Interest is already swirling around the seat of Philadelphia state Rep. Brian Sims, who represents a large chunk of Center City and has announced that he’ll challenge indicted U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in 2016.
But Billy Penn has learned that state Sen. Vincent Hughes’ staffer Ben Waxman, a well-connected press officer and former journalist, is strongly considering a run for Sims’ state House seat, which covers Center City and parts of Fairmount and South Philly. Waxman won’t confirm his intentions, but in August he registered the domain name votewaxman.com.
Waxman is a close aide to Hughes, a Philly Democrat who is also a chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He’s also served as a field director for Pennsylvania Voice, a network of about 30 statewide progressive organizations working toward higher voter registration and civic engagement. He was named by Billy Penn as one of the 18 young politicians making a difference in Philly, and was recently recognized on PennLive.com as one of the most important behind-the-scenes difference-makers in state budget talks.
What’s still unclear is who all Waxman — should he officially run for the first time for elected office — would be competing against for the seat.
Sims, 37, who lives in Center City, told Billy Penn Tuesday that he plans to run for re-election in his state House district in addition to his congressional run, saying he doesn’t believe in “resigning to run.”
Experts say it could be a bad idea. Larry Ceisler, a close follower of Philadelphia politics, called Sims’ run for Congress a “longshot” and said Sims is likely frustrated with things in Harrisburg, adding “who wouldn’t be?”
“I can’t see him running for both at the same time,” he said. “I have to believe he would be challenged in his state House seat also. So you just can’t run in two competitive races. You can’t.”
This story was updated.