In a victory for progressives and those pushing for criminal justice reform, Democrats in Philadelphia on Tuesday chose District Attorney Larry Krasner, catapulting him toward a second four-year term.
Carlos Vega, Krasner’s opponent in the Democratic primary, garnered just 35% of the vote, to the incumbent’s 65%, according to preliminary results from the City Commissioners Office, last updated Wednesday at around noon.
Krasner pulled out to a significant lead Tuesday night, and he will be the overwhelming favorite in November against the GOP nominee, attorney Charles Peruto Jr.
“Four years ago, Larry made Philadelphia a promise: he would end decades of mass incarceration and change the way justice was done, move away from the policies that devastated Black and brown communities, hold police accountable, and have an office that was fair and treated people with dignity,” Krasner’s campaign said in a statement Wednesday.
“He kept that promise, and last night, the voters of Philadelphia said loudly and clearly that they wanted to keep moving forward, and not go back,” it continued.
On Twitter, Krasner said he will “spend the next four years fighting for people, for prevention, and for a justice system we can all be proud of.”
Vega, a former homicide prosecutor who spent 35 years in the DA’s Office, took to social media to thank his supporters, “most especially the victims of crime who bravely stood up when the establishment, the celebrities and the media decided they wouldn’t listen.”
His backers included the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, which has frequently clashed with Krasner, and former Gov. Ed Rendell.
Tuesday’s primary was widely seen as a referendum on Krasner’s reform agenda, as some wondered whether rising homicide and shooting rates would hurt the sitting DA.
“The people have spoken,” tweeted Councilwoman Helen Gym, one of Philadelphia’s most visible progressive leaders. “They have chosen another four years of public safety and justice that rejects the racist lock ‘em up mentality of the past.”
In a statement, Gym and a cadre of liberal allies, including fellow Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks and Isaiah Thomas, called for an end to cash bail, shorter probation sentences and accountability for corrupt police officers.
“We have proven that our movement is a political force to be reckoned with and is here to stay,” said the group, which also included state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler and Chris Rabb and state Sen. Nikil Saval.
Krasner’s win, they added, was a victory for those who demonstrated against “the state-sanctioned murder of Black people in America, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Walter Wallace Jr.”
About 18% of the electorate, or 187,370 registered voters, cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary, including more than 34,000 who voted by mail, according to preliminary data from the City Commissioners.
Turnout was highest in Chestnut Hill’s 9th ward, where about a third of registered voters came out, and the 22nd Ward in West Mount Airy, where 30% of voters cast ballots. Krasner had a significant edge in both areas.
Much of Northeast Philadelphia, deep South Philadelphia and sections of Kensington and the River Wards sided with Vega, while the rest of the city favored Krasner.
Vega received close to 80% of the vote in wards 59 and 66 in the Far Northeast and Ward 45, which covers Port Richmond and Bridesburg.
Krasner pulled in 90% of the vote in some sections of West Philadelphia and blew away Vega in many of the Northwest Philadelphia wards.
Pennsylvania voters approved a pair of referendums curtailing the governor’s emergency powers, though a majority of Philadelphians voted ‘no’ on the measures.
As a result of the election, the Republican-controlled state legislature can terminate an emergency declaration without the signature of Gov. Tom Wolf, who, in the future, would also need lawmakers help to extend an emergency period past 21 days.
The questions were a response to Wolf’s actions to mitigate spread of the novel coronavirus.
Nearly 54% of the state’s electorate voted to transfer the authority to the legislators; however, in Philadelphia, close to 70% of people cast their ballots against the proposals.
Three other questions, including a local measure to expand the city’s Board of License and Inspection Review from six to nine members, passed overwhelmingly.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Kevin Brobson had a significant lead in the Republican race for the state Supreme Court.
In the contested Democratic primary for Superior Court judge, the Associated Press has called the race for Timika Lane, who won about 48% of the statewide vote, preliminary results indicate. Jill Beck garnered about 40%.
Three Democrats — David Lee Spurgeon, Lori A. Dumas and Amanda Green Hawkins — remained locked in a battle for two nominations for seats on the Commonwealth Court.
The Court of Common Pleas primary, on the Democratic side, is also close, with 16 candidates vying for eight positions. Nick Kamau, Wendi Barish and Cateria McCabe appeared to be the top vote-getters.
In the Democratic race for Municipal Court judge, Michael C. Lambert, Greg Yorgey-Girdy and George Twardy seemed to have secured the nominations.