Northeast Philly state Rep. Jared Solomon (center) stands with wife, daughter, and supporters to announce his campaign for Pa. attorney general. (Meir Rinde/Billy Penn)

State Rep. Jared Solomon has entered the increasingly crowded race for Pennsylvania attorney general.

The 44-year-old Solomon has represented the 202nd Pa. House district in Northeast Philadelphia since 2017, when he ousted longtime incumbent Mark Cohen.

Solomon said on Tuesday that he was essentially running against former president Donald Trump and his allies, and would work to protect vulnerable populations in a hostile political environment.

“We need an attorney general with the experience and vision to push back against those special interests at every turn. Our reproductive rights, our LGBTQ rights, workers rights, the very sacred right to vote will all be under attack,” Solomon told supporters at a campaign event outside Max Myers Recreation Center in Castor Gardens.

Three other Democratic candidates have declared so far: Philly’s former Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey, former Bucks County solicitor and Philadelphia district attorney candidate Joe Kahn, and former state Auditor General and U.S. House candidate Eugene Pasquale.

On the Republican side, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday is running, and several others are reportedly exploring potential candidacies.

The attorney general is the state’s chief law enforcement official, overseeing a staff of several hundred lawyers who prosecute criminal cases and some civil cases on behalf of state agencies. They also handle enforcement of consumer protection laws and other duties.

As one of the most prominent statewide elected offices, it has served as a springboard to the governorship for Josh Shapiro and former governor Tom Corbett. 

Current Attorney General Michelle Henry said she’s not seeking to keep the job. She took office earlier this year, succeeding Shapiro when he became governor. 

The two parties will select their nominees in a primary next April. Voters will cast ballots for the next attorney general in the November 2024 general election, as well as the next president, one of Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators, and other offices.

Pa. Rep. Jared Solomon, who grew up in Castor Gardens, was previously an antitrust lawyer, military lawyer, and community activist. (Meir Rinde/Billy Penn)

Solomon was previously an antitrust lawyer, military lawyer, and community activist. He said he would stand out from the field of candidates because of his history of on-the-ground work supporting his district’s diverse communities, and of bringing in public and private investment to increase opportunity and reduce blight.

He would use the power of the Attorney General’s Office to promote preventative justice programs, which seek to improve neighborhoods to reduce crime; partner with nonprofit organizations to help individuals and communities impacted by the opioid epidemic; and go after gun manufacturers, absentee landlords, and other “special interests.”

Those issues resonate in cities and towns across the state, Solomon said.

“I go to rural Pennsylvania and I talk about trash, I talk about opioids, I talk about almost all of the issues that we struggle with here as a community in the Northeast, and they talk about the same things,” he said.

An anti-corruption, pro-transit record 

Solomon grew up in the Castor Gardens neighborhood of lower Northeast Philly. He attended Abington Friends High School, Swarthmore College, and Villanova Law School.

He worked for a law firm in Philadelphia, helped run Joe Sestak’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaigns, served as an Army Reserve JAG attorney, and founded and ran a nonprofit community group in his neighborhood.

Solomon narrowly lost to Cohen in 2014 before defeating the 42-year incumbent two years later. He’s been unopposed in his subsequent reelection runs.

His priorities in the state House have included workforce development, supporting veterans, reducing gun violence, and streamlining access to state services for businesses, according to his campaign website. He chairs the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees.

After federal prosecutors charged then-Councilmember Bobby Henon with corruption in 2019, Solomon called for addition of a recall provision to the state constitution. Earlier this year he sponsored legislation to amend the constitution to automatically expel lawmakers convicted of a felony, saying it would build public trust in elected officials. 

He’s been a prominent proponent of the Roosevelt Boulevard subway and held a town hall on the proposed rail line extension last year.

Solomon was chosen as an impeachment manager for the planned Pa. Senate impeachment trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, which has been indefinitely postponed. Solomon and other Democrats have criticized Republican legislators for pursuing the case against the progressive prosecutor. 

Other Democrats who have been discussed as potential attorney general candidates include former U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. 

Among the potential Republican contenders are Scott Brady, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Bill McSwain, the former U.S. attorney in Philadelphia who previously ran for governor.

Meir Rinde is an investigative reporter at Billy Penn covering topics ranging from politics and government to history and pop culture. He’s previously written for PlanPhilly, Shelterforce, NJ Spotlight,...