Loose Lips

Republican Reboot

D.C. Republicans Look A Little Lost

This we know for sure: Exactly a year from next Tuesday, D.C. voters will head to the polls and vote overwhelmingly in favor of re-electing President Barack Obama.

What’s still unknown is whether Mitt Romney, or Herman Cain, or whoever the GOP gets around to nominating, will have any company on a losing local ticket that day.

There’s a chance that the only Republican candidate for any meaningful office on next year’s ballot will be one of D.C.’s most colorful political celebrities, a lifelong Democrat who only joined his new party a day before kicking off his campaign in a cemetery last month.

Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten, who has earned his daily bread lately as an anti-youth violence advocate, go-go promoter, and seller of T-shirts that read “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted Sulaimon Brown,” surprised virtually everybody with his announcement that he was, henceforth, a self-described “Civil Rights Republican.”

Moten kicked off his campaign for the Ward 7 council seat at Woodlawn Cemetery off Benning Road. The cemetery is the final resting place of Sen. Blanche Bruce, a Republican from Mississippi who was the first elected black senator to serve a full term. It’s also in a sorry state of disrepair, and this history of neglect Moten said was the perfect symbol of how the Democratic Party had mistreated African-American residents.

“Listen, y’all, we’ve been bamboozled,” said Moten, who sported a very bright turquoise shirt and gave a lengthy soliloquy about the failures of the city’s current office holders.

Moten’s prospects for winning in a ward where Republicans make up less than 3 percent of registered voters are pretty slim, but his surprise party swap is a lucky break for the D.C. GOP. Last election cycle, the party boasted that it was running candidates in all four contested ward races.

This time around, without Moten, they probably wouldn’t have anyone.

That’s due in part to the incumbents who are running: Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans’ fiscal conservatism resonates well with the Republican voters in his ward. And the day a Republican beats Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry is the day you can hop on a nearby pig and fly to the polls. But it’s mostly due to the fact that D.C.’s Republican establishment blew its wad in April.

D.C. Republicans Look A Little Lost

During a special election for an at-large council seat, the District’s Republicans appeared to have everything go their way—except the final vote count. The candidate was Patrick Mara, a nonthreatening cherub-face who was fresh off an impressive Ward 1 school board victory. The very model of the young, white, professional class that’s flocked to the city lately (he even owns a stake in Meridian Pint, the Columbia Heights beer bar), Mara had plenty of money, the backing of the Washington Post editorial board, and a series of scandals coming out of the Wilson Building that were whetting voters’ appetites for an outsider candidate.

But Mara faced a crowded field that split votes in the whiter, affluent wards west of Rock Creek Park and allowed Vincent Orange to squeak out a victory with a strong showing among predominately black voters in Northeast and across the river.

Months after Mara’s defeat, D.C. GOP Executive Director Paul Craney still sounds like a football fan coming to grips with a big loss.

“It really could have gone our way if just a few things were tweaked,” Craney says, rattling off all the different scenarios that would have led to a Mara victory. Those scenarios include, according to Craney: If liberal hipster darling—and Washington City Paper endorseeBryan Weaver had run a different campaign; if Ward 8-based Jacque Patterson had managed to get enough legitimate signatures to get his name on the ballot; if incumbent Sekou Biddle had won his home turf, Ward 4. “We just didn’t have enough time,” says Craney.

But while he casts one sorrowful eye to the past, Craney is also trying to look to the future. And that future includes taking hard whacks at At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown.

Brown, connoisseurs of D.C. political history will recall, unsuccessfully ran for mayor and Ward 4 councilmember before dropping his party affiliation and getting elected as an independent. (D.C. law effectively reserves two at-large council seats for non-Democrats.)

The GOP plan of attack seems to be to cast Brown as a member of the council’s unethical clique. In case you haven’t heard, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is currently investigating Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown and Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. They’re not up for election next year, though. Michael Brown’s raised the ire of some activists for the less-than-optimally-transparent way he got the council to approve online gambling, but he isn’t under any investigation.

Still, that’s not going to stop Craney. “He’s the poster child of unethical behavior on the council—next to Harry Thomas,” he says, adding that he thinks “intelligent Democrats” will have a hard time voting for Brown.

