(Photo credit: Congressman Bob Brady)
In a meeting with Democratic City Committee on Wednesday afternoon, Congressman Bob Brady confirmed the rumor that had been swirling in local political circles for months: he won't be running for reelection.
In a triple by-line report from the Inquirer, Chris Brennan, Holly Otterbein, and Claudia Vargas report that Brady intends to continue on as chair of the local Democratic Party, and denies that the move has anything to do with the FBI investigation that has so far led to federal charges against two of his top political hands, Ken Smukler and D.A. Jones:
"[Brady] revealed the news in a way that seemed all too perfect for the decades-long party boss: At a noon meeting, he told ward leaders at the Democratic City Committee’s headquarters that he was calling it quits.
Brady’s announcement is guaranteed to shake up the city: It could reduce the political clout of Philadelphia’s delegation, which besides Brady includes two congressmen with little to no seniority, in an election year in which many observers think Democrats could take back control of the U.S. House.
It will also likely attract more candidates to jump into the race for Brady’s First Congressional District seat. And though Brady said he is going to continue to serve as party chairman, some will likely see it as a sign that the city’s Democratic machine is growing increasingly weaker."
Brady claims he won't try to hand-pick a successor, and will instead leave the decision to the ward leaders, meaning that Philly is about to get the open primary we deserve. Prior to this announcement, it had been rumored that Brady would circulate petitions for the first two weeks of the petition period, and then his campaign would circulate petitions for former Controller Jonathan Saidel, in hopes of staving off more challengers from entering the race than are already announced.
So far the field to replace Brady includes former Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad, Michele Lawrence, a former Wells Fargo Executive and pastor at Dare to Imagine, and disgraced former Traffic Court judge Willie Singletary. Possible candidates include 191st District Rep. Joanna McClinton, Green Light Fund executive director Omar Woodard, Lindy Li, who briefly ran for Congress in the 7th District, Richie Lazer, Jim Kenney's longtime aide and current Deputy Mayor of Labor, and Kevin Johnson, the head pastor at Dare to Imagine, the same church as Michele Lawrence.
According to the Inquirer, Brady "suggested Richie Lazer might be a good fit for the job" but says he plans to stay out of both the primary and the redrawing of the Congressional map, which could potentially severely alter the district.
While Brady may yet hang onto the party Chair position after this year's ward elections, it seems clear that the passing of the torch will usher in a more factional era in city politics. Through sheer force of personal charisma, Brady has been able to hold together a party organization that could easily crack apart along geographical, racial, and ideological lines in the care of a less capable politician, and it's nearly impossible to think of another local figure who fits the bill. Under the circumstances, it's a very exciting time to get involved in party politics, starting with this year's committeeperson races.
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