Despite his indictment in a federal racketeering case, longtime Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah has said he’s staying put in his district. The architects behind a political crowdfunding website want to make him fight for it.
The organization, Crowdpac, has pitched 19 potential challengers for the race, with the aim of stirring up political competition in Fattah’s Democratic stronghold of a district in Philadelphia. Crowdpac allows voters and donors to suggest candidates for office and pledge funds to them; if the candidates decide to launch official campaigns, Crowdpac then routes the money to them.
Given Fattah’s legal troubles and Philadelphia’s strong political structure, the group saw Pennsylvania’s 2nd District as a prime market to test its model and show prospective candidates that support exists for them to run. But even against a congressman under indictment, challengers face a distinctly uphill climb here, raising questions about how effective crowdfunding websites can be at pushing political change—especially in lower-level races where attention levels, and the fundraising that comes with it, can be very low.
“They can find whoever they want, but if it’s not somebody who can raise the money, who has the organization … [Fattah] is going to be hard to beat,” said Terry Madonna, a pollster in Pennsylvania. “You’re talking about a guy who’s been elected since 1994 in a district where he’s helped a lot of people.”