At Debate, Mayoral Candidates Want to Face Vince Gray, Face Christian Carter Instead
Thursday's mayoral debate at Georgetown's Dumbarton House was as much about who didn't show up as who did. While the six of the seven major candidates were there, incumbent Vince Gray was missing, opting instead for a public-safety walkthrough in Ward 4's Shepherd Park.
Gray's absence, immediately following his congenial interview with WUSA9's Bruce Johnson, left the other candidates incensed. Walking up to Dumbarton, Wells explained that his strategy amounted to just showing up. "That's not everyone's plan," he said.
Ditto Muriel Bowser. "We thought, actually, that everybody running for mayor would be here tonight," Bowser told the audience at the Northwest Current-sponsored debate.
Instead of getting a shot at Gray, the candidates got a visit from longshot mayoral hopeful Christian Carter. Carter, whose campaign managed to reach the 2,000-minimum-signature requirement last week despite internal problems, made his way through the audience 15 minutes into the debate. After a fierce but inaudible exchange with debate moderator and Current publisher Davis Kennedy, Carter grabbed a chair from the audience and sat next to Bowser.
"I forgot to say that the candidates who were invited to participate were all those who have been elected at least to the city council," Kennedy said after Carter barged in. "We invited two other candidates to participate who we thought were reasonable longshots."
Kennedy meant Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal and former State Department official Reta Lewis, both of whom didn't look thrilled to be called longshots.
A woman in the audience yelled she would never support Dumbarton House again. Kennedy relented and started treating Carter like an invited candidate.
The East Georgetown types in the audience seemed amused but baffled by Carter, who insisted that he wanted more "white people" in D.C. public schools because they would mean more government investment. Carter then explained his language education plan, called "Geared for Global," which he claimed, to Evans' visible horror, would make it so "our yellow citizens are not in a position where they're being forced out."
The most heat for candidates who aren't Christian Carter came when Kennedy asked the candidate what he billed as "ultra-tough questions." Orange, asked about his intervention in his short-lived attempt to stop health inspectors from shutting down a food wholesaler, defended the actions that earned him an admonishment from the ethics board.
"I would, in fact, do it again," Orange said. That would conflict with Orange's settlement with the ethics board, which forbids him from doing it again.
After the debate, Orange told LL that his owned admitted lapses paled in comparisons with his colleagues' ethics, which "makes me look like a small infant." Orange declined to say who he was talking about.
Photo courtesy Christian Carter