The big news this morning was certainly the Clarus poll showing Vincent Orange with a huge lead in terms of support in the April 26 At-Large Special Election. Below is the relevant breakdown of support for each of the candidates:
In just about every category, Orange wins. To be fair, he's been around for a while, and this poll could well have simply tested name recognition (though the question did specifically ask the respondent who they'd vote for). Additionally, as many folks have noted, only registered voters were polled, and this is a Special Election -- the dynamics of turn out will be very different than with a standard election.
There are plenty of undecided voters in the whiter parts of the city, which may explain Biddle and Mara's ad buys in the Current newspapers that I wrote about yesterday. Still, with both Mara and Biddle fighting for those white voters, they're likely to split them. Which, looking at the numbers, only helps Orange.
True, this poll may not be worth a damn come Election Day. But everyone knows that this type of stuff helps, even if only psychologically. Orange can now claim the title of frontrunner, and that never hurts when it comes to money and support. (Not that's he's lacking in funds, though.) Of course, should Biddle or Mara pull off a victory, well, then the storyline will be that they overcame a 22-point deficit.
It's Orange's race to lose, I think.
Today the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) of Washington, D.C. published its rankings on the candidates for the April 26 At-Large Special Election. The rankings come out before pretty much every local election and serve as the defining statement on where candidates for public office stand on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues.
On a scale from -10 to +10, Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle and Bryan Weaver topped out at +5.5, followed by Patrick Mara and Alan Page (both at +4), Vincent Orange (+3.5), and Josh Lopez (+2.5). Dorothy Douglas, Tom Brown and Arkan Haile didn't respond to the GLAA questionnaire, so they were judged solely on their records -- each received an even 0.
The press release is below:
Democratic Councilmember Sekou Biddle, who was appointed to the seat on an interim basis by the Democratic State Committee, earned a +5.5. His questionnaire was generally positive but offered limited substance and was often vague. His record includes support as a school board member of comprehensive health education standards inclusive of sexual orientation. Since joining the Council he has reached out on transgender discrimination issues.
Democratic challenger Bryan Weaver had a fair questionnaire whose highlight was this statement in his answer on marriage equality: "Our rights as Americans do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being Americans. We're elected not to follow but to lead.... We're elected to represent our constituents when they're right, and to vote our consciences regardless of whether our constituents are right." As Chair of the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Weaver voted in support of marriage equality and in opposition to an anti-gay ballot measure. He also wrote a strong letter to the Board of Election and Ethics, copying all ANC commissioners in the city, in response to anti-gay Ward 5 activist Bob King.
Republican challenger Patrick Mara, currently a member of the State Board of Education, discussed his own record but offered limited substance on the issues. His record includes lobbying Republican members of Congress in defense of marriage equality, for which GLAA has publicly praised him. Unfortunately, he has also encouraged Congress to impose a voucher program on the District funding religious schools that are not subject to the protections of the D.C. Human Rights Act.
Statehood-Green challenger Alan Page was generally supportive on the issues but often showed a weak understanding of them, especially in HIV testing. He admits to having no relevant record.
Democratic challenger Vincent Orange, a former Ward 5 councilmember, agreed with GLAA on every issue, but provided no substance to his answers. He received record points for his recent pro-gay efforts, which included support for marriage equality as Democratic National Committeeman. GLAA credits him for moving from his earlier opposition to marriage equality toward a position of support.
Democratic challenger Joshua Lopez was generally positive but offered little substance. He had only this to say on his record: "Featured speaker for Latinos en Accion, a Latino LGBT group. Supporter of the annual Gay pride parade and high heel race."
GLAA rates candidates on a scale of -10 to +10, based on their answers to our questionnaire and their record on behalf of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. The questionnaire addresses a variety of issues on marriage and family, public health, public safety, human rights, youth, and protection for LGBT consumers and businesses.
Though Orange didn't score highest, he's certainly shown the most progress over the years. In 2006, when he ran for mayor, he didn't even bother to answer the questionnaire, leaving GLAA to rank him on record alone for a -2.5. (Orange did drop relative to his 2010 run for the D.C. Council chairmanship, though, when he stood at 4.5.) Whether or not Orange had a real change of heart or simply recognized that supporting GLBT causes is smart politics has remained a question for many, though.