(For his part, Brown says in a statement: “I’ll be happy to respond to the DCGOP the next time I’m on Fox News.”)

But while he may have his strategy all mapped out, Craney still needs to find a candidate willing to run a city-wide race in a heavily Democratic town in a year when Obama—the nation’s first black president, after all—will be on the top of the ballot. Obama got 92.9 percent here in 2008, the highest share for any presidential candidate in the city’s history, and won about 45,000 more votes than any previous candidate in the process. Up against those odds, Mara’s indicated that he doesn’t have the heart to lose another citywide race, which leaves the door wide open for any would-be masochists. Craney says he’s had a few nibbles, but no one’s committed thus far.

Tim Day, a Ward 5 accountant who ran against Thomas last year, says he’s interested in another shot and will make up his mind by the end of the week. He says he wouldn’t run to be a martyr for his party, but because he thinks he has a chance.

“You don’t hear about CPAs doing corrupt stuff,” says Day, who got less than 6 percent of the vote last year and has apparently never read about Arthur Anderson. “We’re taught the difference between right and wrong.”

Another possible contender is former Ward 6 ANC commissioner Mary Brooks Beatty, who says she hasn’t made any decisions yet, but does have “a sincere desire to help improve the quality of life in D.C.”

That’s nice to have (as is a CPA), but anyone who does wind up running on the Republican line will also need a fealty to lost causes.

Photos by Darrow Montgomery

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  • DCPrettyGurl

    michael brown has my vote because I'm glad he got internet poker to DC.

  • Honest Abe

    Ronald Moten hahahahahahahahaha.......!!!! That's funny!

  • Blevins

    Why does anyone give this fool the time of day?

  • Laughing

    @DCGirl, well it doesn't seem as though you've looked into the forecast of this Web gambling thingy. All Michael "big bird" Brown did for you was provide an avenue to make you "poorer" under the guise of hitting it big with Internet poker. There is no middle class anymore. Didn't you know?

    It never ceases to amaze me why the most apolitical folks speak on political matters; Michael Brown included.

  • DCCommish

    @laughing...it's not poor people who will be sitting at home on a laptop and gambling away their last dime. It's more like nerdy 20-30yo who will be spending their disposable income along with the visitors in hotels and conventions who most likely will use the i-gambling. It's a natural progression of the lottery in which now people use outside US site and companies to do this type of betting. It’s not much different than KENO is right now. Best thing for DC is to get in on the action and regulate it better and get some revenue out of it instead of letting some offshore non-US company reap 100% of the revenue which is exactly what is happing right now.

  • Laughing

    @DCCom – I appreciate your input. But! Are you actually serious about poor people not gambling away their last dime? What world are you living in? Poor people are the “numbers” customers traditionally because the idea of it as in bringing about loads of wealth to escape the concrete jungle of ghetto life is the catalyst.

    Now in the casinos that is something different because most don’t know how to play the games. As far as the poor gambling on the laptop is slim (for obvious reasons like no computer in the home), however, do you actually believe that the tech-literate 20-30yr olds you speak of fall into the wealthy class? What you’re saying is very problematic. The issue is this: internet gambling will not be confined to hotels and the private clubs around town. I know plenty of people who live for KENO, those people comprise the lower economic classes, and those people after gambling away their rent in hopes that they will double in the parlors go to others for loans because of the mismanagement of an income that sometimes can only sustain some of their domestic needs, not all, I might add.

    You speak of outsourcing as though DC keeps things at home. C’mon most of the business DC does is outsourced. Again, what city are you living in?

  • Laughing

    @noodlez - Pure comedy...t-rex arms...stake body truck teeth...I wonder if there was a ever a personal affront between you two or that you just plainly don't like him for reasons that don't have to do with the politics of Ward 7. It seems to reason that you just don't like him. And, I definitely understand where you're coming from.

    I suppose though that if his go-go following and their parents and grandparents vote him in then he would do and be nothing more than the current W7 council, Y. Alexander. They both have problems with public speaking, they both are wasteful, they both are fugazi compassionates, they both pander to the entities that will pad their pockets...need I say more about the likeness in their vices? Are there any other options? I don't believe that little Kevin has a chance because W7 folk don't appreciate arrogance or I would change that to "confidence." Seemingly, they equate confidence as being too good for the lower classes. However, as a non-W7 resident myself, I am entirely skeptical about Kevin Jr. He would be carrying on the torch of his dad's tortured legacy and that is scary as I know it well. What are the options, seriously?

