Progressive: The label of choice in race for new Philly DA role


With two months until the primary election, seven Democrats on the ballot, and no clear frontrunner in the District Attorney’s race, Larry Krasner doesn’t have time for a lengthy stump speech, nor does he have time to pretend that this isn’t him against the world.

“I’m the most progressive candidate. No one disputes that,” Krasner told a mixed-age crowd of 15 at East Kensington’s hipster-friendly Martha Bar last week. “In fact, they all run away from my progressive ways.”

The 45-minute meet-and-greet sounded like a Bernie Sanders remix of The Wire and The New Jim Crow, in which Krasner peppered his stories of judicial injustice with takeaway lines like “this whole notion that safety and freedom are alternatives is bullshit."

Krasner touts his credentials as a public defender and civil rights attorney who has taken on police unions and defended Black Lives Matter (and Occupy Philly) activists in court. His platform includes promises to stop the death penalty, work to end mass incarceration and protect First Amendment rights, to name a few.

But as Philadelphia Magazine recently noted, the packed primary race has taken an unexpected shift to the left. Each Democratic candidate has at least a few policies that could be considered reform — even if it’s a commitment to not accept gifts, which caused the latest scandal in current DA Seth Williams’ tenure.

At Martha, Krasner noted that all the candidates “want to call themselves progressives” now, so much that the label often serves as a sound bite rather than a policy position.