Last week Biddle narrowly received the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club's endorsement, besting Orange in a second round of voting.
Vincent Orange raised $0 through the January 31 reporting period. Through March 10, though, he took in a shocking $191,000, besting his competition by close to $150,000. Not only did he raise way more money, but he hasn't spent a dime, leaving him with the full $191,000 to carry him through to the April 26 At-Large Special Election.
The development has to worry the campaign of Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle, which raised a respectable $47,000 but is only left with $15,000 on hand. (There seems to be a mistake in Biddle's report, though. It claims that he's raised $100,000 so far and spent $62,000, so in theory he should have just south of $40,000 to work with. Regardless, Orange still has way more.)
Biddle is the presumed front runner, enjoying support from the city's political establishment. But Orange, who has run citywide campaigns before and served two terms on the D.C. Council, still enjoys name recognition and plenty of contacts to draw contributions from. (And he must have really worked the phones -- a surprising amount of his contributions are $1,000.) And, given the events of recent weeks involving D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown and Mayor Vince Gray, being a pick of the establishment isn't something to boast about. Orange's harsh criticism of Brown's personal finances during the council chair campaign last year might be looking better now than they did then.
Of course, Orange hasn't really been doing much campaigning, but $191,000 goes a long ways in just over a month. If he simply rents enough buses and pays enough staff on the day of, he could easily drive turnout -- and grab a huge chunk of votes for himself in the process.
Might this be the mighty return of Vincent Orange, the very man Biddle beat in the January D.C. Democratic State Committee appointment process? It may well be.
In other campaign finance news (all the totals are here), Republican Pat Mara raised $29,000 and has that amount on-hand, Bryan Weaver took in $21,000 and has $20,000 on-hand, Josh Lopez collected $16,000 and has $19,000 on-hand, Jacque Patterson drew in $15,000 and has $18,000 on-hand, Arkan Haile raised $4,000 and has $11,000 on-hand, and Alan Page accounted for $749 and has $546 on-hand.
The money is rolling in, literally. Below are the tallies for March 10 campaign finance reports as they come in. I'll do a little more analysis tomorrow after I have a chance to comb through each report. Sounds fun, right?
Arkan Haile (.PDF)
- Raised, January 31: $7,845
- Raised, March 10: $4,235
- Total Raised: $11,980
- Total Spent: $3,479.86
- Cash on Hand: $11,376.03
Patrick Mara (.PDF)
- Raised, January 31: $2,650
- Raised, March 10: $29,544
- Total Raised: $32,194
- Total Spent: $2,816.99
- Cash on Hand: $29,376.97
Two candidates for the April 26 At-Large Special Election got themselves nice profiles in recent days:
- Samuel M. Gebru got to know Arkan Haile, an Eritrean immigrant running for the At-Large seat.
- Borderstan interviewed Republican Patrick Mara, finding out that Mara is a regular at Columbia Heights watering hole Wonderland.
Both are worth a read.
This morning I quickly spoke with Tom Lindenfeld, a campaign strategist for Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle, hoping to pick his brain about the challenges filed against Bryan Weaver, Jacque Patterson and Patrick Mara on Monday.
Lindenfeld defended the campaign's decision to file the challenges, noting that in general, only 55 to 60 percent of all signatures on nominating petitions end up being valid. (Shadow Representative Mike Panetta, who has had to collect signatures for himself, tweeted as much on Monday.) Calling it a "basic numbers game," Lindenfeld said that most campaigns strive to turn in at least twice the required number of signatures to avoid being knocked off the ballot. (Biddle turned in 8,800.)
Speaking directly about Weaver, Lindenfeld simply said that the "chances that Weaver has 3,000 good ones [signatures] is not possible." As for Mara, the sole Republican in the race, Lindenfeld claimed that he used paid petition circulators, which he says don't often produce good results. Mara vehemently denied the allegation. (Update: The D.C. GOP says it paid a few people to collect signatures, but most of Mara's signatures came from volunteers.) Both Biddle's and Lawrence Guyot's challenge of Mara's petitions cite a number of circulators, which would disqualify every signature on the page they handled. (Each page contains 20 signatures.)
