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Across the Schuylkill River, Sen. Larry Farnese, a Democrat representing South Philly and Center City, is also getting an intra-party challenge from Nikil Saval, the 37-year-old founder of grassroots activism group Reclaim Philadelphia. The group, which has powered multiple progressive wins, has links to both upstarts…Despite Farnese’s record, Saval’s campaign argues that the incumbent’s record isn’t the “bold leadership” the party needs, on everything from the Green New Deal to housing guarantees to union rights.

Progressive roots, progressive candidates

Philadelphia hopefuls Krajewski and Saval both previously worked for Reclaim Philadelphia. The grassroots group was founded in 2016 to “bring racial, gender and economic justice to the city of Philadelphia.”

The group played a big role in electing both progressive Democratic District Attorney Larry Krasner, but they haven’t hesitated to break from the party.

Despite backlash from the city’s powerful Democratic committee, Reclaim worked to elect Working Families’ Party Councilmember Kendra Brooks to an at-large seat on the city’s council.

Reclaim also previously backed Roebuck, which the incumbent noted. In an email, Sergio Cea, Reclaim’s West Philadelphia organizer, said that Krajewski won the support of 98 percent of the group during its endorsement vote.

Cea pointed to a split between Krajewski and Roebuck on their endorsement applications on the death penalty and pro-business tax credits. Roebuck supported both, while Krajewski was opposed.

“Reclaim is lucky to have had two qualified leaders seek our endorsement for the race in the 188th, but we believe that the leader with the boldest vision and the person most committed to our shared values should represent us,” Cea said. “That is why we are proud to endorse Rick Krajewski for State Representative in the 188th.”

Roebuck has faced three primaries in the past ten years according to Ballotpedia, winning all with a majority of the vote. But looking at outsider progressive runs for city offices last year, both Saval and Krawkewski have some reason for hope.

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