The Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District
The Fightin' 13th
The district covers parts of Northeast Philadelphia, PA and part of Montgomery County, PA.
Since Lawrence Coughlin, a Republican, retired in 1993 after 24 years in the House the district has been represented by a Democrat except for the years 1995-1999.
Nationally the Republican Party considered this Congressional seat to be un-winnable.
Allyson Schwartz, Democrat incumbent
Experience: She has stood for office plenty of times and is a former State Senator. Also she opened a women's health clinic in Philadelphia in the 1970s. The clinic provided abortions and artificial insemination for lesbian couples.
This is the first time that she is standing for re-election.
War Chest: raised $2.5 million.
Raj Bhakta, Republican challenger
Experience: 2 DUIs (one more than the President!), reality TV contestant (The Apprentice, that's very Republican). To show how insecure the US-Mexico border is, he marched a brass band and an elephant (hey, that's Republican too) across it. This got him some free publicity on the cable "news" channels.
This is his first time running for Congress.
War Chest: raised $500,000.
With such a small war chest, Mr. Bhakta had to get some bang for his buck. His first round of automated phone calls featured the elephants and the border insecurity issue (at least he hoped that it would be an issue). However that really didn't get people's attention, to me it sounded like the circus was coming to town.
Bhakta's second automated phone call seemed to imply that Allyson Schwartz had personally performed abortions and featured a crying woman who claimed to be one of her "victims" (I thought Republicans rejected that whole victimization routine?). This one got people's attention however they also didn't care for it.
- Allyson Schwartz 143,109 votes (66%).
- Raj Bhakta 73,443 votes (34%).
No one seemed to pay much attention to Raj Bhakta and can you blame them? Mr. Bhakta seemed to focus on national issues. Someone should tell him the first rule of politics - all politics is local. Also the impact of his border insecurity issue was lessened when President Bush approved the building of the fence between us and Mexico.
I mean really, was this the best the Republicans could do? Was the Congressional seat really un-winnable or un-winnable because they neglected it? It just seems to me that a rookie Congressional Representative standing for her first re-election should not win in such a landslide. This district is usually decided by a few percentage points of the votes, what happened this time?