Could this Silicon Valley startup oust Congressman Chaka Fattah? - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 4, 2015 10:09 am

Could this Silicon Valley startup oust Congressman Chaka Fattah?

Crowdpac thinks it can crowdfund a worthy challenger to the 11-term congressman as his legal troubles keep piling up.
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) wearing his Google Glass.

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) wearing his Google Glass.

(Courtesy photo)

A Silicon Valley startup is looking to spark a political fight in our backyard.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) has been dogged by legal troubles for the past eight years — the feds appear to be building a corruption case against him — but the 11-term congressman hasn’t had any problems getting re-elected. Fattah hasn’t faced a close race since he was elected to Congress more than two decades ago. Now, a venture-backed startup called Crowdpac is looking to stir the pot, the Daily News reported.

Crowdpac created a site that names 18 potential Fattah challengers for next year’s primary. It’s the big feature on Crowdpac’s site: “If Congressman Fattah gets boxed out, which candidates will rebound?” it reads.

Users can vote and show their support for any candidate on the site. They can also donate money to a potential campaign. Kind of like how Kickstarter doesn’t release the money until a campaign reaches its goal, Crowdpac will only release the money if a candidate declares his or her candidacy.

The Daily News’ Will Bender explained why Crowdpac’s tactic is so crafty:

Crowdpac created the candidate field for the Fattah race, but soon anyone will be able to create a page and add candidates, similar to the way Wikipedia works.

“Anyone can stir s— up,” [Crowdpac political director Liz] Jaff said.

Potential candidates cannot remove their names from the pages. That’s by design: It provides them cover from party bosses and other political figures who otherwise might snuff out any competition to incumbents like Fattah.

Political machines typically don’t like competition. This is a way around the machine.

Read the full story

Crowdpac also built sites that aggregate and visualize data about last month’s Philly primary. This visualization that follows the money behind the City Council race is especially cool.

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Political director, Liz Jaff, was in town for the May primary, according to a Crowdpac spokeswoman. Jaff is based in Washington, D.C.

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