Who Could Fill Brian Sims’ Shoes as He Takes a Run at Chaka Fattah?
[Updated 10/7/15] Philadelphia state Rep. Brian Sims has finally made it official: He announced Tuesday morning he is campaigning for Congress against incumbent U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in the 2016 primary election.
Already, some people are reportedly thinking about running for Sims’ seat in the state House, which is also up for grabs next year.
Rumored potential candidates for the 182nd legislative House district include attorney Adam Beck, journalist/civic activist Jon Geeting, former state Rep. Babette Josephs, real estate investment analyst Dan Kessler, small business owner Marisa Piccarreto and state senate staffer Ben Waxman. (After this article was published, Geeting said on Twitter that he has no plans to run.)
Waxman, a spokesman for state Sen. Vincent Hughes, appears to be the furthest along in considering a campaign. He formed a PAC in August and has registered the website votewaxman.com.
Sims told Citified Tuesday that he is planning on running for both U.S. Congress and the Pennsylvania State House at the same time. He previously had not announced that, so some possible candidates might not be considering a run for the 182nd seat as seriously as they may have been yesterday.
Analysts believe it is unwise for Sims to run for Congress and the State House at the same time. Political consultant Larry Ceisler told Citified recently, “I don’t think the people in that district would look very positively to somebody being on the ballot twice.”
Likewise, Mustafa Rashed, president of government relations firm Bellevue Strategies (and a Citified insider), said it is beneficial for candidates to try out for only one seat at a time.
“There’s precedent on candidates running for two offices at once, but mostly when running at the very top of the ticket, i.e when Joe Biden ran for Senate while also for Vice President,” he said. “In local politics, I think people want to see your level of commitment and your belief in what you’re pursuing.”
Sims strongly defended his decision to campaign for Congress and the State House in 2016, however.
“I am a dedicated public servant,” he said, “and I fully intend to serve the people, whether in the General Assembly or in Congress.”
Sims will face an uphill battle in his campaign against Fattah, a 20-year incumbent. If Sims defies the odds and wins both primaries for Congress and the State House, ward leaders would likely end up hand-picking his replacement in the General Assembly.
Sims could withdraw from the State House race in the summer, at which point ward leaders would select the Democratic nominee, and that person would be the favorite against any potential Republican or Independent candidates. Experts said another possibility is that Sims could win both general elections and withdraw from his State House seat before being sworn in. Then a special election would be scheduled and (you guessed it!) ward leaders would choose the Democratic nominee.