Khan campaigning to be Philly's interim DA

Joe Khan (right) is campaigning to be selected as interim district attorney in Philadelphia, with the support of former Gov. Ed Rendell (left.)

Joe Khan is — all of a sudden — a candidate for District Attorney in Philadelphia again.

Khan, the former city and federal prosecutor who finished second behind defense lawyer Larry Krasner in the May 16 Democratic primary election, is now seeking to be the interim district attorney who finishes the remaining six months of Seth Williams’ second term.

And he has former Gov. Ed Rendell, who served as district attorney from 1978 to 1985 and endorsed Khan in the primary, working the phones in his favor.

Williams resigned from office Thursday, just before pleading guilty to a federal bribery charge, and is now behind bars, awaiting an Oct. 24 sentencing hearing.

The Board of Judges, made up of the city’s 88 Common Pleas judges, will consider applications and then vote to select an interim district attorney.

Khan, who worked for six years as an assistant district attorney and then 10 years as an assistant U.S. attorney, is working his way through the judicial directory, calling judges to seek their support.

Rendell said he is also campaigning for Khan with “a few judges who are friends of mine.”

He previously floated the idea of Krasner, who never worked as a prosecutor, bringing in Khan as his first deputy if Krasner wins the Nov. 7 general election. Rendell said Khan was also open to serving as Krasner’s top aide.

Khan as interim district attorney could help Krasner “get a jump start” on restoring order to the office, Rendell said.

After 22 months of federal subpoenas and news stories about Williams’ legal woes, many on the District Attorney’s staff are scandal-weary, demoralized, and leery about a potential new boss who has never worked as a prosecutor.

There is plenty of talk about people looking for new jobs.

“It would have a perfect symmetry,” Rendell said of Khan serving as interim district attorney and then first deputy. “He would stabilize losing some of those veteran prosecutors.”

Khan said he would be happy to “right the ship” as interim district attorney but calls any post-election staff decisions the “prerogative” of the winning candidate.

“I would be more than happy to be a bridge between the Williams and Krasner administrations in a time of crisis,” Khan said.

The Krasner camp has not exactly embraced Rendell’s idea about Khan as first deputy.

“The only response I got from the Krasner people is he isn’t going to be making those decisions until after the election,” Rendell said.

Republican nominee Beth Grossman, who worked as an assistant district attorney for 21 years, has said the one-party rule of Democrats in Philadelphia needs a little GOP oversight to crack down on corruption. But the Democrats hold that one-party rule because they outnumber Republicans 7-1 in Philadelphia.

So Grossman faces long odds.

It’s considered bad form to look past an election, to start planning for titles and seating charts and sizing up the office drapes before the ballots are counted.

The Krasner camp knows that.

Ben Waxman, a Krasner spokesman, says the focus now is strictly on the general election.

“That’s the conversation we’re having with everybody who has approached Krasner about serving in the administration,” Waxman said. “There’s a uniform policy that says we’re not going to have those conversations until after November.”

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