Huddling to avoid the rain at a Roxborough polling station, Democratic and Republican committeemen hurled last-minute pitches for their parties’ respective judicial candidates at passing voters. But in an unusual show of unity, when asked who should be the next Philadelphia District Attorney, poll workers from both parties named the same candidate: Republican Beth Grossman.
“Krasner’s going to be too lenient,” said one man, referring to former defense attorney and Democratic DA candidate Larry Krasner. “Grossman used to be a prosecutor.”
The man identified himself as a Democratic committeeperson.
“He didn’t put any signs up here,” said his companion, gesturing to numerous Grossman campaign signs around the polling place. “Grossman actually came up here.”
That front-line assessment was made just hours before Krasner swept to victory, winning by a roughly 3 to 1 margin. His acerbic critiques of the city’s police and criminal justice system have garnered him celebrity endorsements and propelled stellar turnout in progressive wards. But he also earned the ire of both the local Fraternal Order of Police – Krasner has sued the Philadelphia Police Department some 75 times – and some voters in Philadelphia’s white working class neighborhoods.
Grossman had hoped to ride that discontent to victory and rumors swirled in the weeks ahead of the election that some Democratic wards were set to turn on Krasner.
Indeed, on Election Day, sections of South and Northwest Philadelphia visited by City&State PA were lightly staffed by Democratic committee people. A few had no visible presence at all. Krasner campaign signs were few and far between in many locations. In a Northeast Philadelphia ward that is also home to many police officers, a voter reported receiving Democratic sample ballots from party officiants that had Krasner’s name blacked out.
It amounted to little in the end. But Louis Agre, who leads Roxborough’s 21st Democratic Ward, acknowledged that there had been noticeable discontent among his rank-and-file. Grossman’s unsurprising endorsement from the FOP had also complicated matters.
“There’s a lot of police and firefighters in our divisions. I can’t fault someone for voting with their union – that’s what I would do,” he said. “Some people have police and firefighters in their family and they think Krasner won’t be a good DA. I know some of my guys said they didn’t want to help him. I said, ‘I understand.’ I can’t force them.”
But Agre, who had backed prosecutor Joe Khan in the May primary, insisted that both he and his ward had done their best to support the party’s slate. In the end, the Democrats’ 7-to-1 voter registration edge and Krasner-friendly turnout in Center City and West Philly carried the day.
Krasner’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the subject.
Asked yesterday if some Democrats had surreptitiously gone to bat for her campaign, Grossman said she’d “heard the same thing,” but offered no specifics. The Associated Press called the campaign for Krasner about 90 minutes after polls closed.