The backing of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity is a sought-after endorsement in city elections, especially mayoral races.
This year, the organization has endorsed three candidates, all African-American, in regional Democratic congressional primaries.
The group chose U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans in the 3rd District, the western half of Philadelphia, over challenger the Rev. Kevin Johnson.
It picked Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland over nine rivals in the 5th District centered in Delaware County.
And, in the 2nd District, in the eastern half of Philadelphia, it chose challenger Michele Lawrence over U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle.
The group’s president, the Rev. Jay Broadnax, announced the picks at a news conference in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia Monday.
Broadnax urged voters to turn out and reject federal policies that he said have harmed African-American communities.
“Now is the time to begin pushing back and resisting national trends that are reverting us back to environments and behaviors long forsaken,” he said. “Please get to the polls and vote on May 15.”
The endorsements were based on candidates’ positions on issues of importance to the group, Broadnax said.
A committee conducted an interview with candidates who sought support from the group.
Broadnax said the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity represents about 50 ministers. Members can’t endorse candidates from the pulpit, but they hope the group’s seal of approval will be a signal of trust to voters.