GOP nominee rips Krasner in first campaign speech

Beth Grossman ran unopposed in Tuesday’s Republican primary for District Attorney. She hopes to swing Democrat voters in November.

Beth Grossman (right), the Republican nominee for district attorney, appeared alongside Democrat candidates including Larry Krasner (left) during a May 2 public forum presented by the Northeast Times, Northeast Victims Service and Greater Northeast Chamber of Commerce. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Larry Krasner won the Democratic nomination for district attorney on Tuesday by portraying himself as the leading anti-establishment candidate, the alternative to Philadelphia’s political machine.

In November’s general election, Republican nominee Beth Grossman will be hoping that a heretofore silent majority will back her as an alternative to the alternative. On Thursday night, Grossman launched an incisive salvo of Krasner criticisms during her first public appearance as the official GOP nominee.

Grossman, a former Democrat and city prosecutor, chose a well-attended Northeast Philadelphia civic association meeting to call out Krasner’s anti-police record as a self-described civil rights attorney and his ties to George Soros, the New York billionaire and progressive liberal benefactor who pumped $1.45 million into a pro-Krasner political action committee two weeks before the primary election.

Krasner “has spent his entire career defending those who commit crimes and suing the police,” Grossman said during the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association meeting.

“My mission for the city is entirely different than Mr. Krasner’s, in all seriousness.”

During the primary campaign, Krasner boasted that he’s sued police or the government 75 times on behalf of clients, who have included demonstrators involved in the Occupy Philly and Black Lives Matter movements.

Grossman, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary, also suggested that Soros will be expecting some payback for his donation to the Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety PAC, which used the money to pay for TV ads, online ads, mailings and people to walk door-to-door speaking directly to prospective voters, according campaign finance records cited by philly.com.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch, ladies and gentlemen,” Grossman told Thursday’s meeting-goers.

Two nights earlier, Krasner attempted to distance himself from Soros while defending his own progressive record during comments to news reporters at his victory party.

“I don’t have to pick up the phone for anyone,” Krasner said, according to philly.com. “It’s no disrespect to Mr. Soros, whom I have never met, or his organization, but the bottom line is I have held these views for a long time.”

Citywide voter turnout among Democrats was about 18 percent, a six percent increase from 2013, according to published reports. Krasner won 47 of the city’s 66 wards, but other Democrats fared well in the Northeast, the River Wards, Roxborough and South Philadelphia. Rich Negrin, Michael Untermeyer, Jack O’Neill and Joe Khan all won Northeast wards, while Krasner won no wards north of Cottman Avenue.

About 100 people attended Thursday’s civic meeting expecting to learn about a rumored swingers club in the neighborhood as well as plans for the redevelopment of a former public housing project. Grossman was not on the agenda circulated in advance of the meeting.

But she and Mike Tomlinson, the Republican nominee for city controller, took advantage of the civic association’s offer to address the crowd. Grossman said she worked 21½ years in the DA’s office mostly during the tenure of Lynne Abraham, the longest-serving DA in city history who became known as the “Queen of Death” for her propensity to seek the death penalty in capital murder cases. Grossman worked in the office’s trial, juvenile, investigations, law and narcotics divisions. She oversaw the unit in charge of seizing properties linked to drug offenders and led the DA’s Public Nuisance Task Force.

Grossman left the DA’s office in 2015 and served a year as chief of staff in the Department of Licenses and Inspection. But while still a prosecutor in 2013, she switched parties in response to a spate of corruption scandals involving Democratic elected officials.

“When one party has too much power, this is what it leads to,” Grossman said.

Indeed, Philadelphia remains a stronghold for Democrats, who account for 77.4 percent of the city’s 1,034,167 registered voters, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. And the city hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1947.

Yet, Grossman noted, there are more-recent examples of Republicans nicking the DA’s office. The late Arlen Specter served two terms from 1966 to ’74 — that was after his participation on the Warren Commission and before his 30-year career in the U.S. Senate. Ron Castille won the DA’s office in 1985 and again in ’89. He resigned in 1991 to run for mayor, but lost the primary to Frank L. Rizzo.

Grossman said she is personally troubled by the federal corruption charges involving Abraham’s successor and her former boss, Seth Williams.

“It breaks my heart,” she said, adding that the Williams scandal is a black mark on the office and betrays the public trust. ••

William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.