Larry Krasner, a longtime defense attorney, upturned a crowded Democratic primary with the help of Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, who dumped nearly $1.45 million in support of his campaign. Despite the lack of a clear frontrunner heading into Tuesday’s primary for district attorney, the self-described civil rights attorney quickly surged ahead of his opponents.
Krasner, who has a distinctive reputation as a defense lawyer who repped political activists like Occupy Philadelphia, distinguished himself as the strongest opponent of the death penalty and “mass incarceration” in the primary. He ultimately overcame a number of career prosecutors in the race by positioning himself as the candidate who would take on a “systemically racist” DA office.
Along with endorsements (on social media, at least) from national celebrities like actress Susan Sarandon, R&B singer John Legend and journalist Shaun King, Krasner’s profile quickly outpaced his challengers. The national attention, sizable TV ad buys at local stations and strong ward support translated into strong returns at polling stations. Krasner finished with 38 percent of the vote.
The challenge now is for Krasner to govern a potentially hostile office – nearly a dozen former ADAs penned a letter expressing strong criticism for a candidate whom they perceive as being antithetical to the office's purpose.
“I have seen, in essence, a system that has completely run off the rails,” Krasner told the Inquirer last week. “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. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion for 30 years.”