Chaka Fattah just got an Election Day boost.
The indicted congressman, facing a primary fight in his quest for re-election in the second congressional district, today won the endorsement of the city Democratic party. That means he’ll have ward leaders and committee-people across Philadelphia on his side come the Democratic primary on April 26.
“When the Democratic party endorses a candidate it does provide a major boost to a candidacy,” Fattah said in an interview today. “But it’s added to a host of other endorsements.”
Fattah, a veteran politician who hasn’t gone up against an opponent in a primary race for his second district congressional seat since he first won it in 1994, is in the midst of a heated primary against challengers with war chests much larger than his. Rep. Dwight Evans, a longtime state politician from northwest Philadelphia, is seen as Fattah’s biggest threat. He raised $360,000 over the last year, and has about $303,000 on-hand, according to the most recently filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission.
Evans has won endorsements from figures like Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf. But Fattah points out that he now has the backing of not only the city Democratic party and its ward leaders, but of several unions including the Service Employees International Union that has 80,000 members statewide.
Fattah’s quest for re-election has been controversial. He’s low on cash, as most of the money he fundraises is going to pay lawyers defending him against the feds. Last summer, he was indicted on 29 counts of racketeering and prosecutors claim he used taxpayer dollars for personal and political gain. Fattah denies the charges.
And though the longtime pol has had trouble raising cash to spend on his campaign and faces a host of other hurdles, political watchers say the fact that his name has been on the ballot in West Philadelphia for 20 years means just as much.
“This is not about Dwight Evans, Brian Sims or Dan Muroff, it’s about Chaka Fattah,” Larry Ceisler, longtime political strategist and principal of Ceisler Communications, told Billy Penn earlier this month. “If Chaka hadn’t been indicted, there wouldn’t be a primary election. They’re going to be voting up and down on Chaka Fattah. Not on anybody else.”