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Philly DA Larry Krasner and challenger Carlos Vega make final push before Democratic primary

Krasner rallied with progressives and pumped up campaign volunteers ahead of Tuesday’s election, while Vega gave notably apolitical remarks at an anti-violence rally.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, left, and criminal justice activist Shaun King at Mallery Playground in East Germantown on Saturday.. ... Read more KRISTON JAE BETHEL
by Chris Brennan and Sean Collins Walsh
May 15, 2021

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner rallied Saturday with progressive members of City Council and pumped up campaign volunteers ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Meanwhile, his Democratic primary opponent, longtime prosecutor Carlos Vega, appeared at an antiviolence rally where speakers decried soaring gun violence in the city.

Their appearances were part of a last push by both candidates in the final weekend of the contest.

Krasner touted his efforts to reform the prosecutor’s office while speaking to a crowd of about 30 volunteers at an East Germantown playground, an area of the city he won big four years ago.


“We’re going to be out canvassing through election day to make sure that places like this — which are rich with votes, which are rich with people who agree with us and who want this kind of change — turn out,” he said. “As long as they turn out, we’re winning.”

» READ MORE: Philly elected Larry Krasner district attorney to reform the system. Here’s what he did.

Krasner was joined by Shaun King, a criminal justice activist, and Anthony Wright, who was exonerated in a 2016 retrial of his 1991 conviction for rape and murder. Vega, a city prosecutor for 35 years before Krasner fired him in 2018, worked on Wright’s retrial. Wright, who won a $10 million settlement from the city, on Saturday called Vega part of the “old regime” that lacked accountability.

“We can’t go back to that,” Wright said. “Every vote counts. It’s all on us.”


King was greeted at the event by a process server, handing him notice that Vega had formally sued him, his political group, and Krasner’s campaign. Vega has accused Krasner and King of using “maliciously false and misleading rhetoric” when they discuss his involvement in Wright’s case. Vega also taunted Wright on Twitter on Wednesday, calling him a “serial grifter.”

“I say this rarely,” King responded Saturday. “I see Carlos Vega as an evil person.”

Carlos Vega, right, talks to Terry Jenkins during an anti-violence rally in the Mill Creek neighborhood of West Philadelphia on Saturday.. ... Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

Vega, who has campaigned on continuing reforms while improving public safety, delivered remarks that were notably apolitical for an event three days before an election. Appearing at an antiviolence rally in the Mill Creek neighborhood of West Philadelphia, he did not mention that he was running for district attorney or ask the crowd to vote for him. Instead, he discussed motherhood and the loss of traditional values in society.

“There’s a reason why they call it Mother Nature. Because you bring life into the world,” Vega said, noting that mothers often make up most of the crowd at antiviolence rallies. “I’ve seen some mothers who are still waiting for some justice, which is ‘They never found the killer of my son.’”


Krasner is aiming to repeat his 2017 victory with a coalition of progressives and Black voters. Vega hopes to win with largely white, police-friendly voters in Northeast Philadelphia and the Delaware River wards, bolstered by some Latino voters from neighborhoods with lower turnout.

In heavily Democratic Philadelphia, Tuesday’s winner is all but certain to win the November general election. Krasner is seen as the favorite to win the primary, but political watchers credit Vega with making it a competitive race.

» READ MORE: Carlos Vega’s campaign to be Philly DA started in his mom’s bodega

Volunteers gave out food and helped people register to vote at the antiviolence rally, organized in part by the group We Embrace Fatherhood, as Vega and other speakers decried the shootings that have devastated West Philadelphia over the last year. The plague of violence in Philadelphia and the country, Vega said, cannot be fixed without a cultural shift.


“We need a sense of God, a sense of respect, a sense of respect for your elders,” he said. “You need a sense of God so that in your darkest hours, you can say, ‘Jesus, God, what am I going to do?’ And he may not answer you, but suddenly you’ve got that release from your heart, and you think, ‘Tomorrow’s going to be another day. Maybe I can survive that.’”

Krasner later rallied with the progressive group Reclaim Philadelphia at a playground in South Philadelphia, another area that helped power his 2017 victory.

A trio of City Council members — Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks, and Helen Gym — told the crowd that Vega and his supporters in the police union represent a return to the past.

Vega “represents a time when our DA’s Office took a win-at-all-costs approach that got us one of the highest mass incarceration rates in the entire country,” Gauthier said.

May 15, 2021
I write about politics at the federal, state, and local level. I also lead Clout, an often irreverent column on people, power, and politics.
I report from the City Hall bureau, covering the mayor and City Council and searching for stories on the machinations and hijinks of Philly politics.