The End of an Era: Looking Back on Fattah’s Long, Checkered Career

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., center, walks with Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., left, in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Back in better days for Chaka Fattah, he walked with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in Philadelphia on April 22nd, 2008. | Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP

Update, June 21st, 2016: Chaka Fattah was found guilty on all counts in his federal corruption trial.

Chaka Fattah was great at politics.

I write “was” because, yesterday, longtime state Rep. Dwight Evans defeated him in a primary election for the Congressional seat in Pennsylvania’s 2nd District. This might seem like a no-brainer since Fattah had been indicted last July on corruption charges. But this is Philadelphia. When Fattah led with 55 percent of the vote in early returns against Evans and two other challengers, political observers had the same thought: He might actually pull this off.

He didn’t. Evans won the Democratic primary — the de facto election in a district as liberal as the 2nd — with more than 73,000 votes. Fattah was well behind with more than 60,000 votes, 42 to 36 percent. (Lower Merion Commissioner Brian Gordon had more than 23,000, votes while former CeaseFire PA director Daniel Muroff had 17,500.) James Jones, who ran unopposed on the Republican side, will face Evans in November. Sorry, James: Evans will win.

Arlen Specter was in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. In 2010, after switching parties, he lost to Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary. I covered his Election Night party, held in the same room as my high school’s senior prom. It was so sad. My prom was incredibly fun, and this party nearly ruined my memories of it.

Fattah’s last-night-in-politics party was much worse. There were 30 people at the nurses’ union hall on Locust Street off Broad over the course of the night. At most. The only conversation I had with any Fattah supporter was about the roast beef. It was over before 11 p.m. There were so few people there, I was able to grab a “FATTAH 2016” hat for my girlfriend. She loves Renee. Read more »

Casey on Pa. Overdose Epidemic: “We’re Leading in a Category We Don’t Want to Be Leading”

bob-casey-overdose-deaths-940x540

Drug overdose deaths have rapidly increased in recent years and experts say this is due in large part to abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin addiction. The number of Americans who die annually from heroin addiction has increased by 244 percent since 2007. In 2013 alone overdoses from prescription pain medications killed more than 16,000 people. Drug overdose now exceeds car crashes as the No. 1 cause of injury-related death in the United States.

Pennsylvania has been hit hard by the rising epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,732 people in Pa. died of drug overdoses in 2014 and overdose deaths have increased by 12.9% in one year from 2013-2014. As Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said in a conference call this morning, “We’re leading in a category we don’t want to be leading. Pennsylvania is third in the nation for heroin deaths.” Read more »

Can Dwight Evans Beat Chaka Fattah?

Fattah-Evans

It’s official. Dwight Evans, the reborn political king of Northwest Philly, will face off against Chaka Fattah, the trailblazing 20-year Congressman who is now serving under the dark cloud of a federal indictment.

This should be a hell of a contest. It’s a matchup of two titans. Both are bruised and battered, both remain far more powerful than their detractors would like, and both — despite the advanced stage of their respective careers — once more have a lot to prove. Read more »

Brian Sims: “I’m Running For Congress!”

From Sims' Facebook page.

From Sims’ Facebook page.

Brian Sims put the speculation to rest this morning when he announced via Facebook that he is, indeed, running for Congress, challenging indicted incumbent Chaka Fattah for his seat in the 2nd Congressional District.

“I’m excited to announce it first right here on Facebook: I’m running for Congress! Will you add your name to join my grassroots team?” he posted to his official page. Read more »

Brian Sims Is Probably Running for Congress

State Rep. Brian Sims

State Rep. Brian Sims

Brian Sims, the 37-year-old Democratic state representative, won’t say whether he’s going to run for Congress. But we’re pretty sure he’s going to run for Congress.

Rumors have been swirling about it for months, Harrisburg insiders have told us he’s already confirmed his plans to run with some people, and Sims recently sent supporters an invitation for an October 6th fundraiser for the “Brian Sims for Congress Exploratory Committee.”

The invitation said attendees could join Sims for “a candid conversation about bringing ethical behavior back to Philadelphia-area politics.” Read more »

Pope Shouts Out Philadelphia (Once) in Speech to Congress

First, off, let’s get to the point: The pope mentioned Philadelphia in his address to Congress!

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families.

Yeah, that was the only part. But at that point, someone preemptively clapped for the shoutout. Now that’s a Philadelphian.

Besides his Philly shout-out, the pope told a joint session of Congress he was addressing “those who strive each day to do an honest days work, to bring home the daily bread.” Pope Francis spoke of four Americans in history that he admired: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

Francis used the lives of those four Americans to hit his major points: He wants the death penalty abolished. He wants Americans to show compassion for immigrants. He wants to give hope to those around the world stuck in extreme poverty. And he wants the world to take steps to fight global warming, as he wrote in an encyclical earlier this year.

“You are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face,” he told Congress. Read more »

If Fattah Goes Down, Who Would Voters Replace Him With?

Clockwise from the top: Mayor Michael Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke, District Attorney Seth Williams and state Sen. Vincent Hughes.

Clockwise from the top: Mayor Michael Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke, state Sen. Vincent Hughes and District Attorney Seth Williams.

It finally happened: Philadelphia Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was indicted on corruption charges Wednesday.

Already, political insiders are wondering if the congressman will resign in the coming months or simply choose not to run for reelection in 2016. If either scenario unfolds, who would replace him? And how would that work?

The question has been bubbling up ever since two members of Fattah’s inner circle pleaded guilty last year. You can expect more names than ever to be bandied about now.

Some of the bigger ones include Mayor Michael Nutter, City Council President Darrell Clarke, District Attorney Seth Williams, Councilman Curtis Jones, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, state Sen. Anthony Williams, state Sen. Daylin Leach, state Rep. Brian Sims, School Reform Commission member Bill Green, former mayoral candidate Doug Oliver, ward leader Daniel Muroff and real estate analyst Dan Kessler. That’s not even a full list. Check out some other possibilities here.

Watching some of these candidates confront each other in an open election would be a sight to see, but there’s no guarantee that’s what would happen. Indeed, there are five distinct scenarios that could unfold here. Let’s run them down.
Read more »

Nutter: Congressional Republicans “Are Almost Acting Like ISIS”

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

If Congress doesn’t act by February 27th, funding for the Department of Homeland Security will run out.

Mayor Nutter says that would undermine the national security efforts underway in Philadelphia. In a conference call with Democratic senators and other local officials across the country, he said it would force the city to go without reimbursement for rent for the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center as well as training for specialized police and fire units.

“Terrorism is not a game,” said Nutter. “We don’t have time for games.”

Read more »

Fattah to Media: Focus on the Good I Do, Not Federal Investigation

Chaka Fattah

Chaka Fattah spoke to reporters for 22 minutes Monday, and gave one of the best types of interviews a politician can ever give: One about how great he is! These are just the best.

Fattah wouldn’t touch on the federal case swirling around him. In a plea deal with Gregory Naylor, federal prosecutors said “Elected Official A” — widely reported to be Fattah — obtained an illegal campaign loan. Fattah has denied illegal conduct before, and did so again on Monday. But he wouldn’t answer any questions during his session: “There’s no question that I can answer in which you’re not going to have another hundred questions.” As Philly Mag’s Patrick Kerkstra tweeted: “Um yeah.”

He added he wouldn’t address allegations made by people “who have been waking up every morning for seven years trying to figure out how to say that maybe I had done something wrong.”

Read more »

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