Who is Larry Krasner, Philadelphia's district attorney-elect, and why is his win a big deal?

Democratic nominee Larry Krasner takes the stage after winning the election to be the next Philadelphia District Attorney on Nov. 7, 2017.

Larry Krasner, a 56-year-old progressive Democrat and civil rights lawyer, has now been elected Philadelphia’s next district attorney thanks to a sizaeble victory in Tuesday’s general election.

Krasner, who hails from St. Louis and graduated from Stanford Law School, will take over the office held until earlier this year by Seth Williams, who is now serving a five-year prison sentence following a corruption scandal.

Until his election, Krasner often stood in opposition to the Philadelphia Police Department, with which the District Attorney’s Office works most closely.

He has sued the Police Department 75 times, according to the New York Times. In his first campaign video, released in May, Krasner was identified as the attorney for “Black Lives Matter” where he also called “policing and prosecution systemically racist.”

Bottom line — he’s different, and many people are excited, evident by his big win. With 98 percent of the precincts reporting, Krasner gained a whopping 78 percent of the total vote against Republican candidate Beth Grossman, according to the city’s official election results.

Who is Larry Krasner?

Krasner ran for district attorney after working as a public defender focusing in civil rights in Philadelphia for three decades. He doesn’t have any prosecutorial experience, and ran a campaign that greatly opposed the death penalty and mass incarceration.

He’s looking to end stop-and-frisk as well as civil asset forfeiture abuse and is very publicly opposed to President Trump, too.

Why is his win as Philadelphia’s district attorney a big deal?

Krasner joins a slew of other reform-first, progressive candidates who celebrated big wins on Tuesday, including Danica Roem, who will become Virginia’s first openly transgender elected official, and Chris Hurst, a former TV anchor from the Main Line whose girlfriend was shot and killed on air two years ago. Hurst defeated an incumbent Republican supported by the National Rifle Association in a Virginia legislative race.

Krasner will bring his anti-death penalty stance into Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office just eight years after Lynne Abraham — once nicknamed the “Queen of Death,” according to the Guardian, for her use of capital punishment — served in the position.

The district attorney-elect also had the support of former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders who called Krasner’s primary victory for the Democratic nomination last spring an “important step forward,” the Huffington Post reported.

“At a time when Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions is pushing the Department of Justice to restart the failed ‘War on Drugs,’ it is refreshing to see voters choose a prosecutor who wants to treat addiction as an illness, not a crime, and move to end mass incarceration,” Sanders said, according to the publication. “Krasner’s primary victory is an important step forward in the fight to reform a very broken criminal justice system.”

Kranser’s also not afraid to bring BLM activists with him on stage or to cover the Clash while up there, either.

What role did George Soros have in Krasner’s victory?

Soros, a billionaire investor known for supporting liberal causes, pumped $1.45 million into an independent political action committee called Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety, which supported Krasner.

The money was largely used for TV commercials, campaign materials, online ads and more.

Krasner previously told the Inquirer that the money doesn’t mean he’s beholden to the billionaire.

“I don’t have to pick up the phone for anyone,” Krasner said in May. “It’s no disrespect to Mr. Soros, whom I have never met, or his organization, but the bottom line is I have held these views for a long time.”

What might be some of his challenges?

His relationship with Philadelphia’s Police Department is already rocky and he has what columnist Mike Newall describes as an “abrasive” personality.

“I see no problem,” Krasner told Newall in a story published late Tuesday.

Krasner’s nomination received push-back from the police union, which later supported Grossman.

After Krasner’s supporters chanted “no good cops in a racist system” during his primary victory party in May, John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, called them “the parasites of the city.”

Krasner and McNesby later met in May to “clear up misconceptions,” but it did little to stifle the union’s opposition.

Then in June, McNesby called BLM protesters who held a demonstration outside of the home of an officer involved in a fatal shooting in June “a pack of rabid animals.” The protest was led by activist Asa Khalif, who has good relationship with Krasner.

 

When will Krasner take office?

Kelley Hodge, who was selected to serve as the interim district attorney by the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Board of Judges after Williams’ conviction in federal court in July, will finish out the former DA’s term. Krasner will assume office in January.

 

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