Roughly three months out from April’s Democratic primary, state Rep. Dwight Evans has more campaign cash than any of the candidates in the Second Congressional District, especially incumbent U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, who is running while facing federal political corruption charges.
As of Jan 31. , the latest filing, Evans has $303,012 on hand. That’s nearly $100,000 more than the next candidate.
“I try to stay very even keel about all of this in terms of money or polling. At the end of the day, what’s important is the voters,” said Evans, considered Fattah’s biggest competition.
Ward leader Dan Muroff, who making his first stab at public office, has $208,569 on hand. State Rep. Brian Sims reported $181,320. Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon has $16,169.
Rep. Fattah currently sits at the bottom of the list, though not surprisingly. To date, the veteran lawmaker’s fundraising efforts have been dismal as he prepares to fight off charges that could end his political career and send him to prison.
Fattah, who maintains his innocence, reported $7,673. Four months ago, he had less than $3,000. Going forward, he said he’d raise “enough” money to be competitive, though he doesn’t think fundraising will sink his bid to win a 12th term in Congress.
“If you take my name recognition, the fact that I’ve been an incumbent for two decades, [my challengers] would need war chests five times the size they have to get on a similar footing in the district,” said Fattah.
Despite Evans’ big money lead over Fattah and the rest of the field, Fattah has party and union support, which could help bring in more dollars and votes.
Last week, Philadelphia’s Local 404 of the United Steelworkers Union endorsed Fattah.
Local 1199-C of the Hospital Workers Union has also backed him along with a slew of elected officials, including the city’s Democratic Party chairman U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and state Sen. Anthony Williams.
Fattah also has considerable ward support. Roughly 20 African-American leaders from across the city have endorsed him.
The Democratic primary is April 26, roughly a week before Fattah’s trial is slated to start. Because of the district’s makeup, the race will effectively crown the area’s next congressman.
The district includes parts of North, West and Northwest Philadelphia and most of Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County.
In July, federal prosecutors hit Fattah and four associates with 29-count indictment that includes charges of racketeering, conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud.
The groups is accused of misusing campaign contributions, grant money and charitable donations. Fattah is accused of masterminding the plan to repay an illegal campagin loan he took out when running for Philadelphia mayor in 2007.