Why are so many running for DA?
The crowded race for Philadelphia's District Attorney has been the most watched election for this year’s May primary.
With a staggering seven candidates, it’s a wonder how the race became so crowded, so fast.
And though this race is in stark contrast to the previous election between Seth Williams and Dan Alvarez, the amount of candidates running for district attorney is not totally unprecedented.
The election prior to the most recent one had six candidates total, with a majority democrats and one republican.
The largest prosecutor’s office in the state, the Philadelphia District Attorney position is desired by lawyers throughout the area.
But following the excitement and then disappointment surrounding Seth Williams’ election and then downfall, you would think that only the bravest would apply.
Lawyers and judges with budding careers and a track record of community engagement line up to the plate to become the District Attorney for the city, for the glory, for the title, and for something the city recently learned: for the benefits.
And as Seth Williams’ tenure as District Attorney shows, the job is not without outside perks.
The last race saw Seth Williams against Daniel Alvarez who ran as a republican in 2013, an announcement that was met with encouragement as Williams stated he welcomed “sincere, competent challengers to an incumbent. In any campaign, the incumbent must defend his or her record in office, while the challenger's role is to convince voters they can do a better job,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The election prior to the one against Alvarez took place in 2009 with 6 candidates running after Lynne Abrams tenure, including Seth Williams and current democratic candidate Michael Untermeyer.
Once District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham retired from office, she set the city up for a race they hadn’t seen since 1985: one without an an incumbent on the ballot.
And this election, once again without an incumbent gunning for the seat, yet again has attorneys from all over the city looking to replace their corrupt predecessor with largest ethics fine in the city’s history.
First up to the plate is Richard Negrin.
Known for his position on Cease Fire PA and his work as the city’s managing director, Richard Negrin is not afraid of reducing crime in the city. Highlighting his time on the ethics board and working with the city before, Negrin paints himself as the ideal candidate, especially with his personal experience of gun violence. Negrin is the only Latino to run for the position in this election.
Joseph Khan, who stated he would immediately allocate more funds to combatting sexual violence, domestic violence and human trafficking to Philadelphia Magazine, is yet another candidate on the democratic ticket. Formerly working in the U.S. Attorney’s office, he has extensive experience in the field.
Judge Teresa Carr Deni
A seasoned judge and attorney Judge Teresa Carr Deni, is no stranger to the justice system. And like Deni is no stranger to the justice system, her campaign is not without scandal. Overcoming the backlash from her 2007 case ruling involving the rape of a young prostitute, Deni must prove she isn’t affected by her own implicit bias.
The only republican candidate to announce during the primary, Beth Grossman has made it clear she wants to target those seeking change. With more than two decades in the DA’s office and a stint as a former city prosecutor, Grossman has a strong familiarity with position.
While Jude Deni has admitted that the excitement of an African-American DA may have been what led Seth Williams to victory in 2009, the rush for his replacement was not lost on his constituents. Shabazz was selected to work under Williams’ but similar to williams may have his own scandal with his tax debts.
Larry Krasner has been supported for his work as a defense attorney working with groups such as Occupy Philly, ACT-UP and Black Lives Matter. With such a political background combined with his career as an attorney, Krasner has the far-left political leaning for which many potential voters who have become politically active in Philadelphia have been searching.
Formerly the only republican candidate in the 2009 race, Michael Untermeyer ran as the lone wolf who is joining the pack in this election. His views may not have changed. His extensive work with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and 11 years in the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General makes the outsider’s track record similar to his opponents.