In a decisive victory that his supporters called historic because he is black, R. Seth Williams won the Democratic primary for Philadelphia district attorney last night, taking more than 41 percent of the votes in a five-man field, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Williams lost to incumbent Lynne Abraham in 2005. In the general election, he will face Michael Untermeyer, a lawyer and real estate developer who ran unopposed on the GOP ticket. In Philadelphia, Democrats outnumber Republicans 7-1.
Looking ahead to an anticipated victory in the general election, J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said: “Seth is going to be the first elected D.A. of color in a seriously major American city. It’s a historic election.” [Mondesire apparently doesn’t consider Dallas, where Craig Watkins was elected in 2006.] Criminologist Lawrence Sherman of the University of Pennsylvania said Williams’ “biggest challenge will be to integrate police, the D.A.’s Office, and probation around a clear set of priorities, especially in managing over 100,000 offenders. It’s a challenge because it’s never happened. And if it could happen, it’ll be a safer city, and that’s what the election is all about.”