DA Larry Krasner, Chuck Peruto enter final countdown to Election Day 2021
The incumbent has been largely absent from campaigning, while the Democrat-turned-Republican challenger is fighting for a major shock.
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After dispatching Democratic challenger Carlos Vega with relative ease in the May 2021 District Attorney primary election, incumbent DA Larry Krasner has put minimal effort into his general election showdown with Republican candidate Chuck Peruto.
Against Vega, Krasner sparred in a TV debate that almost ended in fisticuffs as the former said he was in the latter’s head with constant attacks on his prosecution record and the city’s current gun violence epidemic.
Peruto, a former Democrat and defense attorney, is using very much the same approach as Vega in focusing heavily on the issue of public safety.
It’s not all just hot air. Krasner has faced the brunt of the criticism from both the general public and police department for the stark rise in gun violence, which is still on pace to be the highest it’s been in the city in decades.
Many of the critiques leveled against Krasner’s office have regarded lax punishments on gun arrests and other related crimes that could lead to gun violence.
Krasner has denied the poor record on punishments for illegal gun possessions and pointed to other economic factors (like poverty and disinvestment) and extraneous circumstances (like the COVID-19 pandemic) for why it’s been so bad.
Philadelphia is also not alone in its rise in gun violence, as there was a nationwide uptick in 2020.
Still, to help in the fight, Krasner’s office recently announced a four-group partnership to specifically target gun violence in West and Southwest Philly.
“Philadelphia has been noted to work in silos,” said Rev. Myra Maxwell, director of the DA’s C.A.R.E.S unit, dedicated to providing support for gun violence victims and their families.
That same message was communicated when Krasner spoke to AL DÍA ahead of his primary against Vega. In addition to the community organizations partnering on the West and Southwest Philly collaboration, Krasner pointed to resistance against reform coming from other Philadelphia government institutions as a roadblock to achieving his sweeping progressive reform.
For Peruto, amid the gun violence crisis, he’s reversed the progressive message of Krasner’s campaign and was quoted calling it “a regress” by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“This is a failed experiment,” he said.
The only problem facing the Republican outside of some public statements that have rubbed voters the wrong way is that he’s running in a town where his new party is severely outnumbered seven-to-one in terms of registered voters.
The last Republican to win the DA’s office was Ronald Castille in the late 80s and early 90s. Philly also almost had a Republican Mayor to kick off the new millennium in Sam Katz, as he came within 8,000 votes of beating John Street in the 1999 mayoral election.