The Democratic primary for district attorney in Philadelphia has been over for two months. But DA Larry Krasner and the losing challenger Carlos Vega are still fighting it out.
Vega in May sued Krasner’s campaign, criminal justice activist Shaun King, and Real Justice PAC, a group cofounded by King that supported Krasner’s bid for a second term. Krasner’s camp and Real Justice, in court filings this month, asked a judge to toss that case.
Krasner’s campaign said Vega launched his lawsuit “four days before the primary election as a campaign statement in an attempt to gain political advantage and sway public opinion before the election.”
If that’s the case, it didn’t play that way. Krasner defeated Vega by a 2-1 ratio.
Krasner’s response and Vega’s lawsuit both read like political platforms recast as legal barrages.
Vega was an assistant district attorney for 35 years, mostly in the homicide unit, until Krasner took office in 2018 and fired him and 30 other prosecutors.
Krasner’s response accuses Vega 15 times in 47 pages of operating with a “win at any cost” approach to prosecutions. The campaign also dunks on Vega’s lawsuit claim that the primary was “uncomfortably close” for Krasner, noting he “easily defeated Mr. Vega.”
» READ MORE: How Philly DA Larry Krasner won — and won big
Vega accused Krasner’s campaign, King, and Real Justice PAC of conspiring to hit him with “maliciously false and misleading rhetoric.”
Vega was incensed that Krasner pounded away at his role in retrying Anthony Wright, who was cleared by DNA evidence and found not guilty in 2016 after a 1991 conviction for rape and murder. Wright, who won a nearly $10 million settlement from the city, campaigned for Krasner.
Krasner’s campaign, King, and Real Justice PAC said their knocks on Vega are constitutionally protected free speech.
Vega attorney Louis Tumolo responded this week by blaming Krasner for increases in homicides and gun crimes — a phenomenon happening in big cities across the country.
“He has no room to criticize a real prosecutor and trial lawyer, particularly when his ‘criticism’ is just more of his and his co-defendant’s knowing falsehoods,” Tumolo wrote in an email.
Krasner faces defense attorney Chuck Peruto in the Nov. 3 general election.
2022 election spending will equal 2020
The 2020 election cycle was the most expensive in history, with $9 billion spent nationwide for campaign commercials, according to AdImpact, an advertising-tracking firm now predicting the 2022 midterm elections will hit the same mark — even without a presidential election on the ballot.
Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat will play a big role in that. An AdImpact report this week predicted that Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and California will make up a combined one-third of the spending. Pennsylvania accounts for $538 million of that.
The race to replace Sen. Pat Toomey, a Lehigh Valley Republican not seeking a third term, will prompt an anticipated $228 million in spending, second only to the Senate race in Georgia. Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race, also for an open seat, racks up $142 million.
John Link, an AdImpact vice president, called Pennsylvania “a perfect storm” for spending.
“You have an open Senate seat, you have a razor-thin margin within the Senate, you have a politically charged atmosphere,” he said, adding that fund-raising is easier with the advent of digital platforms like ActBlue for Democrats and WinRed for Republicans.
Broadcast television is still the most expensive advertising platform, but connected TV commercials, known as CTV, are projected to outpace spending on cable television and digital platforms. CTV ads stream to smart televisions with identifiable IP addresses, making them more targetable and trackable.
Link said the rise of CTV is “driving the predictive growth” in his firm’s report.
PA GOP: Josh Shapiro called us racists
The Pennsylvania Republican Party issued a fund-raising plea Monday with a claim that state Attorney General Josh Shapiro had slandered “all Republicans as hateful, lying racists.”
Nobody from the Republican Party, from chair Lawrence Tabas down to the communications staff, wanted to talk about that claim this week. Maybe they fired off the email and then went on vacation?
Clout bets the email is based on a July 7 GOP Facebook post, which used the same language to complain about a July 6 tweet from Shapiro, which denounced a July 3 march in Philadelphia by the white supremacist group Patriot Front.
“There is a direct line from the Big Lie, to the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, to these violent white supremacists on the streets of Philadelphia,” Shapiro tweeted. “The GOP owns this. It’s time for all of them to denounce it. In the face of their hate, it’s up to us to speak truth.”
» READ MORE: Bill McSwain lands a clean jab against Josh Shapiro
The Republican Party, noting Shapiro is a likely candidate for governor next year, accused him and other Democratic leaders of “always pouring gasoline on one half of America and provoking the other half to throw the match.”
Tired: Gaslighting. Wired: Gasoline immolation analogies.
“Isn’t it time for the Pennsylvania Republican Party to stop making absurd, unfounded claims and start speaking out to condemn the big lie and conspiracy theories that fuel hate groups like this?” Simons said.
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.