Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tom Shakely & Friends Endorse Raj

On June 19, conservative bloggers Tom Shakely and Friends officially endorsed Raj Peter Bhakta. Their endorsement brands Raj as “living example of the kind of politician our Founding Fathers believed would best guide their great experiment in democratic representation.”

In deciding to endorse Raj Bhakta I decided simply to endorse the better candidate. That Bhakta is running as a Republican and Schwartz as a Democrat shouldn’t really be an over-arching concern in anyone’s decision. Issues like immigration reform and the environment are major issues upon which most will be concerned as November approaches. Raj is committed to strong, sensible immigration reform and effective border security.

The transparency and the legitimacy that comes with it are really what Raj Bhakta offers, irrespective of specific political concerns. With Bhakta representing Pennsylvania’s 13th district - my home district - Pennsylvanians and Americans will be the better.

It is time to elect the kind of politician whom America was meant to have: a dedicated American reformer whose purpose in Washington is clear to both him and his constituents. It is time to support Raj Bhakta to represent Pennylvania’s 13th district.

"It Used To Be A Greater City"

Raj presses crime issue in the Northeast Times.

Congressional candidate Raj Bhakta is inviting the community to attend upcoming "Save the Northeast" rallies.

Bhakta, the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.), held a news conference Friday afternoon at Frankford and Cottman avenues to discuss the rising crime rates in the Northeast.

The issue of crime will be a big part of the rallies, which will be scheduled soon. The campaign will also unveil a "Save the Northeast" bus.

Campaign workers have been standing on Roosevelt Boulevard and near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge with signs reading, "Honk to Save the Northeast."

Bhakta, a star on The Apprentice 2, decided to press the "Save the Northeast" theme after conversations with voters.

At the news conference, the challenger cited statistics compiled by the University of Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Information System project. He displayed charts that showed sharp increases in violent crime in Oxford Circle from 1998 to 2005 and aggravated assaults with guns in Mayfair and Oxford Circle during the same period.

Bhakta blamed Mayor John Street for resisting efforts to hire more police officers, adding that he thinks there is a manpower shortage in the Northeast police divisions.

"Northeast Philadelphia doesn’t get its fair share," he said.

The 30-year-old Republican, a Fort Washington resident who spent the first few years of his life in Northwood, also attributed the rising crime rates to new residents who, in his view, don’t value safety, cleanliness and civic-mindedness.

"John Street and Allyson Schwartz are very happy about that," he said.

Citywide, Bhakta pointed to statistics showing that Philadelphia’s rate of murders, rapes and aggravated assaults with guns is far higher than the national average.

"Philadelphia is a great city. It used to be a greater city," he said.

Bhakta, whose campaign is being filmed for a documentary, criticized Schwartz for staying silent when Street proposed cuts to the fire, police and recreation departments and temporarily closed the local mini-City Hall.

"I would stand up to John Street," he said.

The Schwartz campaign fired back, attacking the challenger for his two drunken-driving arrests, failed entrepreneurial ventures and missed votes.

"Raj has had multiple run-ins with the law, repeated business failures, and a history of not voting — the only achievement he has to stand on is having been voted off a reality TV show," said Rachel Magnuson, a spokeswoman for Schwartz.

"Compare that to Congresswoman Schwartz, someone who Northeast residents know they can count on. Allyson has fought for tough-on-crime bills, and she has delivered in her first term by securing millions to strengthen and secure Northeast Philadelphia, including $3.2 million to make Roosevelt Boulevard safer."

If elected, Bhakta would support increased federal funding for police officers.

He’d use the dollars that are being appropriated by the Department of Homeland Security to areas — such as Alaska, Montana and Nebraska — that he doesn’t view as security risks.

The candidate recalled when President Bill Clinton hired 100,000 new police officers after taking office in 1993.

"We need that same sort of action," he said. ••

These Are the Facts and They Are... Undisputed

Northeast News Gleaner recaps Raj's press conference. During this “Save the Northeast” event, Raj highlighted this area’s rising crime rates.

Crime has skyrocketed in the Northeast, according to 13th Congressional Candidate Raj Peter Bhakta (R).

During a press conference at the corner of Frankford and Cottman avenues last week, Bhakta, who is challenging Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-13), revealed a study done by the University of Pennsylvania which shows a dramatic increase in crime throughout Northeast Philadelphia within the last seven years.

"I have seen, I have heard, and I have watched with my own eyes this situation develop," he said.

Charts provided by Bhakta's campaign displayed an "800 percent" increase in Aggravated Assaults with Guns in Mayfair. The statistics showed an increase from six in 1998 to 37 in 2005.

"The numbers are more shocking than one might expect," Bhakta said. "The numbers speak clear and without bias."

The website for the study, www.cml.upenn.edu, provides even more detail for every neighborhood in the Northeast. For instance, aggravated assaults with guns in Oxford Circle increased from 15 in 1998 to 69 in 2005. Those assaults also increased in Frankford from 38 in 1998 to 102 in 2005. All serious incidents against persons, which include robbery and aggravated assault, increased in Bustleton from 31 in 1998 to 137 in 2005. In Holmesburg those serious incidents increased from 111 in 1998 to 216 in 2005.

