Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: May 1998, 9th full term.

Born: April 7, 1945, Philadelphia

Home: Philadelphia

Education: St. Thomas More H.S.

Professional Career: Carpenter; Real estate salesman; Philadelphia dpty. mayor for labor, 1984-87; Chmn., Philadelphia Dem. Party, 1986-present; Legis. rep., Metro. Regional Cncl. of Carpenters & Joiners, 1987-98; Lecturer, U. of PA, 1997-present.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: married (Debra) , 2 children

Democrat Robert Brady, elected in 1998, is the personification of Philadelphia’s old-fashioned urban politics, and is one of the few remaining white ethnic party bosses in big-city America. He worked behind the scenes to help his city land the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Brady grew up in Overbrook Park in West Philadelphia, with an Italian mother and an Irish father who was a policeman. After high school, he went to work as a carpenter, quickly rose through the ranks of the carpenters’ union, and remains a dues-paying member. He entered politics in 1967, at age 22, when the local ward leader wouldn’t replace a burned-out streetlight. Brady was elected to the 34th Ward Democratic Executive Committee, and in 1980 he was elected ward leader. In 1986, he became chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party.

He depicts himself as a roll-up-your-sleeves guy who represents working-class voters, and says he’s proud to be the boss of what he calls the nation’s largest big-city machine—or, as he calls it, an “organization.” Brady is known for making “arrangements” with others—“They’re always arrangements, never deals,” he insists—and he has been chairman for more than a quarter century. “Governors come and go, mayors come and go, but he’s the party chair,” Ed Rendell, a former Philly mayor and Pennsylvania governor, told Politico.

In November 1997, Democratic Rep. Thomas Foglietta, a veteran of South Philly politics, became ambassador to Italy, and Brady ran for the seat. The district’s ward leaders determined the Democratic nomination for the special election and they favored Brady. With the endorsement of many black leaders and a strong Election Day organization, he won the special election with 74% of the vote. The same year he married his wife, Deb, a former Eagles cheerleader who later took a position on the city’s housing authority board.

After his election to the House, Brady’s focus remained back home. “Ninety-five percent of my day is not Congress,” he once said. He mediated a local teachers’ strike in 2000, and he sought common ground between the mayor and City Council on a deal for two new stadiums. In 2009, he helped settle a transit strike that plagued the city’s traffic for a week; a year later, he worked to end a 28-day walkout by staffers at Temple University Hospital. His ties to City Hall and to local unions gave him credibility with both sides.Brady worked to resolve local intra-party conflicts. After he helped rescue Philadelphia’s annual bike race in January 2013, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky wrote: “If anyone in Philadelphia is Mr. Democrat, it is Big Bob. … He’s been called a fixer, but I think of him as a peacemaker, a problem-solver, a blue-collar realist with iron pants.”

Brady has a liberal voting record and keeps a low profile in Washington. For “the most powerful man in Philadelphia,” Philadelphia magazine once wrote, “Washington gas-bagging is not his thing.” He did, however, permit a camera crew to follow him around in November 2012 for a proposed reality TV show based on his exploits. “What I love about Brady is, he’s the most honest guy about his political manipulations that I’ve ever met,” Larry Platt, who came up with the idea, told The Daily News. His initiatives reflect his local orientation. He boasts of once refusing to take a phone call from President Bill Clinton because he was busy dealing with a woman asking if he could send someone to fix her toilet. He says he decided that he was in favor of abortion rights after asking his mother. His loyalty to unions led him to buck environmentalists and most Democrats to vote for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have found the perfect job for him. Brady became chairman of the House Administration Committee, the so-called “Mayor of Capitol Hill” who oversees operations of the House and doles out favors like choice office space. He helped get a bill through the House in July 2009 to honor African-Americans who had been slave laborers during the original construction of the Capitol building, and the next year joined Pelosi on a House staff diversity initiative.

