Loose Lips Daily: It’s BOEE Time Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, sweet readers! Man, what is it about new socks? They are the best! News time:
It's BOEE Time: Team Fenty took a big old swing and a miss at this morning's Board of Elections and Ethics hearing on their petition to open up the Democratic primary to the 70,000+ unaffiliated voters on the city's voter registration rolls. New Chairman Togo West ran a mostly tight ship during the morning's testimony, which featured Fenty's lawyers and two other dudes on one side, and the Gray campaign with down-ballot candidates, the D.C. Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO, and a whole lot of people on the other side.
Mayor Adrian Fenty's team's argument boiled down to this: let's get real and admit that the only race that matters is the Democratic primary, and let's interpret the new city laws that allow same-day voter registration as broadly as possible to enfranchise as many people as possible.
Vincent Gray's team and all the other opponents said independent voters have never been able to vote in the Democratic primary, and the Fenty campaign is mounting a desperate attempt to try and change the goal posts with less than three weeks to go.
The board made it clear that since the D.C. Council has already considered and rejected what Team Fenty was trying to do, they should too. Case closed... or is it?
Fenty campaign chairman Bill Lightfoot said afterwards that Team Fenty isn't going to appeal, but Brian Castro, a soft-spoken general litigation lawyer who spoke in favor of the Fenty petition, said he's going to seek a preliminary injunction in federal court on behalf of the city's independent voters. Castro said he's a Democrat, but he has independent friends. He also said there is loads of case law to prove that the city is violating the First Amendment rights of independent voters, and he added that he's in no way acting in concert with the Fenty campaign. (Of course not!)
Meanwhile, Gray campaign manager Adam Rubinson sorta compared Fenty to Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez, and generally came very close to wearing out the following line: "a brazen attempt by a desperate campaign to game the system at the 11th hour."
E-mailed joke from a Gray supporter: "The BOEE ruling is actually good for Fenty: it should help him get used to losing." Zing!
AFTER THE JUMP: Synagogue Forum; Obama for Fenty?; Black Women Voters...
Synagogue Rumble: Fenty and Gray finally answered the most pressing question of the campaign season last night at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue: How are you going to attract more Israeli businesses to D.C.? LL doesn't really remember the answers, except Gray said something about recruiting Israeli companies to help clean up the Anacostia River. (Also, if what attracts LL's Jewish editor is any guide, try establishing a supply of government-subsidized pickled herring.)
In other forum news, the place was packed with nearly 1,000 people to watch Fenty find his groove highlighting the city's progress in improving public education. Fenty seemed a bit lost on other topics, but when it came to education, he was on point and was clearly feeling good hammering Gray over his lack of support for schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. If you wanted to see the apologetic mayor reporters have been writing about, you went to the wrong place.
The Graybot was solid, but a little boring. LL chatted with a nice couple on the way to the Metro after the event. The verdict: the wife went to the debate rooting for Fenty and left rooting for Fenty. The husband went there rooting for Gray and left rooting for Gray. Here's Nikita Stewart, one of three (!) Post reporters there last night, with her description: Fenty "looked more like a CEO addressing a group of shareholders as he talked about the tough decisions that came with school reform and other tasks as mayor. Gray used the stage as a pulpit, rousing the crowd like a Sunday morning preacher."
Sinclair Skinner, It's Your Time to Shine: The Gray campaign finally has a TV ad that real TV watchers might actually see. This one focuses on Fenty's friends who have done well under his administration, particularly Sinclair Skinner, Omar Karim, and Ron Moten. The Post's Tim Craig got the first look and reports that the ads will only air on cable TV, not the networks. Both Craig and LL's boss Mike Madden note that it's weird for a challenger like Gray to go negative with his first ad. Madden: "The conventional wisdom in politics is that candidates shouldn’t go negative before they’ve introduced themselves positively. But Gray doesn’t have time, or money, to roll out multiple ad campaigns. What this all means is a little hard to figure out. Public polls show Gray leading, but within the margin of error. Conventional wisdom, again, would usually argue that the barrage of attacks from Gray might show his own advisers think Fenty’s ahead; why else risk a backlash from voters? But since conventional wisdom would also say that a mayor who most voters agree with on most actual policies shouldn’t be facing a fight for his political life three weeks before an election, maybe it’s not much of a guide to what’s happening in D.C. this summer."
Craig also reports that Gray is sending out a mailer with the same message, and has this response from Hizzoner: "We believe he is much more vulnerable on how you manage finances and his record of running a government agency," Fenty said today, referring to Gray's tenure at the city's human services department. "This is a candidate trying to paint a portrait of a candidate which is probably much more applicable to how he ran his agency in the 1990s."
Obama for Fenty?: The Post's Bill Turque thinks so, saying the District's win in the federal Race to the Top education funding contest shows that the Obama Administration is clearly behind Fenty. "The largesse clearly lands at an opportune time for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who can now include a RTTT win as part of his campaign narrative about an improved public school system. If any doubt remained about where the Obama Administration's sympathies are in the District primary, they were eliminated at a morning photo op that preceded the official RTTT announcement by the Department of Education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan started his day with Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, leading a walk of children from Lincoln Park to Maury Elementary on Capital Hill to tout a federal initiative promoting safe routes to school.
While Duncan has participated in a number of District school events, the timing of this morning's walk gave it the unmistakable feel of a Fenty campaign stop, with some children and parents wearing green Fenty stickers as they filed onto the Maury playground for a press conference. Duncan, who called the Fenty-Rhee education record 'absolutely extraordinary,' was asked if he was taking sides in the primary—which pits Fenty against D.C. Council president Vincent C. Gray. He shied away from explicit support for the mayor but did say, 'I'm a big fan.'"
Diary of An Angry Gray Voter: Why do black women poll so low for Fenty? Courtland Milloy takes a stab at it: "He worked at it, went out of his way to snub and disrespect even the most revered sisters of distinction." Milloy goes on to mention the infamous mayoral snubbing of Maya Angelou and Dorothy Height. "It's as if black women had let down their natural guard against disappointment and allowed themselves to be fooled by a man they thought really cared about them. 'I just don't understand him,' said Joan Ellis Tillman, 76, a longtime grass-roots political activist, sounding bewildered. 'I worked hard for Fenty, and as soon as he became mayor he starts acting like he doesn't know me.'" Gulp! Sounds like someone needs an apology, stat.
People Addicted to Politiks: Peaceoholics co-founder Jauhar Abraham sent out a news release Tuesday that declares the nonprofit group isn’t “politicking” for Fenty. Abraham then goes on to attack D.C. Councilwoman Yvette Alexander for calling for an audit that would examiner Peaceoholics’ funding and the group’s role in the mayoral race," reports Freeman Klopott at the Washington Examiner. "'There is absolutely no legitimate basis to accuse the Peaceoholics of politicking,' Abraham said in the release. 'It is obvious that in this instance, the councilperson is clearly abusing her position to further her political agenda and fan the flames of suspicion and cast this organization in a nefarious light.'"