The campaigns of House Reps. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) to become Philadelphia’s next mayor ended yesterday when each was defeated in the city’s Democratic primary election. Former City Councilman Michael Nutter won a decisive victory in the five-way race, collecting approximately 37% of the vote (watch acceptance speech). He was followed by businessman Tom Knox (25%), Brady (15%) (watch concession), Fattah (15%) (watch concession), and PA State Rep. Dwight Evans (8%). Nutter, who was heavily supported by the progressive netroots, is widely expected to prevail in November’s general election as Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since 1948. He campaigned on a record of ethics reform and a controversial anti-crime initiative which would allow city police to use “stop and frisk” tactics on those suspected of illegally carrying concealed weapons. Violent crime was a major issue throughout the campaign, as Philadelphia is on pace to record over 400 murders for the second consecutive year.
It was a tumultuous campaign for both Brady and Fattah. Brady, who along with serving in Congress also heads the city’s Democratic Party organization, was nearly removed from the ballot last month after failing to include a city pension on his financial disclosure forms. Ultimately, the PA Supreme Court allowed him to correct the error. Meanwhile, Fattah admitted to using $36,767 from his mayoral exploratory committee to fund his campaign, a violation of Philadelphia campaign finance law. He promised to reimburse the exploratory committee, and no fine was levied against him. In addition, both Brady and Fattah unsuccessfully advocated for the elimination of Philadelphia’s recently-enacted campaign contribution limits, which they called unfair because Tom Knox, a multi-millionaire, was able to spend unlimited sums of his own money on the race.
Brady and Fattah heavily committed themselves to the campaign in its final weeks, and were largely absent from Capitol Hill. In fact, with the exception of Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.), who is battling a recurrence of cancer, no House member has missed more votes in 2007 than Brady or Fattah. Brady has missed 128 (36.8% of those taken), while Fattah has missed 141 (40.5%). Each is now expected to return to Congress, where Brady recently became interim chair of the House Administration Committee (upon the death of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald) and Fattah has a seat on the Appropriations Committee. Brady and Fattah now join fellow Democratic Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), all of whom have been defeated in big-city mayoral contests in the past fifteen years.