Longtime Democratic state Rep. James Roebuck, Jr., will face a primary challenger in his own backyard next year.
The incumbent, now in his 16th term in office, will square off against former deputy city solicitor and progressive political newcomer Jeff Curry. In a statement announcing his candidacy, the Temple Law grad outlined his support for school funding, affordable health care and higher wages – while taking a thinly veiled shot at Roebuck’s long tenure in the 188th District.
“We must demand that our elected representatives fight for everyone in the 188th District. We have not had a fighter for a long time,” read a campaign press release announcing Curry’s candidacy. “There is no one who will work harder, listen to more voices, and look after everyone in this District than Jeff.”
The 72-year-old Roebuck has faced several tough primaries in recent years. He narrowly held onto his seat in 2012, staving off a well-funded rival, Fatimah Muhammad, an Ivy League-educated, openly bisexual Muslim candidate who ran on a school choice platform. Muhammad had connections to state Sen. Anthony Williams, who, in turn, was tightly linked to a series of pro-charter school billionaires from Philadelphia’s Main Line suburbs.
Roebuck later squared off in a 2014 primary against local businessman Algernong Allen.
Representing a diverse and left-leaning slice of West Philly, Roebuck has generally earned high marks from liberal groups for his votes in support of school funding, environmental protection and medical marijuana. However, many divisions in the 188th also came out strongly for progressive DA candidate Larry Krasner, who rankled many within the city’s traditional Democratic ward structure.
The state representative did not return a call for comment.