The announcement, which was made on "The Politics Hour" on WPFW 89.3FM, is a big grab for Biddle, who has been battered by the memory of the early support he received from D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown and Mayor Vince Gray, both embroiled in various scandals. Biddle, himself an outsider when he was selected by the D.C. Democratic State Committee to fill the seat vacated by Brown, has been painted by some of his challengers as an inside guy unable to provide the independent oversight needed on the council.
Faced with a well-funded opponent in Vincent Orange (who polled best of the nine candidates in a recent citywide survey), Biddle has recently started playing up his independent bona fides. In an ad in this week's issue of the Current (the newspaper chain endorsed him last week), Biddle says that he "hasn't spent his time hanging around the DC government making political deals and lobbying with cronies," a not-too-suble jab at Orange. The ad also notes that Biddle has been endorsed by Ward 3's Mary Cheh and Ward 4's Muriel Bowser, but says nothing of Gray and Brown's early support. In mid-March, Biddle asked that Brown fully refund D.C. taxpayers for the money spent acquiring a luxury SUV for his use.
Catania, a former Republican, has long been an aggressive and independent-minded member of the D.C. Council. (He faced only token opposition in his 2010 re-election bid.) Most recently, Catania has doggedly gone after Gray administration officials for their hiring practices and inflated salaries. Catania and Biddle recently worked together on comprehensive legislation responding to last year's South Capitol Street killings; Biddle chairs the council's Special Committee on School Safety and Truancy, one of six elements of the legislation.
So far, Biddle has been endorsed by D.C. for Democracy, the Current newspapers, D.C. Young Democrats, Democrats for Education Reform, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Leadership for Educational Equity, SEIU State Council, and UNITE HERE Local 25. Orange has claimed the Ward 8 Democrats, Jacque Patterson, Washington, D.C. Building & Construction Trades Council, AFSCME Council 20, and the Metro D.C. AFL-CIO.
Update, 12:15 p.m.: That endorsement apparently didn't go as smoothly as planned: