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District Attorney Lynne Abraham addresses supporters at her campaign victory party at the Radisson Plaza Warwick Hotel in Center City last night.[Pete Ruscitti/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

From the time the polls closed in yesterday's district attorney race, incumbent Democrat Lynne Abraham grabbed hold of the lead and never let go.

Abraham, who became Philadelphia's first female district attorney in April 1991, won her third term in office with about two-thirds of the total vote.

Supporters started streaming into the Warwick Hotel in Center City after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Most of those gathered were waiting not so much for the results, but for Abraham's opponents to give her the win.

Abraham was challenged by Republican Joseph Bongiovanni, Education Party candidate Leon Williams and Green Party hopeful Richard Ash.

Bongiovanni, the major party challenger, called to concede the victory to Abraham at 10:31 p.m., and Abraham said the call lasted about two minutes, with Bongiovanni offering his congratulations.

Abraham came down to her victory party shortly after receiving the call, and, while she did not want to spoil the occasion by talking about her plans for the coming four years, she did want to take time and thank all of her supporters.

Gratitude extended beyond her own campaign team to the numerous union leaders and members in the city who endorsed her, to the city's clergy, and to notable city leaders, including Mayor John Street.

Abraham was also not one to mince words concerning all the people who had not supported her campaign for re-election.

"These guys have tried to beat me into believing what they wanted me to believe because they live in the suburbs, and they don't know what it is to live in Philadelphia and to live in fear and want somebody, anybody, in government to listen," Abraham said of her opponents.

Nor were the members of the news media who gave their support to Bongiovanni spared Abraham's criticism.

Abraham particularly wanted to thank The Philadelphia Tribune, an African-American newspaper, which, unlike the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, offered her its endorsement.

"Of all the papers in Philadelphia, they're the only one that had the guts and the integrity to call it right," Abraham said, noting that the other dailies will feel stupid this morning "because it looks like their guy may come in third."

Throughout this campaign, Abraham's opponents have pointed to, among other things, her lack of support within Philadelphia's minority communities, with some even going so far as to call her a racist.

But Abraham and her campaign officials said that those accusation were nothing but "bologna."

"The African-American community, the gay community, women's groups, you name it and I have support," Abraham said. "They know I'm for them. I'm inviting them to join the fight with me because that's what I do every day."

Eleanor Dezzi, Abraham's campaign manager, added that if people still believe the incumbent is polarizing minority communities, then "they should check the numbers" from this election.

"If you saw the numbers coming in from the African-American wards, they're staggering," Dezzi said.

None of the results coming in were much of a shock to Abraham's campaign, though, as they have been fairly confident of a win throughout.

"I think we got what we expected, the citizens spoke," Dezzi said. "They've shown that they appreciate that she stands up for the victims of crime. They're with her and what she believes in and she's going to continue doing what she always has done -- loved the law and used the law."

While Abraham wanted to wait until today to start any discussion with the media about plans for the future, she did briefly touch upon some steps she wants to take to expand the DA's role in crime prevention.

Abraham said her office was looking to get out on the scene of crimes much earlier then they do presently, and toward getting involved in the case much earlier.

Abraham's tough stances on crime have made her popular with the city's law enforcement officials, and Penn's own Vice President for Public Safety, Maureen Rush, was out supporting Abraham last night.

Abraham is "a true hero in law enforcement," Rush said. "She believes in the same things I believe in, and that is to keep the citizens of Philadelphia safe and to do everything she has to to keep the streets safe -- by prosecuting people and making sure that they don't come back out and revictimize people."

Abraham's celebration plans included heading to the famed Melrose Diner for a cup of coffee and a slice of coconut cream pie.

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