DA Seth Willliams’ deputy makes a move — to run?

    First Assistant District Attorney Tariq El-Shabazz has resigned. (Emma Lee/WHYY

    First Assistant District Attorney Tariq El-Shabazz has resigned. (Emma Lee/WHYY

    Tariq El-Shabazz has resigned his post as first assistant district attorney of Philadelphia, prompting intense speculation that he will enter the May Democratic primary for city district attorney.

    Reached briefly by phone Monday, El-Shabazz declined to discuss his plans.

    Incumbent District Attorney Seth Williams’ announcement Friday that he won’t run for re-election dramatically changed the shape of the May 16 primary.

    Before Friday, five announced candidates where challenging Williams, the only African-American in the field.

    With no incumbent and no one in the field with great name recognition, political consultants said, there’s now an opening for a credible African-American candidate.

    “There’s just a huge, huge push to try and recruit someone of African-American descent to run for DA,” said veteran political consultant Maurice Floyd.

    El-Shabazz spent five years as an assistant district attorney earlier in his career, then began defense work.Williams hired El-Shabazz to the DA’s office in August.

    Other names are being mentioned — including Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, and attorney Kevin Harden — as possible candidates.

    Harden told me he’s “seriously considering” a run for DA. Neither Tucker nor McClinton returned calls for comment.

    Tucker and McClinton would have to give up their current gigs to run, and winning is no sure thing.

    A candidate who gets in the race now has three weeks to collect 1,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot, and will have to start raising money in a hurry.

    In what is expected to be a low turnout race, the will of the city’s 69 Democratic ward leaders will matter, and,  at the moment, the battle for their allegiance is pretty wide open.

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