BY MAX MARIN – PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY
On Wednesday, Philadelphia’s police union and other local law enforcement advocacy groups delivered a glowing endorsement of Democratic district attorney candidate Richard Negrín – the most high-profile yet given in the hotly contested race.
The FOP endorsement carries as much significance for what the organization can do to officials it doesn’t support as for those it does: In January, prior to incumbent DA Seth Williams’ announcement that he would not seek re-election, FOP Lodge 5 president John McNesby purchased a billboard along I-95 that read: “Help Wanted, New Philadelphia District Attorney.”
“With Rich Negrín, the search is over,” McNesby said in a statement Wednesday.
Two of Negrín’s opponents in the May Democratic primary – Republican candidate Beth Grossman is running unopposed – responded with strong words for both McNesby and Negrín.
“The FOP endorsed Donald Trump, so of course they endorsed Rich Negrín. As they say on Sesame Street, two of these things belong together,” said Lawrence Krasner, a civil rights attorney who touts himself as the most progressive DA candidate among the seven contenders. “[Negrín] has two characteristics that belong to John McNesby, though not necessarily to the FOP membership. One, he’s authoritarian … two, he’s no reformer in a city that badly needs reform.”
Krasner’s criticism stems in part from Negrín’s handling of the 2011 Occupy Philly protests. Negrín, then the managing director under former Mayor Michael Nutter, caught backlash over the arrests of peaceful protestors, some of whom Krasner eventually defended. Negrín maintains that “anti-protester” allegations against him were spread by “extreme” activists.