A week after the sole Republican candidate for attorney general dropped out of the race, a new contender has filed.
Bernard Pepukayi, 45, of Middletown, officially announced his campaign for attorney general Aug. 20.
The newcomer is an attorney with offices in Wilmington and Dover, and his experience includes working as an attorney for the House of Representatives, New Castle County, Family Court and for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. From 2000-04, he was a deputy attorney general under then-Attorney General Jane Brady.
A Democrat until switching parties Aug. 20, Pepukayi said he decided to run out of dissatisfaction with the candidates on the Democratic side. After listening to the candidates at a recent panel discussion, he said, all the candidates supported a business-as-usual platform for the office.
“I didn't think the system would be served under any of them,” he said. “It is not just about criminal prosecution and more about justice.”
As a teenager growing up in Wilmington, Pepukayi had his share of trouble, culminating in a drug arrest days after he turned 18. He was tried and convicted as an adult felon and expelled from high school. But instead of giving up, he stayed on course, earning a high school diploma from James H. Groves Adult High School and graduating magna cum laude from Clark Atlanta University. He earned a law degree from University of Iowa and completed the senior executive in state and local government program at Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
In 1998, he was given a full pardon for his drug offense, and he was admitted to the Delaware bar in 1999.
Michael Harrington Sr., chairman for Delaware's GOP, said he was floored when previous candidate Peggy Marshall abruptly announced she was leaving the race Aug. 13, but Pepukayi is an outstanding candidate.
“I put out a notice across the state about the vacancy and by Friday I heard about Bernard and reached out to him,” Harrington said. “I am impressed most by his story of turning his life around and making a name for himself.”
Now officially a candidate, Pepukayi said he is ready to give it his all. “I wasn't intending on running, but it makes sense,” he said. “I'm more concerned with purpose not politics.”