State Rep. Tarik Khan’s brother Joe is running for state AG

by Len Lear
Posted 4/11/24

Joe Khan’s campaign announced that it has now raised more than $1 million.

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State Rep. Tarik Khan’s brother Joe is running for state AG


After more than a year on the job, Chestnut Hill’s state Rep. Tarik Khan has been busy – sponsoring and supporting legislation and delivering various grants for his constituents. 

Now his brother Joe Khan, wants to make politics a family business. The former member of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church is running for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania attorney general in the primary election that will take place on April 23. He is one of five candidates who are competing for the job. 

Joe Khan’s campaign announced on Monday that it has now raised more than $1 million, after bringing in over $250,000 since the last campaign finance reporting period ending March 4, 2024. He has received endorsements from more than 50 elected officials and 20 political organizations including Clean Air Action, Emgage Action, the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA), Indian American Impact, Second Generation, and AFSCME Local 1739. the Philadelphia Metal Trades Council, the Bucks County Democratic Committee, and nearly every “open” Democratic ward committee in Philadelphia.

The son of a Muslim engineer who came to America from Pakistan to build bridges, Khan says he also wants to build bridges but not the kind made of steel. “I grew up in Northeast Philly near Greenberg Elementary School,” he told the Local, “because when my parents got together in the '70s, the only place that seemed to fit for a Muslim dad (Zia Khan) and a Catholic mom (Patricia Khan) was in a Jewish neighborhood.”

Khan, 48, a public interest lawyer for half his life, said, “I was lucky enough to attend Central High School with kids from every background and neighborhood of Philadelphia.”

Khan attended Swarthmore College from 1993-97 and the University of Chicago Law School from 1997-2000, where he studied under Professor Barack Obama. “Like me,” Khan said, “Obama had a Muslim immigrant dad, a Christian American mom and a childhood of always feeling different. He helped me understand that having to bridge cultures with everyone I meet wasn’t going to be a handicap for me as a public interest lawyer; it was going to be my superpower.”

Khan's father arrived in the U.S. 60 years ago on his 25th birthday. “He never let me forget how lucky I was to be born in this country and how much I owe to my community and my country,” Khan said. “My mom grew up in West Oak Lane. Her dad died when she was 10, but her mom was able to feed the family because of Social Security. Those are some of the reasons I’m a lifelong Democrat.”

Khan has been a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School since 2015, although he has not been teaching during the campaign. He previously served in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted violent crime from 2000 to 2006. He took on corruption while in the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2006-2016, and as the Bucks County solicitor, Khan defended abortion, environmental and voting rights from 2020 to 2023.

Khan said he thinks Democrats must win the AG’s office this year. 

“Only two Democrats have ever been elected to this office, which requires winning the argument on public safety. I have the strongest prosecutorial record of any candidate, so I’m not going to let the Republicans paint me as a 'soft-on-crime' career politician. 

“Instead,” he continued, “I’ll continue to broaden the coalition of supporters who believe we can do great things together.” 

Khan said his career as a sex crimes and domestic violence prosecutor was inspired by the stories of the women his mother cared for as an emergency room nurse. (Khan's mother worked at Einstein Hospital, where he was born, and Jeanes Hospital. She’s officially retired, but she continues to volunteer for her local Nurse Honor Guard.)

“I’ll never forget the story of a woman who died in Mom’s hospital after a back-alley abortion went horribly wrong,” he recalled. “I was taught at an early age that taking away abortion access threatens women’s lives, and that’s why I’ll continue to fight to protect women’s reproductive rights for all women in Pennsylvania, regardless of whether they live here or are fleeing from other states.”

Khan 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 Philadelphia’s Nina Ahmad, of Mt. Airy. 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.

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