When Larry Krasner sprung an upset in the Democratic primary for Philadelphia District Attorney, the newcomer to elected office had a lot of time to mull how he would take over an office with 600 employees.
Krasner was virtually assured he’d become the city’s top prosecutor in January, with Democrats holding a nearly 8-to-1 advantage over Republicans in registered voters in the city. Thanks to those overwhelming numbers, he easily defeated Republican candidate Beth Grossman on Nov. 7.
Turns out that Krasner didn’t sit around between the primary in May and the general election.
He traveled across the country to meet with some of America’s big-city prosecutors to learn what the job entails.
Among the cities he visited are San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and New York City, his spokesman Ben Waxman said.
Krasner, in private practice for decades, wanted to learn from those prosecutors about what it’s like to run a large law enforcement agency, Waxman said.
“He went where there are other progressive-minded prosecutors to talk to them about getting their sense of running the office,” Waxman said.
In Philadelphia, the longtime civil rights and defense attorney will oversee hundreds of assistant prosecutors he formerly wrangled with in court. His reformer platform also has led to some speculation that he will face opposition within the ranks of the assistant district attorneys.
Complicating matters further, he will need to buoy the morale of an office still recovering from the conviction of the last elected DA, Seth Williams, who was sentenced to five years in prison in October for corruption.
Krasner’s campaign in the tough Democratic primary was aided, in part, by a political action committee funded by billionaire liberal George Soros. More than $1 million poured into the race from the Soros PAC, giving Krasner a huge advertising edge on his four opponents in the final weeks. It also put the Philadelphia District Attorney’s race on the national political map.
On the day of the general election, The Atlantic profiled Krasner. The magazine described his success as a reformer in Philadelphia — long an establishment Democratic stronghold — as “a potential bellwether among political organizers, analysts, and pundits trying to gauge voter appetite for progressive candidates in the era of President Trump.”
Waxman described Krasner’s trips around the country as a way to connect to other law enforcement officials with similar agendas.
The platform that led to Krasner’s label as a reformer and progressive begins with his long career in private practice arguing in defense of protesters' civil rights and alleged murderers alike. He has promised never to seek the death penalty and to fight for sentencing reforms to lower the number of prisoners in city jails and prisons.
“There is a growing movement of progressive prosecutors all over the country and a movement for criminal justice reform,” Waxman said. “He wanted to connect with his contemporaries.”
Krasner, he said, was “doing his homework.”