After a whole slew of endorsements have complicated an already unsettled race, the final days of the April 26 At-Large Special Election season have brought a new round of claims of support for the various candidates.
Patrick Mara seems to be on a roll, picking up the Examiner's Harry Jaffe and the Georgetown Dish's Beth Solomon today. Greater Greater Washington went for Bryan Weaver yesterday, further solidifying him as the candidate of the city's young urban set.
All of these varied endorsements make clear that the race won't be decided until polls close on April 26 -- and even then it will be close.
Today the Washington City Paper endorsed Bryan Weaver in a thoughtful and well-written editorial that examines each of the principal candidates in the April 26 At-Large Special Election. Of course, much like The Current (which liked Weaver but endorsed Biddle), the City Paper admits that it's unlikely that Weaver will win, but it endorses him anyhow.
This seems to be Weaver's most serious affliction in this campaign -- everyone seems to like him, but not enough people are convinced he's going to win. For some, that's reason enough to hold their noses and vote for another candidate; for others, you vote your hopes, not your expectations. It's a difficult debate for sure, but props to the City Paper for doing what The Current didn't -- siding with someone because it likes him, rather than because it likes him and thinks he can win. (The full text is after the jump.)
In related news, Vincent Orange seems to have picked up The Georgetowner's support, though it's not yet online.
As a summary, Pat Mara got The Washington Post, Biddle The Current, Weaver The City Paper, and Orange The Georgetowner. Biddle is well-liked by establishment progressive groups like the Sierra Club, Democracy for America and SEIU; Orange seems to be the go-to big-union candidate (AFL-CIO and Washington Teachers' Union); Mara's picked up Republicans (the D.C. GOP and Log Cabin Republicans) and big business (the D.C. Chamber of Commerce gave him $1,000); Weaver has attracted youth groups like the D.C. Youth PAC and D.C. College Democrats; and Lopez has a bunch of ANCs and activists on his side.
How much more unsettled and uncertain could the race look?
When Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle got The Current's endorsement a month ago, it wasn't what one would call ringing. The editorial board of the four-newspaper chain seemed most impressed with Bryan Weaver, but opted against him because, as it stated, it thought he simply wasn't going to win.
The Current seems to have recognized the errors of its ways, publishing a second endorsement of Biddle this week. Kinda. "Not wanting to encourage readers to cast a vote that would be for naught, we chose to get behind Mr. Biddle, whom we also found to be an extremely strong candidate," reads the re-endorsement. "We would like to reiterate that endorsement today."
The full text is after the jump.
With a week left until the April 26 At-Large Special Election, there's plenty of money floating around -- especially for Vincent Orange.
According to the eight-day pre-Special Election campaign finance reports, Orange leads the field in cash-on-hand, holding $134,000 for the final week. In the period from March 10 to April 18, he raised $70,000, adding to the $191,000 he reported in March. Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle raised more money in the final fundraising period -- around $74,000 -- but only has $24,000 left to spend.
Bryan Weaver took in $25,000 and has $30,000 on hand, Patrick Mara raised $28,000 and had $15,000 left, and Josh Lopez claimed just under $8,000 and has close to $20,000 to use through April 26. Alan Page trailed behind with close to $1,800 raised and just over $1,100 left until Election Day.
Combing through the spending section of the reports, it becomes clear that Orange is spreading his money around in lots of small payments to campaign workers. Of 131 listed campaign outlays, 88 went to campaign workers in payments from $60 to to $2,500, the latter of which went to campaign manager Douglass Sloan. (During his re-election campaign last year, Mayor Adrian Fenty showed similar spending habits with his $5 million war chest.) More formally, Kennedy Communications, the political shop that ran Mayor Vince Gray's campaign, took in $63,183, likely for Orange's eight-page mailer ("The Plan") and his snazzy website.
Biddle, on the other hand, directed over $30,000 to LSG Strategies, the home of former Fenty strategist Tom Lindenfeld. He also dropped $15,000 on Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, over $4,000 for advertising in The Current (bringing his total payments to the four-newspaper chain to close to $10,000), $75 at Taqueria Distrito Federal, and $54 at Curbside Cupcakes. Unlike Orange, Biddle seems to pay a small fulltime campaign staff and rely on volunteers.
Weaver's spending habits are interesting, to say the least. His biggest outlays were for advertising -- he sent money to The Current, The InTowner, The Washington City Paper, The Blade, and the blogs Prince of Petworth and The Georgetown Dish. (He's also got ads appearing on Facebook.)