Lindenfeld also confirmed that the challenges were prepared by Ben Soto, a former campaign treasurer for Adrian Fenty and early Biddle supporter. Though Biddle campaign treasurer Bandele McQueen actually submitted the challenges to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, it's Soto that's doing the challenging.
- Biddle's challenge of Weaver
- Biddle's challenge of Patterson, Part 1; Part 2
- Biddle's challenge of Mara, Part 1; Part 2; Part 3
- Edmondson's challenge of Patterson
- Guyot's challenge of Mara, Part 1; Part 2; Part 3
The Post and the City Paper have the story -- Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle's campaign has chosen to challenge signatures on the nominating petitions submitted by Jacque Patterson, Bryan Weaver and Patrick Mara. A separate challenge to Mara was filed by a supporter of Josh Lopez, while a possible challenge of Vincent Orange's nominating petitions by Biddle was pulled back at the last minute.
Weaver and Patterson are most at risk -- each campaign submitted between 3,400 and 3,600 signatures, leaving them little wiggle room should some of the challenges succeed. (A total of 3,000 valid signatures is needed to get on the April 26 ballot.) Mara should be fine; he submitted around 6,000 signatures, begging the question as to why his petitions were even challenged. Arkan Haile, Dorothy Douglas, Alan Page, Tom Brown, Lopez, Orange, and Biddle emerged from the 10-day challenge period unscathed and will appear on the ballot.
There was some debate as to the way and wisdom of Biddle's challenges. On the one hand, he looks like a bit of a bully for challenging Weaver, Patterson and Mara -- especially since he raised about $30,000 more than all three combined through January 31. Moreover, that it was his campaign treasurer that did the challenging makes it impossible for Biddle to maintain at least some distance and plausible deniability about the decision. On the other hand, this is politics, and things are bound to get ugly. Additionally, if a candidate doesn't have the signatures, well, then they shouldn't be on the ballot, now should they?
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics has until March 15 to issue final rulings on challenges. The candidates then have until March 18 to file any appeals with the D.C. courts.
After the jump, a Twitter timeline of the announcement and some of the ensuing debate.
Update: Keith Ivey accurately points out in the comments: "You skipped the second challenge to Patterson, from Alonzo Edmondson (who successful challenged Calvin Gurley’s ballot petitions for last year’s Democratic primary). Not sure which candidate Edmondson might be allied with." That means that both Mara and Patterson face two challenges.
For anyone interested in how many nominating petitions each candidate turned in, the District's Board of Elections and Ethics was more than happy to indulge. Each page continues 20 signatures, so with some basic math you get rough approximations as to how many signatures each candidate gathered.
By Tim Craig, The Washington Post (link)
Eleven candidates are running in the April 26 special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, setting up a noisy citywide campaign.
Last month, the D.C. Democratic State Committee selected former school board member Sekou Biddle to temporarily fill the vacancy created by the election of Kwame R. Brown (D) as council chairman. But candidates from any party or none can appear on the ballot in the special election.
Biddle and 10 others met the Wednesday deadline to submit the signatures of at least 3,000 voters. The Board of Elections and Ethics has two weeks to determine whether the signatures are valid.
Tadias Magazine (link)
We were recently contacted by the campaign of Arkan Haile, a candidate for the vacant at-large D.C. City Council seat, which will be decided through a special election on April 26. He is among at least 17 candidates running for the seat, which became vacant Jan. 2 when Council member Kwame Brown (D-At-Large) was sworn in as the new City Council Chair. The Eritrean-born attorney is seeking the support of the Ethiopian-American community, one of the largest African immigrant populations in Washington D.C.
“I know my personal story is not ordinary for a local politician. Frankly, I hope nothing about me is ordinary where politics is concerned,” he says. “We can’t afford the usual politics – not in our schools, not in our neighborhoods and not in our elected officials. That’s why I’m running as an independent, beholden to no one but the people, ready to find creative solutions and prepared to make hard choices.”