Philly union, NYC activist backing Krasner for DA

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 Peter Matthews, president of  District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, announces the union's support for Larry Krasner (left) in the race for Philadelphia district attorney and incumbent Alan Butkovitz (right) for city controller.  (Bobby Allyn/WHYY)

Peter Matthews, president of District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, announces the union's support for Larry Krasner (left) in the race for Philadelphia district attorney and incumbent Alan Butkovitz (right) for city controller. (Bobby Allyn/WHYY)

Civil rights attorney Larry Krasner received a boost on Tuesday in his quest to become Philadelphia’s next district attorney by earning the backing of two individuals who have significant followings. 

Philadelphia’s largest municipal workers union, District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees, has decided to endorse Krasner in the seven-candidate Democratic field.

The union represents 13,000 municipal workers and counts some 3,000 retirees among its members, according to District Council 33 President Peter Matthews, who said Krasner’s outsider status appeals to the group.

“We’ve had a lot of people with experience, and we still had a lot of problems,” said Matthews, noting that the endorsement will translate into grass-roots support for Krasner.

“We have 30, 40 vans that are going out,” Matthews said. “We got hundreds of volunteers. We got a phone bank. We have a complete get-out-the-vote effort.”

Another person hoping to mobilize his base for Krasner is Shaun King. He’s the New York criminal justice activist and journalist who threw his weight behind Krasner on Facebook to his nearly 1.5 million followers, some of whom, King said, are Philadelphia voters.

“I kept reading about people who knew him personally, people who he defended across the years, and I kept seeing them say, ‘I know this guy. He’s the real deal,’ and I must’ve seen that 10 times before it really got my attention,” King said in an interview Tuesday. “We just underestimate the role of district attorneys in issues related to justice and injustice in America. So a lot of us have tried to wade where say, ‘Hey, we think there are some great alternatives here, some principled candidates.'”

Being principled is something lawyer Otis Bullock wants to talk about. He recently wrote a column for City and State arguing that progressives who endorse Krasner are abandoning their values. In particular, Bullock said liberals who object to big money in politics should not support Krasner because of the $1.4 million George Soros has pumped into a independent political action committee to assist Krasner’s candidacy.

“It’s using the corrupted system to try to fix a corrupted system,” Bullock said.

Bullock, who supports Rich Negrin for DA, said in the wake the federal corruption case against current DA Seth Williams alleging that he abused the office by taking bribes, Philadelphia needs a top prosecutor free from the influence of big money.

“So whether you’re selling the office to some donors for gifts and trips, or whether you’re selling the office to some big billionaire with an agenda — even if it’s an agenda that you like — it corrupts the office,” Bullock said.

Matthews and King responded that Krasner and Soros do not depart on criminal justice issues, so Soros’ money is not likely to alter Krasner’s politics.

The other candidates running for DA in the wide-open May 16 Democratic primary include Teresa Carr Deni, Tariq El-Shabazz, Joe Khan, Jack O’Neill and Michael Untermeyer. Beth Grossman is the sole Republican candidate. Take a look at what endorsements all the candidates have here

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