Berniecrats and Black Lives Matter Just Made History in Philadelphia

Voters in Philadelphia elected progressive and outsider candidate Larry Krasner, a civil rights lawyer, to the position of District Attorney on Tuesday, making him the first “reform-minded” top city prosecutor in a major U.S. city.

Krasner, who has never served as a prosecutor, has a history of representing activists in the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements in court. As a defense attorney, he sued the Philadelphia Police Department numerous times. In other words, Krasner’s pedigree consists of sparring with and trying to reform the office he has now won — which garnered him plenty of grassroots support.

Krasner, a Democrat, defeated Republican Beth Grossman in a landslide. After just under a half of the precincts had reported results, Krasner had Grossman beat by a margin of around 71 percent to 29 percent.

His victory was celebrated by progressives nationwide.

Krasner ran on a platform of ending mass incarceration and ending a “culture of seeking victory for prosecutors” in favor of a “culture of seeking justice for victims.” He promised never to pursue the death penalty in any case while in office, reform the city’s controversial cash bail program and end illegal stop-and-frisk policies.

Needless to say, the conservative Philadelphia police union was staunchly opposed to Krasner, but he picked up endorsements from a wide range of labor, civic, political and progressive groups in the city. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper joined the police union in endorsing Grossman, who ran as a moderate. Overall, Philadelphia is solidly blue — though perhaps a tad more mainstream than Krasner — as the city overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Kranser’s election is a direct rebuke of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempts to reestablish harsh mandatory minimum sentences and a culture of mass incarceration.

Krasner’s victory was a boon for Democrats in city and state positions around the country — especially in Virginia and New Jersey, where Democrats swept the statewide races — in what is being considered a referendum on the Trump administration and the GOP ahead of the 2018 midterms.