Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Real Losers In The D.A.'s Race: Brady, Rendell And The Dems

By A. Benjamin Mannes

The heated 2021 primary election between Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and former Chief Homicide Prosecutor Carlos Vega ended with Krasner winning the Democratic primary by a 65% to 35% margin. 

While Krasner touted his victory as a stamp of approval for his radical social justice agenda which has limited cash bail and charging for a myriad of crimes, the extremely poor voter turnout shows that real loser of the election was not Vega, but former Gov. Ed Rendell and Democratic party chairman Bob Brady. This paints a dire picture for the Democratic power base that has controlled the city for the last 69 years. 

“We hear all this talk about how somehow progressive prosecution can’t survive,” Krasner said in his victory speech Tuesday night. “That’s not what I see. What I see is that traditional prosecution can’t survive.”

Krasner’s victory came amid an election with an anemic voter turnout of 17.91%, which was lower than normal for the traditionally low voter turnouts seen in municipal-only elections. 

In comparing Krasner’s 2021 votes to those he received four years ago, the incumbent D.A.’s strategy of investing “street money” to get out the vote in African American strongholds like West Philadelphia paired with Krasner’s devout cadre of young, white, progressive voters held true. 

Meanwhile, despite a strong endorsement for Vega by former Governor Ed Rendell and an unprecedented non-endorsement of the incumbent in the race by Democratic City Committee chairman Brady, the low turnout speaks volumes as to a shift in Philadelphia’s political power base. 

“I’ve been extremely reluctant to criticize any of my successors,” Rendell said during a news conference on May 11th. Referring to the city’s unprecedented rise in violent crime, Rendell said: “You must as a city do something about it. If you don’t act, it will destroy the city.”

Ed Rendell is seen as one of the most powerful figures in Democratic politics, not just in Pennsylvania but nationally as well, having been a surrogate for the Clinton and Biden Presidential campaigns. 

Rendell was the last Philadelphian to ascend to the governorship of Pennsylvania following his service as Philadelphia mayor after two terms as district attorney based on his work through the high crime “crack explosion” period of the early 1990s. 

Last year, Philadelphia’s homicide rate fell just one short of tying the record-setting year of 1990, with 499 murders. And this year, with 211 murders as of yesterday, a 40% increase over 2020, the city is on pace in 2021 to set an all-time record with nearly 700 murders.

In endorsing Vega, Rendell cited the recent unchecked rise of shootings in Philadelphia as “the final straw.” This came one week after the Democratic City Committee, led by former Congressman Brady, declined to endorse either candidate, which was seen as a snub against Krasner. 

However, the failure for the city committee to endorse turned the primary into a battle for campaigns to recruit ward leaders for get-out-the-vote efforts; which usually results in the candidate with the most “street money” to invest wins.

Since Krasner out-funded Vega with the help of large, out-of-state PAC donations, the results of the election spoke for themselves.

The failure for Democratic power brokers like Rendell and Brady to get out the votes from their traditional bases of Catholic, labor union, and over-40-year-old Democrats has implications far outside the Delaware Valley. 

A split between two different factions within the Democratic party is at the center of the party’s attempts to retain their narrow control of Congress and the Senate as well. To retain control over rust-belt states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as the emerging battleground states like Arizona and Georgia, the future of the Democratic party will be defined by who emerges as the victor in the fight between traditional Democrats and the progressive wing of the party.

Democrats running in battleground states like Pennsylvania have traditionally followed a centrist playbook to target independents and Republicans in suburban areas. However, the reelection of Krasner is a sign that the Soros strategy of investing in relatively low-cost, but highly coveted district attorney races in large media markets has proved to be an effective strategy in the furtherance of progressive Democratic policy growth from the cities into the suburbs.

More importantly, Krasner’s win highlights a disturbing split among not just Democratic voters, but the ongoing tribalization of American voters along racial, ethnic, and gender identity lines to gain political capital in the context of breaking down governmental policies and practices in the name of progressivism. 

This also helps to explain Krasner’s campaign talking points which addresses crime based on reductive “racial” lines under the academically disputed narrative of “systemic racism." This strategy has helped Krasner overcome the obvious fact that he is personally a wealthy white male in his 2017 defeat of Beth Grossman, a single woman, and his win this month over Vega, the first Puerto Rican to be promoted to chief in a prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania.

There are also generational, professional, and educational components to the divide; as the “traditional” Democratic voters represented by Brady and Rendell are over 40, from the working to the middle class, and are educated from high school to undergraduate degrees. 

The progressive base representative of Krasner’s most vocal supporters are recent college graduates with technological, educational, or white-collar careers. This coupled with a social and corporate media-supported panic over racial “equity” in the criminal justice system is rapidly replacing job performance and public safety when it comes to determining the outcome in the race for D.A.

This is why Krasner’s challenge from Vega was seen as so formidable, as Vega represented the perspective of a member of the minority community expressing concerns about a deadly increase in violent crime. Throughout the campaign, crime victims and their families had emerged as some of Vega’s most vocal supporters

The victims and their families cited numerous examples of how Krasner and his office have mistreated them as the D.A.'s office released one violent criminal after another to fulfill Krasner's campaign promise to end mass incarceration.

These assertions were met with endorsements by the city’s public safety unions, who have ardently opposed Krasner’s policies since the 2017 district attorney election. The local law enforcement community endorsed Vega as their membership pointed out that Krasner cared more about indicting police officers in the name of reforming systemic racism rather than prosecuting felony suspects in the name of public safety.

The combination of Vega’s background, union backing, party affiliation, and endorsements should have spelled trouble for Krasner and the emerging progressive insurgency within the Philadelphia Democratic party. However, voter turnout shows that, with the absence of traditional support from Local 98 boss John Dougherty, currently under two separate federal indictments, the long-standing power brokers of Philadelphia’s Democratic machine failed to produce even 25% of the city’s votes.

This raises the question to what the majority of the city’s voters will do? While progressives clearly have the best messaging of late, will their policy platforms resonate with the city’s moderate, religious, and pro-labor voters? As the death toll continues to rise on our city’s streets, one wonders how long the city’s voters will stay with the party that kept Krasner in office.


  1. A good synopsis of the overall state of the election and the weakness of a party with aging leadership. I would add the "blind allegiance vote" of individual ward leaders constituents that follow the direction of the ward leader and not just the party line. In addition to the media who purposely avoid facts, studies and evidence that Krasner was not the man for the job and crime is a major factor for the black community the out of town money casts a damp blanket on local control of local issues.

    1. The media is a propaganda organ of the tax avoiding oligarchs, wbo suppress diverse voices, silence opposition, like the billionaire owned Bezos Washington Post, and the Lenfest funded Inquirer.
      Funded by billionaires, they dont need to rely on advertising revenue or circulation.

  2. "...the low turnout speaks volumes as to a shift in Philadelphia’s political power base. "

    The power has shifter to rich, powerful, white billionaires, foreign and domestic, who seek to consolidate power, using their vast, vast tax avoided riches and erosive influence on our political institutions, to foment anarchy, so they can bring about marshal law.
    Billionaires frown on democracies. They want what China has, and will bring it to the United States.

  3. Kudos, for sharing a concise and intelligent view of the Great Dilemma.

    For a Memorial Day, there is Much to Mourn.

    Please follow up with the Remedies to Increase Voter Participation.

    The Phenomena of the Head in the Sand Approach to advancing Participatory Democracy are bearing devastating consequences.

    What New Incentives can be applied to raise a 17% Voter Turnout in a Life and Death Scenario is as troubling as the Dire Statistics regularly reported on this Most Appreciated Platform.

    Jason Brando


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