Most of Mara's money (over $30,000) went to Cap Public Affairs, with another $2,000 to The Current for advertising and $3,790 to The Blade for the same. Lopez has been most frugal in his spending, seemingly not paying any big money for campaign staff, consultants or advertising. He's been in the campaign longest but only spent $8,528.96.
Bryan Weaver is fast becoming the choice for many young residents and students, picking up the Georgetown Voice's endorsement today. (He's also been picked by the D.C. YouthPAC and D.C. College Democrats, along with The InTowner.) Weaver's pick by the Voice is somewhat obvious -- he's one of the few candidates that hasn't jumped in behind knee-jerk local opposition to university expansion plans, and doesn't treat local students as a horde of foreign invaders. The text of the endorsement:
From the oppressive new D.C. noise law to the fight over the 2010 Campus Plan, Georgetown students have learned just how overbearing the District government can be. This month’s special election for the D.C. City Council’s at-large seat is an opportunity for students, who make up one-eighth of D.C.’s population, to change that, showing lawmakers their importance to this city. Bryan Weaver (D) of Adams Morgan is the best advocate for students among the wide field of candidates, and he is the right choice on Election Day for students seeking to stop more anti-student measures.
At a recent youth issues forum sponsored by DC Students Speak, all of the candidates for the at-large seat claimed to oppose the noise law and support greater student representation in D.C. government. But Weaver was the strongest on these issues. He argued not only against the use of the noise ordinance to target students but against the law in general, saying that its original intent, silencing union and religious activism, was unjust.
Weaver, along with some of the other candidates, also supports students’ right to live off-campus. However, he is unique among his rivals in that he has constructive solutions to related issues, such as his proposal to relax the height restrictions on D.C. universities so they can provide more on-campus housing.
Weaver is by no means the favorite in the coming election. His campaign faces an uphill battle against popular Pepco executive and former Councilmember Vincent Orange (D) and interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle (D), who enjoys the support of the Democratic State Committee, Mayor Vincent Gray, and the majority of the current Council.
But both frontrunners are lukewarm on students’ issues. In a recent candidate forum, Orange strongly opposed Georgetown’s campus plan, saying, “I know what happens when students move into the community: it’s parties every single day.” And all Biddle had to say about off-campus housing was that he was glad that it was the Zoning Commission’s decision and not his.
Still, it’s by no means impossible for Weaver to win. It was just this kind of special election that propelled then-Republican David Catania (I) to his at-large seat in 1997 in an upset against the favored Democratic challenger.
Even if Weaver fails to win, a strong showing for him in university neighborhoods fraught with town-gown issues would be an unmistakable sign of increased student activism. That in itself would make whoever wins on Election Day think twice about trampling on D.C.’s college students in the future.
Cross-posted at DCist.com
With early voting having begun this week and the election day less than two weeks away, the contest for the April 26 At-Large Special Election remains fluid and unsettled, with no one candidate yet rising above the rest. The uncertainties in the campaign to fill the seat once occupied by D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown is a product not only of the candidates, though, but of the ever-shifting political environment in the District.
Of the nine candidates vying for the seat, Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle, Vincent Orange, Josh Lopez, Patrick Mara, and Bryan Weaver have risen to the top, but that's about as much as anyone can say. (The Post had a good take on the Special Election over the weekend.)
A few days late to this one, but over the weekend Bryan Weaver picked up his first media endorsement of the campaign season from The InTowner:
So, where do we stand on who ought to be given the vote to fill the remainder of the unexpired at-large term? Based on what we have heard others who value legislators who are clear-headed and knowledgeable and also capable and willing to analyze the facts and circumstances — as evidenced by Bryan Weaver’s thoughtful response to our tax rate question, not to say anything about the obvious fact that he was ready to state his views on the record, we are endorsing him for election to the at-large seat.
The newspaper also considered Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle and Vincent Orange, though it didn't have much nice to say about either:
Unfortunately, Biddle gives the impression that he’s got the special election in the bag by virtue of his sort of artificial incumbency. Perusing his campaign website we could find nothing of substance, nor has he even provided us with anything that would inform us of where he stands on the many issues confronting the District, financial or otherwise. He wouldn’t even respond to our inquiry seeking his views on possible income tax rate changes. (More on that later.)
