- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Lynne Abraham, the former Philadelphia top prosecutor known as a “one tough cookie,” entered the mayor’s race Wednesday, projecting herself as a reform-minded candidate and promising to secure more education funding.

“If you want a leader who will transform Philadelphia under the banner of reform, who has the experience to get things done, the grit, the desire and the courage to break some china along the way and turn Philadelphia into a great American city, I am your candidate,” she told more than 100 supporters at the Franklin Institute on Wednesday.

Abraham, who entered to a standing ovation as string band members known as Mummers played the “Rocky” theme, said Pennsylvania needs “statewide fairness” in education.

“As mayor of the city of Philadelphia I will expand everything, everything in the educational field,” Abraham said. “I will spend every resource at my command to fight for fairness in school funding, including lobbying the state for proper legislation or joining in litigation or doing whatever we have to do to get appropriate funding for our children.”

Current Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter, who cannot run for a third term, successfully pushed the state legislature to pass a $2-per-pack cigarette sales tax to help the city’s financially troubled public schools. Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law in September.

Abraham served as the city’s first female district attorney and a victory would make her Philadelphia’s first female mayor. She spent nearly two decades as district attorney before declining to run for a sixth term in 2009.

Two strong nicknames have followed her throughout her career: “One tough cookie,” which was bestowed in 1972 by then-Mayor Frank Rizzo, and “America’s deadliest D.A.,” a label from The New York Times Magazine stemming from her aggressive pursuit of the death penalty.

During her time as the city’s top prosecutor, Abraham oversaw a grand jury probe that alleged local Catholic church leaders hid priest abuse and her office convicted onetime counterculture guru Ira Einhorn, who hid in Europe for years after murdering his ex-girlfriend.

She currently works as a partner at a private city law firm, focusing on government relations, mediation and trial strategy. The 73-year-old quickly discounted questions of whether her age could be a negative factor for her during the campaign.

“Nobody’s going to outrun me, out-campaign me, out-talk me, out-think me,” Abraham told reporters after her announcement. “I’ve got more energy than all the other candidates put together. You will see it on rich display during this campaign.”

Abraham faces competition for the Democratic nomination from former city solicitor Kenneth Trujillo and Terry Gillen, who once headed the city Redevelopment Authority. State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is expected to declare his candidacy Wednesday evening.

Philadelphia voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, so the winner of the spring primary usually faces light opposition in the fall general election.

Associated Press Writer Kathy Matheson contributed to this story.

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