguing that decision belongs to the legislature.

“My role as the attorney general will be to enforce the constitution and make sure that anything that is done to try to circumvent the constitution with respect to the Abortion Control Act, that I'll go in and defend the constitution,” he said.

When asked about lingering concerns about election integrity and Shapiro’s approach to litigation on that topic in 2020, Williams co-opted Shapiro’s term: “I found [Shapiro] to be ‘uniquely unserious’ in his tweets and his mannerisms in the way that he dealt with half of Pennsylvania who disagreed with the outcome of the election.”

Williams said the attorney general should investigate all allegations of fraud and “convince all of Pennsylvania that they're operating in a fair system.”

Endorsements: state House Republican lawmakers including Minority Leader Bryan Cutler.

>>READ MORE: A complete guide to the primary candidates for attorney general

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