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Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner Declares Victory Over Challenger Carlos Vega In Primary

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner survived a challenge in the Democratic primary that pit his progressive reforms against growing concern over a rising tide of homicides and gun crimes. Democratic incumbent Larry Krasner declared victory over challenger Carlos Vega late Tuesday night.

With 72% of divisions reporting, Kranser holds 64% of the vote to Vega's 36%.

Krasner, discounting the general election in November, told gathered supporters that his second term begins now.

"Four years ago, we promised reform and a focus on serious crime. People believed what were at that point ideas, promises, and they voted us into office with a mandate. We kept those promises. People saw what we did, and this time, they re-elected us put us back into office again for what we have done. Not ideas, not promises, but realities," Krasner said.

Vega conceded the race in a statement.

"Tonight, I would like to thank the army of supporters my campaign has generated, despite being outspent significantly by my opponent, and despite receiving no establishment or celebrity support," Vega said. "My campaign was first and foremost about lifting up the voice of victims who have been forgotten by the current Administration. I hope they were heard.

"I ran for District Attorney to give victims a voice. I feel that D.A. Krasner has not lived up to the promises that he originally ran on, and that the spike in gun violence we are experiencing is not being taken seriously. Even though we came up short, tens of thousands of Philadelphians agree."

Hang-ups with mail-in ballot processing delayed any early calls in the race for district attorney. At Krasner's primary election night headquarters in Center City, a campaign spokesperson said they were very optimistic with the results as they rolled in.

COVID once again changed the dynamic of an event like this at the Sonesta, the number of supporters is capped.

Some staff members and executives from the DA's office attended, as well as a handful of Philadelphia City Council members.

Smooth jazz flowed through ceiling speakers — the mood very chill and relaxed.

Krasner ran on his platform of criminal justice reform, while his critics have seized on record-breaking homicide numbers and have laid blame on him.

In the Northeast, Eyewitness News met with Vega Tuesday evening. He said he was watching the results come in at a private gathering.

The polls had just closed and we were the only media there as volunteers applauded Vega outside the Knights of Columbus polling location in Torresdale.

The Democrat seeking to unseat Krasner spent the day wrapping up his campaign throughout Philadelphia.

Since announcing his run in September, he earned the support of former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Vega, who spent 35 years in the District Attorney's Office before being fired by Krasner, along with three dozen other veteran prosecutors, said he fears the city will reach 600 murders this year under Krasner's leadership, and that criminal justice reform does not have to come at the expense of safety.

"I am not going to have mothers bury their children, I know I can't stop it all but I am not going to have a repeat of this past Mother's Day, absolutely not. That is not going to happen under my watch," Vega said.

Vega said he hopes the race will serve as a "wake-up call for Krasner to do his job."

On the Republican side, defense attorney Charles Peruto is running unopposed for the district attorney nomination. He has previously said that he would drop out of the race if Vega wins the Democratic primary.

CBS3's Joe Holden and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.

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