Mayor Kenney on Thursday endorsed State Rep. Dwight Evans in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in the Democratic primary election.
That news piled onto a tough week for the 11-term congressman, who is scheduled to start his federal trial on corruption charges six days after the April 26 primary.
Fattah's latest campaign finance report, filed Sunday, showed that his legal bills continue to chew through his meager funds. And his son, Chaka "Chip" Jr., was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison in a bank fraud case unrelated to his father's legal troubles.
Kenney said he has a friendly relationship with Fattah and hopes the federal case "turns out well for him." Kenney, a former city councilman, cited his three-decades-long working relationship with Evans as the reason for his endorsement.
"I find him to be very thoughtful," Kenney said. "I find him to be a person who has never asked for anything for himself."
Fattah said the endorsement did not come as a surprise.
"I want to congratulate Dwight for gaining the support of the mayor and for the good launch of his campaign effort in general," Fattah said.
This is not the first time Fattah's legal problems coincided with Evans' political timing.
Evans, in his 18th term in the state House's 203rd District, announced his campaign in November while the congressman's son was on trial in federal court.
Fattah declined to comment on the timing of the news.
Evans on Thursday maintained his campaign tactic of strictly talking policy while repeatedly deflecting questions about Fattah's legal case.
"I'm going to talk about the kind of things I believe my constituents are most concerned with, education and jobs and what we're going to do with these communities," Evans said.
Evans said he met with Kenney's administration last week to talk about economic development in neighborhoods.
"So this fits with working together, building neighborhoods," he said of the endorsement. "He's looking for a good partner in Washington, D.C."
Evans helped lead a contingent of the politically powerful Northwest Coalition in a key endorsement for Kenney before the 2015 Democratic primary election for mayor.
Fattah backed State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, offering a fiery defense of his candidate from a church pulpit on the Sunday before the primary.
Evans' support of Kenney was seen as crucial to Kenney's success among black voters.
"I became something other than a white guy from South Philly," Kenney said when asked about the impact of the Northwest Coalition endorsement. "I became more of a global candidate, citywide."
Kenney won with more than 55 percent of the primary vote, which Evans on Thursday called "a resounding victory." Williams finished second in the six-candidate field with 26 percent.
Evans was also an early supporter of Tom Wolf, who easily won the 2014 Democratic primary election for governor and then unseated the Republican incumbent, Tom Corbett. Wolf's could soon be another powerful political endorsement for Evans.
"The governor, besides me being a strong supporter of him, is a very good personal friend," Evans said.
Joe Shafer, a spokesman for Wolf's campaign, on Thursday said the governor has "tremendous respect" for Evans as a friend and elected official.
"We'll have more to say about endorsements in the weeks ahead," Shafer said in an email.
Fattah, indicted in July on charges of racketeering, bank fraud, bribery, and money laundering, has had serious problems raising money for his campaign. A federal judge last week refused to let his defense attorneys quit after they complained about not getting paid.
Fattah's criminal charges are linked to what prosecutors call an illegal loan and scheme to repay it from his failed 2007 bid for mayor of Philadelphia.
Fattah came in fourth out of the five major candidates in the Democratic primary that year. Evans finished fifth in that race.
Evans now leads in fund-raising for the five-candidate primary for the Second District, which covers parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County.
Evans filed a campaign finance report Sunday, showing $303,012 on hand as of Dec. 31. That included a $1,000 donation from Kenney.
It also includes $10,800 from Wolf and his wife, Frances, who each donated the $2,700 maximum allowed for federal campaigns for the primary and general elections.
Fattah reported having $7,673 in the bank as of Dec. 31 but listed more than twice that amount in legal debts.
State Rep. Brian Sims reported having $181,320 in the bank as of Dec. 31. Ward leader Dan Muroff listed $208,569 and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon had $16,169.