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The stark, white Wynne Ballroom was dotted with red, white and blue balloons. But as a smaller-than-expected crowd waited for the arrival of State Senator Chaka Fattah, even balloons could not brighten the atmosphere. For the first time in his five-week campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, the outlook for the University alum was bleak. At 11:15 last night, the young politician in Armani glasses walked to the podium to deliver his concession speech flanked by advisors and friends. "Our campaign was centered around a set of priorities that need to be challenged," Fattah said, referring to the fundamental issues of his campaign -- housing, children's services and urban aid. But even as Fattah conceded the election to fill the congressional seat left open by the resignation of William Gray, he was looking to the future. "Losing in politics is often a step to success," he said. And although the young state senator spoke seriously about the issues of his campaign, the most frequently asked question in the Wynne Ballroom last night was, "Will you run again?" While Fattah would neither confirm nor deny his intention to run in April when the race for representative in the 2nd Congressional District will begin again, he implied that his political career -- already a decade old -- was just beginning. "I am eligible for any office except president and United States senator because I am not yet 35 years old," he said, grinning. "In a few weeks I will be 35." Fattah, a Democrat who ran under the Consumer Party banner, lost to Democrat Lucien Blackwell by 11 percentage points, edged out Independent John White and finished well ahead of Republican Nadine Bulford. Members of Fattah's organization said he was in the difficult position of being a third-party candidate in a district dominated by one major party -- the Democrats. According to State Representative Vincent Hughes, Blackwell had the decisive advantage of running with the Democratic Party's endorsement. "The Big D lever, you can't beat it," said Hughes. But Fattah said the strong showing he and other losing candidates made demonstrated that the big lever voters pulled to choose the Democratic slate was not an effective tool. At the same time, however, he said that as of 9:01 this morning, he will again be a registered Democrat. Fattah added that his campaign demonstrated what issues Blackwell will have to take to Capitol Hill. "It's not important who the messenger is, but what the message is," Fattah said. As friends, staff and supporters grooved to the beat of rap music in the sparsely filled Wynne Ballroom, Fattah removed himself from the stress of the finished campaign and reflected on less chaotic times. "My favorite thing about college was the parties in High Rise South," he said.

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