Candidates for Philadelphia District Attorney emerge

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With a primary election just over three months away, we're getting a clearer picture of who is vying for a spot on the ballot in the race for Philadelphia district attorney.

On Monday Chuck Peruto, a criminal defense attorney famous for representing high-profile clients such as reputed mob boss Joey Merlino and convicted serial murderer Gary Heidnik, announced he'd be running for Philadelphia District Attorney as a Republican candidate.

Peruto has been alluding to the possibility since last spring and says he is running on a law and order platform.

"If you shoot into a crowd, shoot on our streets, you're not going to get bail. If a judge doesn't want to side with us, we appeal that judge and you appeal again and you appeal again," said Peruto.

Peruto says he also recognizes that people may be concerned about his past, as a former girlfriend was found dead in his Rittenhouse Square condo in 2013.

Pertuo says he gladly testified before a grand jury as he was 80 miles away at the time of death. A grand jury found "no evidence of criminal activity" Peruto was never charged.

Current District Attorney, Democrat Larry Krasner, is the incumbent. He is a progressive candidate with major funding and name recognition.

Krasner held a press conference on Monday with a specific focus on juvenile justice. He also addressed the upcoming election.

"I suspect this entire election without mentioning any candidate is going to be a referendum. Do you like the past? Do you like the future? I think Philadelphians are pretty clear," said District Attorney Krasner.

Facing off against Larry Krasner as a Democratic challenger in the May primary will be retired homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega.

Vega worked in the DA's office for 35 years. He cites last year's murder rate as one of the many reasons for running.

"Over 500 murders, well over 2,000 shootings. We have to address that issue because I think we can make our city safe, and bring in certain change because reform is needed, but not at the expense of safety," said Vega.

The petition period starts next week signatures are due in mid-March. The primary election is on May 18.

Chuck Peruto says if Democrat Carlos Vega is victorious in the primary, he will not run against him in the general election.
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