Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Seth Williams for Senate?

WASHINGTON – Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said Thursday that running for U.S. Senate is "something you have to consider" as Democrats seek a nominee to take on U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) next year.

"Anytime people talk about that, it's something you have to consider," Williams said in a telephone interview. He stressed that he is focused on his job as district attorney, but as he tries to fight crime in the city, he said being a Senator might give him an even greater ability to make an impact by supporting things like early childhood education or after-school programs.

"That would really do a great job with helping us prevent crime," Williams said.

He added, "who wouldn't want to be a U.S. Senator?"

Williams' interest was first reported by National Journal.

His entry would give Democrats an alternative to former Congressman Joe Sestak, who has made clear that he intends to run for a re-match against Toomey after narrowly losing in 2010 amid a Republican wave.

Sestak inspires fiercely mixed reactions among Democrats: some praise the former admiral for his aggressive work ethic, while others chafe at his personality and want another option in a year when Democrats believe they have a great chance to oust Toomey. The 2016 presidential race is expected to provide a major lift to Democrats down the ticket in a state that has gone blue in every recent presidential year.

One Democrat talked up the possibility of an historic ticket with Hillary Clinton running to be the first woman president and Williams seeking to become Pennsylvania's first African-American senator.

Williams, 48, has raised his profile in recent months by taking on fellow Democrats, pursuing corruption cases dropped by Attorney General Kathleen Kane (herself once considered a Toomey rival until she badly stumbled), and this week challenging Gov. Wolf's decision to halt the death penalty.

Williams said he has not spoken with top Democrats about a run, but said, "if the party leaders gave me a call, I'd listen."

He joked that while he and the Philadelphia Democratic chairman, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.), live on the same block, the two have recently discussed the snow and cold – not the senate.

"I love the job that I have now, but I'm of course interested in figuring out other ways that I could maybe help Philadelphia and Pennsylvania," Williams said.

Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro is also considered as a potential candidate and has drawn interest from national Democrats, though it's not clear if he will run. Philadelphia State Sen. Vincent Hughes and former Congressman Chris Carney have both said they would consider running for the Democratic nomination as well.

More to come on this story on and in the Inquirer.

You can follow Tamari on Twitter or email him at