Philly Cops Just Got Crushed at the Ballot Box

District Attorney Larry Krasner is headed for reelection, a humiliating blow to the former and current cops who spent big in an attempt to beat him.
May 19, 2021, 2:17pm
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses the media after a press conference announcing Danielle Outlaw as the new Police Commissioner on December 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses the media after a press conference announcing Danielle Outlaw as the new Police Commissioner on December 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Philadelphia arguably set off a wave of electing progressive prosecutors when the city chose defense attorney Larry Krasner as its district attorney four years ago. 

On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly agreed to send him back for another term, handing a humiliating defeat to Philly’s cop union, disgruntled prosecutors, and conservatives who wanted to bring a “tough on crime” approach back to the DA’s office. 

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Krasner won nearly two-thirds of the Democratic primary vote against challenger Carlos Vega, a former homicide prosecutor. Because Philadelphia is an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Krasner is all but ensured reelection in November. Republican nominee Chuck Peruto, a former Democrat who voted for Krasner in 2017, had promised to drop out if Vega won the primary

“Four years ago we promised reform and a focus on serious crime,” Krasner told a crowd of supporters Tuesday night. “We kept those promises. And this time they put us back in office for what we have done.”

After four years, Krasner’s office has exonerated 20 wrongly convicted people, didn’t seek a death penalty sentence in any of his cases, and mostly stopped prosecuting simple drug possession crimes. He also clashed with former President Donald Trump, who once called him the “worst district attorney.”

But critics including the Philadelphia local of the Fraternal Order of Police, a longtime opponent of Krasner, attempted to blame him for a spike in homicides, even though that surge is part of a national trend. The FOP gave more than $25,000 to Vega’s campaign and a PAC started by former Philly cops and funded by the FOP spent even more on anti-Krasner TV ads

Whereas Krasner won his first election in a crowded field, this time the anti-Krasner vote consolidated around Vega, whom Krasner fired in 2018 after more than three decades as a homicide prosecutor in Philly. “Mr. Krasner, you have blood on your hands,” Vega charged during a debate earlier this month

“I am hopeful that my opponent will take [victims] more seriously during his tenure,” Vega said in a Tuesday tweet after conceding.

Adding insult to injury for the FOP and its allies, eight of the nine judicial nominees endorsed by the progressive group Reclaim Philadelphia won their races

The wave that reelected Krasner also appeared to be replicated on the other side of the state. Voters in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County voted to ban no-knock warrants and prohibit solitary confinement, and progressive state representative Ed Gainey defeated incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto in a Democratic primary upset. Gainey is virtually guaranteed to become the city’s first Black mayor.