As for candidate Vincent Orange who is seeking to return to the council following having represented Ward 5 several years ago, we have not changed our negative impression which we expressed in this space last September when he was campaigning against Kwame Brown for the chairman’s position. Among other observations, we wrote: “[B]ased on what we were privy to back when he was a member of the council, . . . [w]e remember how he bulldozed through a major land grab sweetheart deal for the benefit of business friends in Arlington, much to the detriment of his own constituents . . . [causing] the food wholesalers [to get] pushed out from where they had been doing business for so many years –- and not just to their detriment but to that of their restaurant and food retail customers and to the Ward 5 economy.”
A few weeks back, Biddle received the nod of approval from The Current, though the endorsement oddly spoke more favorably of Weaver than it did of Biddle.
So far, Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle, Vincent Orange and Patrick Mara have bought ads; former candidate Jacque Patterson also had an ad appear in the newspapers. Biddle has been the biggest spender so far, dropping $5,000 on ads.
Weaver's ad -- a larger version is available after the jump -- plays up his claims that he'll clean up the District's government. It also hilariously quotes a Current endorsement that went for Biddle but had the nicest things to say about Weaver.
The Current reaches a key demographic in the April 26 Special Election -- vote-rich Ward 3.
Posted at DCist.com
During a candidate forum yesterday in Chevy Chase, seven of the nine candidates running for the At-Large seat on the D.C. Council announced that they'd be willing to fire themselves after two terms if they were to win the April 26 Special Election.
The statements came in response to a question from a member of the audience, who asked whether the recent scandals in D.C. government hint that elected officials should be term-limited. District residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of term limits for councilmembers in 1994, only to have the option undone by the D.C. Council in 2001.
Bryan Weaver answered first, noting that he voted for term limits in the 1994 referendum and would limit himself to two terms on the council, or eight years in office. He did add a caveat, though -- he wants term limits for specific seats, but doesn't think eight years in a ward-based council seat should preclude someone from running for an At-Large seat or council chair.
Alan Page, Patrick Mara, Josh Lopez, Dorothy Douglas and Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle all agreed. Lopez added that he would require that all councilmembers be full-time, and said that the District does not need career politicians. (The jab was directed at Vincent Orange, who didn't attend.) Biddle noted that term limits create a sense of urgency, and that they're needed to "refresh the system [and] get new people in."
A February report by the Pew Charitable Trusts comparing the legislatures of 15 cities across the U.S. found that term limits were evenly split -- eight cities have them, seven don't. Amongst those cities that don't impose limits, the District actually fares pretty well in terms of average tenure for elected officials -- 7.5 years, less than Chicago's 13.3, Baltimore's 12.5 and Boston's 7.7. That being said, only 23 percent of the D.C. Council's members are in their first-term, on par with many other cities, but far below San Diego's 75 percent, Pittsburgh's 67 percent and San Jose's 55 percent.
If a term-limit of two consecutive terms were imposed on the Council today (and applied retroactively), the victims would be Jim Graham (Ward 1, elected 1998), Jack Evans (Ward 2, elected 1991), David Catania (At Large, elected 1997), and Phil Mendelson (At Large, elected 1998). A two-term limit would also prevent Mary Cheh (Ward 3), Harry Thomas, Jr. (Ward 5), Tommy Wells (Ward 6), and Marion Barry (Ward 8 ) from running again once their current terms are up.
Of course, opinions on term limits have a tendency to change when a candidate becomes a councilmember, so we'll have to see how firm these stances are if anyone other than Orange wins on April 26.
A few more things floating around out there:
- Vox Populi has a good write-up of the D.C. Students Speak forum on Saturday. (So does the organization, I might add.) I was surprised and not surprised at all to see that Vincent Orange didn't show. Orange hasn't been particularly friendly to the student cause, and he probably wasn't expecting a friendly environment, much less an endorsement. That went to Bryan Weaver, by the way.
- Missed the Ward 5 Democrats forum, also on Saturday? The D.C. Democratic State Committee has video!
- Interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle may be behind Vincent Orange in funds raised and cash-on-hand, but he's getting a big boost from SEIU -- $65,000, to be exact. Considering that Biddle raised around $100,000 through March, SEIU's contribution is, well, substantial. And while the SEIU money can't be used in direct coordination with the Biddle campaign, it's not hard to pick up the campaign's main themes and just run with those.