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May 17, 2017

Progressive defense attorney wins key primary and now seems poised to become Philadelphia District Attorney

As reported in this local article, a notable and unlikely figure won a Democratic primary and seems poised now to become the most remarkable of modern big city prosecutors.  Here are the basics:

Larry Krasner was the unlikeliest of candidates for district attorney in Philadelphia. That turned out to be just the ticket for victory in the unlikeliest of Democratic primary elections Tuesday.

Progressive voters demanded reform for an office currently held by a man under federal indictment. And the local race was nationalized by a growing sense of resistance among many Democrats in the city to President Trump’s every move.

Krasner, 56, easily defeated six other contenders Tuesday, in a campaign that went from low-key to high-profile last month with a $1.45 million investment from billionaire George Soros in a pro-Krasner independent political action committee. With nearly 98 percent of the vote tallied Tuesday night, Krasner held nearly an 18-point lead on his closest Democratic rival. Krasner will face in the Nov. 7 general election Beth Grossman, the lone Republican in her party’s primary Tuesday.

Krasner, a defense attorney for three decades best known for taking on civil rights cases for Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philadelphia members, AIDS activists and protesters arrested at political conventions, has never served a day in his career as a prosecutor. That became his pitch -- that he was more likely to reform the District Attorney’s Office because he had no ties to the institution, unlike most of the other Democrats in the race.

That message appealed to several hundred people who filled the John C. Anderson Apartments community room and an outdoor courtyard in Center City on Tuesday night for Krasner’s victory party. It got a little rowdy as the results rolled in. Chants of "No good cops in a racist system" and against the Fraternal Order of Police were quickly shut down by Krasner campaign staffers.

Krasner, who lives in West Mount Airy, told the crowd they shared a vision of “a criminal justice system that makes things better, that is just, that is based on preventing crime and is based on building up society rather than tearing it apart." And he reached out to the office he hopes to lead. "To the good people of the District Attorney's Office, I want you to know, you could have made more doing something else, but you became district attorneys because you wanted justice,” he said. “You know what I want? I want what you want. I want justice."

Krasner had a remarkable impact on the primary, pulling the field to the left, leading that movement with a pledge to stop seeking death-penalty sentences if elected. He joked Tuesday night that his position on capital punishment had been described as “political suicide.” As he ended his speech, the crowd launched into a booming chant of "This is what democracy looks like."

Krasner’s primary victory is certain to set off rumblings of uncertainty in the District Attorney’s Office. He has described it as “a place with a mad zeal for the highest charge, for the highest level of conviction, a culture that can find no flaw in police misconduct, that is drunk on the death penalty.” Krasner has also sued law enforcement agencies or the government more than 75 times.

His rise prompted a group of two dozen former District Attorney’s Office employees to endorse former city and federal prosecutor Joe Khan on Friday. Khan finished second in the race, followed by former city Managing Director Rich Negrin, former First Assistant District Attorney Tariq El-Shabazz, former city and state prosecutor Michael Untermeyer, former assistant district attorney Jack O’Neill, and former Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni.

Krasner, the son of a crime-fiction author and an evangelical Christian minister, grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Stanford Law School, starting his career as a federal public defender before launching his own firm in 1993. He is married to Common Pleas Court Judge Lisa M. Rau.

Krasner’s victory was fueled by biographical television commercials paid for with Soros’ cash. That helped him far outpace Untermeyer, who invested $1.3 million of his own money in the race, and Khan, who outperformed all the other candidates in fund-raising from individual donors.

May 17, 2017 at 06:04 AM | Permalink


I believe in the Laughable Law of Political Opposites. If you want to go after criminals, elect a hot headed, anti-police, pro-criminal, Soros funded, extremist, defense attorney.

There is also a Twilight Zone thing going here. A lawyer who made every involuntary commitment hearing a Trial of the Century, traveled 5000 miles to Israel to teach their lawyers her methods. She was stabbed on a bus, not by an Arab terrorist, but by an Arab paranoid schizophrenic, likely set free by her Israeli equivalent. She then died a few days later. Interviewed in her ICU bed in Israel, she still defended the rights of the attacker. I asked her friends at dinner, about her deal. She really thought she was defending the constitution. So, she died for a good cause, at the hand of a client. I expect another such irony with this guy.

Posted by: David Behar | May 17, 2017 8:56:23 AM

We all commit three federal crimes a day, especially if productive. So, a predicate crime should be found or concocted, and the assets of George Soros should be seized in civil forfeiture.

Posted by: David Behar | May 17, 2017 9:34:27 AM

The voters of Philadelphia will pay a high price for their political correctness.

I gave a speech at a wedding. I proposed to build a wall on City Live Avenue, dividing Philadelphia from a suburb, and to make Philadelphia pay for it. It would keep those Yuppie undesirables from streaming over into the areas of decent folks, and making those areas unrecognizable to the old timers. My speech got booed by a bunch of Yuppie scum.

As crime soars under Krasner, they will be trying to escape like rats off a sinking ship.

Posted by: David Behar | May 18, 2017 4:19:08 PM

Bill grew up in those Philadelphia suburbs. I would propose his name as City Line Avenue Wall czar. I did not say that in my speech. I did not want to get killed.

Posted by: David Behar | May 18, 2017 4:23:00 PM

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