"The facts are appalling," Bhakta said.

To quell the violence Bhakta wants to increase federal funding for Philadelphia's Police.

"What we need to do in Congress is provide funding for local jurisdictions that are under attack," he said.

But, in order to ensure that the funding reaches Northeast neighborhoods, Bhakta says he will stand up to Mayor Street and his "design to destroy Northeast Philadelphia."

"It's a shame that the victims are the residents of Northeast Philadelphia," he said.

Bhakta believes the Northeast "doesn't get its fair share."

"It pays a preponderance of the taxes in the area," he said, "doesn't get any money back and doesn't get any help from our Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz."

So, Bhakta has begun a "Save the Northeast" campaign, which will include a "Save the Northeast" bus and "Save the Northeast" rallies in the months leading up to the November election.

"This is a community that is having all the money sucked out of it to run City Hall with no money coming back into it," he said. "It's part of a direct plan to bleed Northeast Philadelphia."

The Centrist Blog Endorses Raj

On June 10, The Centrist Blog officially endorsed Raj Peter Bhakta. Their “happy endorsement” labeled Raj “a political natural” who is “worth the vote.”

Once in a great while they seem to appear out of nowhere. In baseball, he would be called a natural. [See the Robert Redford movie The Natural for a refresher.] In politics they are sometimes called "can't miss".

Thus, this morning we have come to know a political "Natural". We were quite taken with this young man's presence, confidence, and message. Raj Peter Bhakta calls himself a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. He is running for the US House of Representatives from the 13th Congressional District (Montgomery/NE Philadelphia County), a seat currently held by Democrat Allyson Schwartz. I encourage you to visit his website and get to know this young man. He will undoubtedly be a figure on the political scene for quite a while to come.

I am not a resident of his district, but if I were, this is a man I would vote for. Read his issues, listen to the Flash presentation on his first page. This is a no-nonsense, reform-minded candidate. He is more than worth the look, he is worth the vote!

Raj Criticizes Security Cut

From the Northeast Times:

Republican congressional candidate Raj Bhakta is describing as "indefensible" the cut in funding Pennsylvania received from the federal government to address terrorism threats.

The state’s share dropped from $81.9 million last year to $49 million this year. Philadelphia’s portion went from $22.8 million to $19.5 million.

Bhakta, who is challenging Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.), noted that the Philadelphia area is large and has a busy port, military installations and a nuclear power plant.

"If Philadelphia is not at risk, I don’t know who is," he said.

Bhakta wants more money to hire police officers and upgrade technology for cops, firefighters and other emergency responders.

"Philadelphia is essentially being ignored by the federal government," he said.

The candidate said the Department of Homeland Security isn’t prioritizing its resources, pointing out that places like Kentucky, North Carolina and Nebraska have received funding increases.

"Philadelphia certainly faces a greater terrorist threat than Omaha," he said.

Where, Oh Where Is Allyson Schwartz?

Northeast News Gleaner recaps Raj's call for debates.

Republican candidate Raj Bhakta (R) has challenged incumbent U.S. Rep. Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-13) to a series of debates.

Bhakta, a former contestant on the television show 'The Apprentice,' accepted an invitation to debate on 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart. Schwartz, however, declined - wishing to keep the debates in the district instead of on TV.

"You wonder, why wouldn't somebody want to debate their opponent?" Bhakta said. "Either, they are afraid that they are going to look worse, which I would if I were her, or, you are just so full of contempt for the voters that you figure you are above that and they will vote for you anyway."

Now, Bhakta suggests a series of 12 debates, six in Montgomery County and six in Northeast Philadelphia.

"We want to get out and take questions from the voters," he said. "I have nothing to be afraid of."

Calls to Schwartz's office were not returned before deadline.

While both candidates have said they want to debate, the specific details of where and when have yet to be ironed out.

"Anytime, anyplace, I'll debate," Bhakta said. He even purposed one for the fourth of July.

"Her vision for America's future, on the day America was born, versus my own," he said.

"My issues, quietly clearly, are how do we deal with the big issues of the country and the big issues of the area and Northeast Philadelphia," Bhakta said, "which are rising crime, declining services, a mayor who's trying to destroy Northeast Philadelphia."

As his grassroots campaign continues, Bhakta gains confidence.

"Meeting with the people and talking with the people, you realize what makes this country great," he said. "It gives me a lot of confidence when I'm out there and talking to people because I realize how very poorly represented they people."

Bhakta wants to launch a movement to "save the Northeast." "It needs some saving," he said.

His campaign is compiling crime statistics for the Northeast that show a "quintupling of crime." Bhakta says that over the past four years crime in "most areas" has increased four fold.

"That is ridiculous," he said. "It's unbelievable. A community can only hold up to that kind of attack for so long. Take a ride down Schwartz Street and it looks like that - four times as much crime."