House races

Rep. Fattah becomes first lawmaker to lose primary

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) on Tuesday became the first House incumbent this election cycle to lose a primary, amid a federal indictment alleging ethics violations.

The 11-term lawmaker had never faced a primary challenger for reelection in his Philadelphia-area district until this year but trailed longtime state Rep. Dwight Evans by nearly 10 points, with about 90 percent of the vote counted, according to multiple outlets.

Fattah became vulnerable this cycle after he and several associates were indicted last year on 29 counts related to bribery, money laundering and falsification of records. 

{mosads}Fattah conceded the race Tuesday night in an acknowledgment he didn’t have the votes to win reelection.

“There were forces arrayed against us tonight of very powerful and influential people,” Fattah told supporters in his concession speech, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

The Justice Department alleged that Fattah borrowed $1 million from a donor during his unsuccessful 2007 Philadelphia mayoral campaign and then repaid part of the loan by filtering funds through charitable and federal grants for his nonprofit. Fattah also allegedly used funds from his mayoral and congressional campaigns to pay off his son’s student loan debt.

The indictment further stated that Fattah accepted bribes while trying to secure an ambassadorship or appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission for former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Herbert Vederman. Vederman allegedly provided Fattah with money in exchange but tried to conceal an $18,000 payment by disguising it as the result of a car sale that never occurred.

Fattah has maintained his innocence. But he did step down from his post as the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department.

Evans posed a stronger challenge that Fattah’s two other rivals, lawyer Dan Muroff and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon. He collected multiple high-profile endorsements, including from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and former Gov. Ed Rendell, ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Evans will be favored to win the general election in the deeply Democratic district.


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