“Rent Is Too Darn High” Slate Looks to Upset Democratic State Committee Regulars
While most of the attention tomorrow will be focused on Vince Gray's attempt to hang on to the mayoral suite, another batch of incumbents will be facing a challenge much further down the ballot from the D.C. Democratic State Committee's "Rent Is Too Darn High" slate. And yes, they have the backing of a certain elaborately mustachioed former New York mayoral candidate.
Former District shadow representative John Capozzi, who's running for an at-large committeeman spot on the Rent is Too Darn High ticket, says his reform-minded group took its name from New York's Rent Is Too Damn High Party as a nod to affordable housing woes in the District. Of course, it also doesn't hurt to be associated with an attention-getting name in a little watched race, either.
Jimmy McMillan, the flamboyantly facial haired founder of the New York party, called each of the slate members to express his support, according to Capozzi.
The slate, which also includes former Councilmember Sekou Biddle, former shadow representative Mike Panetta, and cycling activist Veronica O. Davis, will likely face its stiffest competition from D.C. Democrats Moving Forward, which includes many incumbent members of the DCDSC. Rent Is Too Damn High candidate accuses the incumbent slate, which didn't respond to LL's requests for comment, of cutting out new party members.
“It showed that people weren’t trying necessarily to get new faces," says Gregory Cendana, a Rent is Too Darn High candidate who outmaneuvered the likes of Marion Barry and Jack Evans to land a Democratic convention spot in 2012.
Normally, LL wouldn't blame you for ignoring this race. But thanks to the hyperactive U.S. Attorney's Office investigation into Jeff Thompson-fostered political corruption in the District, whoever's in charge of the State Committee could soon be making some big decisions about some offices that District voters have actually heard of. If Gray wins the mayoral primary tomorrow but is somehow unable to compete in the general election (say, because of criminal prosecution), the DCDSC would choose his replacement as the Democratic nominee, according to a spokeswoman for the Board of Elections.
Similarly, the group will be responsible for filling any interim spots if at-large Democratic councilmembers resign, a looming possibility now that Thompson has identified Councilmember Vincent Orange as a shadow campaign recipient. Both Gray and Orange say they didn't do anything wrong.
Cheeky naming aside, the Rent is Too Darn High couldn't quite honor McMillan's original party. Blame District rules against putting expletives on the ballot.
“The Board of Elections wouldn’t let us use 'The Rent is Too Damn High,' so it’s 'The Rent is Too Darn High,'" Capozzi says.
Photo courtesy Vincent Villano