Pennsylvania primary: Dwight Evans topples longtime Congressman Chaka Fattah

Fattah conceded the race shortly after 10 p.m.

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Dwight Evans for Congress

After representing Philadelphia for 22 years in Congress, Chaka Fattah — under indictment for alleged corruption — won’t return to office.

State Rep. Dwight Evans defeated Fattah in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary today, all but assuring his spot in Congress as the second congressional district is one of the most heavily Democratic in the country. Fattah conceded the race shortly after 10 p.m.

Evans has represented Northwest Philly in the state House since 1981 and clearly saw an opening in the second congressional district after Fattah was indicted last summer on charges he used public and campaign dollars to line the pockets of himself and his associates.

“I’m as innocent as you are under our system,” Fattah said in an interview with Billy Penn in March. “They don’t even have to believe in me. All they have to do is believe in the system.”

Despite those charges that Fattah has denied, Evans didn’t bring up the indictment while campaigning. Instead, he more quietly built a network of a supporters and a formidable war chest of campaign dollars that he could use to bolster his name in the district through ads that Fattah couldn’t afford.

Campaign finance reports showed Evans raised $27 for every dollar Fattah did. And while Fattah had the official support of the Democratic City Committee, Evans won endorsements from the likes of Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf.

Though Fattah didn’t have the cash to fund advertisements, he did tout his longtime experience in both the Philadelphia and Washington political scenes, saying that at least 25 million people have been impacted by programs he instituted over the years. He also serves on the powerful Committee on Appropriations and told voters a freshman congressman like Evans wouldn’t sit on a committee like that for years.

But it apparently wasn’t enough to win his loyal base over. Now, Fattah is out. His son, Chaka Fattah Jr., is in federal prison after being convicted of defrauding the school district. His wife, Renee Chenault-Fattah is no longer an anchor at NBC10 where she worked for the better part of two decades.

And now that the primary is over, Chaka Fattah is likely looking toward Monday. That’s when jury selection begins in his criminal trial.

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