Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner handily defeated a police union-backed Democratic primary challenger on Tuesday, a victory seen as a resounding endorsement of the incumbent prosecutor's criminal justice reform record and popular agenda.
"We in this movement for criminal justice reform just won a big one," Krasner said in his speech declaring victory over Carlos Vega, a former homicide prosecutor and one of dozens of staffers Krasner fired just days after taking over the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office in 2018.
"Four years ago, we promised reform, and a focus on serious crime," said Krasner, whose office stopped prosecuting low-level offenses such as marijuana possession and ended the practice of seeking cash bail for minor transgressions. Krasner's policies have reduced the Philadelphia jail population by an estimated 30%.
"People believed what were, at that point, ideas. Promises. And they voted us into office with a mandate. We kept those promises. They saw what we did. And they put us back in office because of what we've done," said Krasner. "We hear all this talk about how somehow progressive prosecution can't survive. That's not what I see. What I see is that traditional prosecution can't survive."
With 95% of Philadelphia divisions reporting, Krasner leads Vega by nearly 50,000 votes. Krasner's primary victory essentially guarantees his reelection as district attorney, given the absence of a competitive Republican challenger in the Democratic stronghold.
As The Intercept reported Tuesday, Vega "campaigned with Philadelphia's FOP Lodge 5, a local chapter of the Fraternal Order of the Police, the largest police union in the country."
"Krasner's reelection bid came as an increase in gun violence in many U.S. cities--including Philadelphia--and calls to reduce the scope of policing prompted a return to tough-on-crime rhetoric and rebuke of reformist efforts," the outlet noted, adding that "attempts by Vega and his backers in law enforcement to pin gun violence in the city on Krasner didn't resonate with Philadelphians who have interacted with the criminal legal system."
In an interview with The Intercept , Philadelphia City Council Member Kendra Brooks said that "we're talking about the same system that has disinvested into all the things that they needed to be successful, right?"
"And it's also the system that perpetuates this cycle of violence, and crime, and trauma that also puts them in the ground," Brooks added. "And in communities, you can't separate any of that."