  • tony

    @Laughing and noodlez, ya'll make some good points and ya'll comments are well written. Your words are sharp and penetrating. I agree that ward 7 has a hard choice. But, I believe that Kevin B. is just too "risky". One thing about Yvette is that she is her own person, but I don't know if Kevin B. could ever be his own man as long as his father and his downtown buddies are towering over him.

  • AvaBlu

    This article was interesting, and informative!
    As a registered voter, I would suggest that Mr. Paul Craney, recognize the influence that Mr. Moten has on the constituents that many "politicians" do not reach out too. He will secure and garner the "invisible" voters. He is very effective at securing and registering voters that others choose to neglect!
    It's time to step out of the box, and shake up the "status quo" that is going on at the City Council!
    Mr. Craney and other DC residents need to realize it is our time, to WAKE UP, AND ADDRESS THE ISSUES THAT ARE HOVERING OVER OUR CITY!
    Republicans/Democrats/Independents, pick one I really do not care which party you want to choose.
    The issues that Mr. Moten is talking about affect all of us; high unemployment, dependency on government, and making sure we build up the people of DC in every ward and every socio-economic group!
    Let's stick to the issues and elect a citizen who has the track record of listening to people, and organizing people to rise above their circumstances.
    That person is Ronald Moten...
    I know, I know, others feel "personal" about past issues. You have the right to feel that way. What I'm stressing, is address those issues at his forums, and then be open to hearing his plan and talking points.
    I'm tired of a certain few, getting over on the people of DC.
    As a resident,I think we are smart enough to decide our future!
    What do you think?

  • SaveWard7

    I agree with @laughing and noodlez, as a resident of Ward 7 we face a very hard future of searching and selecting a good, ethical and honest NEW COUNCIL MEMBER. Of all the regrets I have ever had, that was in supporting and voting for Y.Alexander (twice) (aka stupid gir). We need a New Voice, New Message, A Leader for this Ward. Our choices, Kevin B., Ron Brown (does anyone know him), or stupid girl!

  • Doomed

    I feel for you loyal W7ers. I have friends over there and several family members there too. It is quite disheartening that there seems to be no decent politicians who exist in the District anymore. Everyone has his or her talons out at any and every opportunity to profit off the backs of the District’s taxpayers…and this is happening in ALL Wards.

    One thing you must be mindful of, however, is the community activists and ANC commissioners who will make you believe they have your best interest at heart in dealing with the candidates up for election. This is not so! There are some notable ones over there in Ward 7 who are just as shady, and perhaps even more shady as Alexander and Moten but have managed to fool the communities, particularly they have fooled the seniors as this is perhaps the biggest voting population over there. You know the seniors normally go with anything that sounds good and anything that gives them a false hope, but of course it is not their intention to be so gullible. It is just that they rely on the younger generations to look out for them when in fact, they are doing the opposite. What can you say when someone is always grinning in your face and helping you up on curbs and carrying your grocery bags and such and so-called keeping the criminals at bay? In reality, and this is REAL TALK, these community activists and ANC commissioners actually "support their dealers" in the hood when they go to them to get their narcotic fixes, well some of them travel into Maryland too? What irony, you say? As a senior, you too perhaps would put trust in a person like that, the ones of course you don’t know what they’re doing behind closed doors but always seem to lend a helping hand. Beware of those community activists and ANC commissioners who have traditionally been linked to Yvette Alexander because it’s not you they’re concerned about, especially when they know this person is the epitome of ineptitude. So, wouldn’t you come to the logical conclusion they are supporting a dimwit like Yvette Alexander for personal gain? To that end, can you imagine the persons Moten has on his team? Sad to say it, but you folks are doomed though I wish it wasn't so.

  • B-DC

    @ Noodlez, I really enjoy reading your post! Ron Moten take your simple ass somewhere and fill out a damn job application.

  • Frustrated

    Listen Noodlez. If you are going to post stuff like that, put a disclaimer at the begining so those of us sneaking on line at work don't get fired for laughing out loud. Geez.

    T-rex arms?! SMH.