He stayed on as the panel’s ranking Democrat when Republicans gained control of the House in 2011. Two years later, he began making calls to other leading local Democrats about coming together for the sake of hosting the 2016 convention. In February 2015, the Democratic National Committee picked the City of Brotherly Love over New York and Columbus, Ohio. “Did Bob Brady raise a lot of money? No, I raised the most money,” Rendell told Politico. “Did he do any work to put the bid together? No. But without Bob Brady bringing us all together and saying, ‘Come on guys, let’s roll,’ we never would have been here.”

Brady ran for Philadelphia mayor in the May 2007 primary. He joined the field late and had significant opposition, including from three veteran local black officials who had operated largely outside Brady’s organization—U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, state Rep. Dwight Evans, and former City Councilman Michael Nutter. Brady’s platform was standard fare, including a call for more open government, safer streets, improved schools, and lower taxes. Democratic ward leaders endorsed him in overwhelming numbers but with varying enthusiasm. And his campaign ran into an unusual stumbling block: a lawsuit seeking to remove Brady from the ballot because he did not include his union pension on a candidate disclosure form. Brady revealed in court that his pension benefits were accruing as though he was working a full work week, a curiosity, given the fact that he was serving in Congress. He paid nearly $20,000 in fines for violating the city’s campaign finance laws. And he finished a distant third in the primary, with 15% of the vote.

In Philadelphia’s Byzantine politics, Brady’s weak performance—he even lost his home ward in Overbrook—raised questions about his political vulnerability. There was talk of a 2008 primary challenge to his House seat from an African-American candidate, but it never materialized. He was unopposed in 2010 after his would-be GOP challenger, tea party activist Pia Varma, was removed from the ballot for insufficient valid signatures on her nominating petitions. She accused Republicans of colluding with Brady to keep her off the ballot, a charge the city GOP chairman denied. Brady took 85% of the vote in 2012 against Republican John Featherman, who released a campaign video featuring a nude actress purporting to tell “the naked truth” about Brady. Two years later, he won with 83% over Republican Megan Rath.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4731

(202) 225-0088

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 102
Washington, DC 20515-3801

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4731

(202) 225-0088

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 102
Washington, DC 20515-3801

DISTRICT OFFICE

(215) 389-4627

(215) 389-4636

1907-09 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148-2116

DISTRICT OFFICE

(215) 389-4627

(215) 389-4636

1907-09 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148-2116

DISTRICT OFFICE

(610) 874-7094

(484) 816-0029

1350 Edgmont Avenue Suite 2575
Chester, PA 19013-3911

DISTRICT OFFICE

(610) 874-7094

(484) 816-0029

1350 Edgmont Avenue Suite 2575
Chester, PA 19013-3911

DISTRICT OFFICE

(215) 426-4616

(215) 426-7741

2630 Memphis Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125-2344

DISTRICT OFFICE

(215) 426-4616

(215) 426-7741

2630 Memphis Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125-2344

DISTRICT OFFICE

(267) 519-2252

(267) 519-2262

2637 East Clearfield Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134-5023

DISTRICT OFFICE

(267) 519-2252

(267) 519-2262

2637 East Clearfield Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134-5023

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

12518 Chilton Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(215) 214-7804

12518 Chilton Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Appropriations

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Education

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Environment

Govt Ops

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Gun Issues

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Health

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Housing

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Human Rights

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Immigration

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Labor

Stanley White
Chief of Staff

stan.white@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4731

Medicare

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Social Security

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Transportation

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Women

Eriade Williams
Legislative Director

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Robert Brady
Votes: 235,394
Percent: 84.95%
John Featherman
Votes: 41,708
Percent: 15.05%
2012 PRIMARY
Robert Brady
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Robert Brady
Votes: 149,944
Percent: 100.0%
2010 PRIMARY
Robert Brady
Votes: 48,505
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Robert Brady
Votes: 242,799
Percent: 90.76%
Mike Muhammad
Votes: 24,714
Percent: 9.24%
2008 PRIMARY
Robert Brady
Votes: 116,334
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (unopposed), 2008 (91%), 2006 (100%), 2004 (86%), 2002 (86%), 2000 (88%), 1998 (81%), 1998 special (74%)

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