Progressive candidates were victorious in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh’s Democratic primaries Tuesday night, winning races by wide margins after a yearlong surge in violent crime.
In Philadelphia, progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner cruised to a second term, beating moderate, police-backed primary challenger Carlos Vega by 30 points, even as multiple reports pointed to a potentially close race. In Pittsburgh, progressive state Rep. Ed Gainey ousted incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto by approximately seven points, making him poised to be the first black mayor in the city’s history.
Krasner, who was first elected in 2017 on a platform of criminal justice reform, told supporters Tuesday that he had kept his promises to focus on crime within the city.
“This time, they put us back in office for what we have done,” he said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Not ideas. Not promises, but realities.”
His reelection, however, was tested by Philadelphia’s spike in shootings throughout 2020. The city suffered over 2,200 shootings last year, nearly 500 of which were fatal.
In his victory speech, Krasner rejected the notion that his policies had led to the crime increases, and instead called for additional funding for crime prevention measures: “That mandate has rejected, definitively, a politics of fear that is built on falsehoods,” he said.
“We have to invest in [crime prevention measures] because we were robbed of them a long time ago,” he added. “And what we are facing now is the consequences.”
In Pittsburgh, Peduto conceded to Gainey shortly before 10:30 p.m., wishing him well and thanking city residents for trusting him for the past eight years.
Gainey centered his campaign around making Pittsburgh a better city for all its residents, especially residents of color. Tuesday’s election was also the first since a report found that quality of life for black residents was worse in Pittsburgh than almost every other major American city.
He also campaigned on “demilitarizing” the city’s police force, banning no-knock warrants, and redirecting funding towards community policing methods.
“One person can’t change a city,” Gainey said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “A city is changed with all of us. A city is changed when we all come together to improve the quality of life for everybody. That’s why I ran for mayor: because I believe we can have a city for all.”
Like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh also saw homicides jump in 2020. The city suffered 51 killings last year, a nearly 40% increase from 2019, though the spike followed a nearly two-decade decline.
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