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Candidate 101

Who is Joe Khan, a Democrat running for Pa. attorney general?

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

Democratic attorney general candidate Joe Khan
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.

Joe Khan is one of five Democrats 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 Khan below.

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Who is Joe Khan?


Khan grew up in Philadelphia, and attended Swarthmore College and the University of Chicago Law School.

He was an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and then an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In the latter role, he led corruption investigations into officials from Allentown and Reading.

Khan unsuccessfully ran for Philadelphia district attorney in 2017.

He was later appointed Bucks County solicitor and served in the role for three years. During that time, he was part of a joint lawsuit with Buck County’s district attorney against chemical companies they claimed had contaminated soil and water. Another joint lawsuit alleged social media companies had harmed the mental health of the county’s children.

As solicitor, he also defended the county against an attempt by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to throw out more than 2,000 absentee ballots that contained what a judge later called “minor irregularities” like unsealed privacy envelopes.

Khan is currently a partner at Curtin & Heefner.

Top issues: On his candidate website, Khan says he wants to tackle corporate and political corruption. If elected, he says he would focus on public safety, the housing crisis, enforcing the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment, and maintaining abortion access.

He also says he would establish a Housing Justice Unit and hold “energy companies accountable for the damage they have done to our planet and the health risks facing our children.”

When asked how he would address violent crime during a March debate, Khan said he would take a similar approach to when he coordinated a federal Violent Crime Impact Team nearly two decades ago. At that time, he said, the team focused on the small group of people most responsible for violence; he said the office also brought down gun trafficking rings and solved cold cases.

Endorsements: Democratic members of the legislature; county and local officials; organizations including Clean Air Action.

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

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