Philly's entire congressional delegation is skipping the inauguration — and we're the only big city to do so
Philadelphia is the only major city in the country where all three of its U.S. representatives say they will skip the inauguration.
Rep. Bob Brady, Rep. Dwight Evans, and Rep. Brendan Boyle, all Democrats who represent the 1st, 2nd, and 13th Districts, respectively, all said Monday night that they will not attend the inaguration of President-elect Donald Trump. They join a growing list of Democratic lawmakers who are staying home on Friday — the Washington Post's running list of boycotters now has more than 50 names.
But among the 10 biggest cities in the country, Philly is the only place whose entire federal delegation has said they'll stay home. That's partially due to demographics — all of our representatives are Democrats who won their seats this year by enormous margins, and Boyle ran unopposed. Here, Hillary Clinton got 82.3 percent of the vote.
(At least one state representative from Philadelphia is heading to Washington on Friday — State Rep. Martina White, a Republican who won Boyle's former district in a special election in 2015. In one of the wards she represents, Clinton squeaked by with 49 percent of the vote; in the other, Trump won with 51 percent. She said she was attending Trump's inauguration, like she attended Mayor Kenney's, "as a sign of respect for people's vote.")
Meanwhile, big cities like Houston and San Antonio sit deep in red country, and even liberal enclaves such as New York City, which is five times the size of Philadelphia and has 12 representatives, have at least one Republican congressperson. San Jose, California's three congressional representatives are all Democrats, too, but only one has said she won't be attending.
"You need to look at the historical aspect of Philadelphia — where things started in America," Evans said in a phone interview Tuesday. "We have the kind of city where, if we don't think something is right, we call it as we see it."
"[Lewis] thought it would be hypocritical to attend Bush's swearing-in because he doesn't believe Bush is the true elected president," the Post wrote, and added that several members of the Congressional Black Caucus had also stayed home.
Trump's furious retort on Twitter over Lewis's intention to boycott Friday's inauguration spurred dozens of Democrats to join the Atlanta congressman.
Sent over Martin Luther King Day weekend, Trump's tweet called the civil rights leader "all talk and no action." Evans said that was the last straw for him. He met Lewis for the first time last year, when the National Constitution Center awarded Lewis its annual Liberty Medal.
"He fought for freedom and justice, and we gave him that medal right out of Philadelphia," Evans said. "We embraced him and what he stands for."
Evans said he was concerned about reports of Russian hacking during the election, and over GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act — Temple University Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center sit in his district, and 193,000 of his constituents live in poverty, he said.
"Donald Trump spent eight years telling Barack Obama he was an illegitimate president. You can't have it both ways," Brady said. "We're Philadelphia, loyal to a fault, and Mr. Lewis is a dear friend."
"As has been said in the past, Donald Trump got five deferments from Vietnam and John Lewis had his head split open on the Edmund Pettus Bridge — so who's more valuable?" Kenney asked.
The mayor's comment referred to the bridge in Selma. Ala., where voting rights marchers were beaten by police in 1965.
"It's their right as Americans to express their First Amendment rights and to decline from attending something that they don't believe in," Kenney said of the local congressmen.