Loose Lips

In Ward 1, Brianne Nadeau Boots Jim Graham From D.C. Council


At 9:43 p.m., Brianne Nadeau hadn't arrived at her election-night party yet, but her campaign was prepping for a dramatic entrance. As Nadeau's campaign manager ushered handpicked supporters onto the stage to form a victorious-looking human tableau, the large crowd on the second floor of Solly's on U Street NW was glued to NewsChannel8, which was showing an early Nadeau lead over the councilmember she hoped to unseat, Ward 1's Jim Graham. Finally, Nadeau entered—awkwardly, or awesomely, to Bruce Springsteen's fist-pumper "Born to Run."

"Brianne for D.C.! Brianne for D.C.!" the room chanted. Nadeau headed to the stage—the mic wasn't working, but she rolled with it. Without amplification, she said, "I know y'all know I was a Girl Scout, but I was also a cheerleader," she said. "We are in the lead!"

Nadeau talked about the beginnings of her effort to best Graham, when she started raising money in 2011. "If you want to beat a four-term councilmember," she said, "you've gotta raise a shit-ton of money." The room erupted in cheers and laughter.

Nadeau might be on her way to becoming D.C.'s funniest councilmember. With 11 of 15 Ward 1 precincts counted, she was beating Graham tonight, 58 percent to 41 percent, ending the reign of a councilmember who was once thought unbeatable in his ward.

At Solly's, Nadeau thanked what seemed to be dozens in the room. She thanked her mom—as well as a number of "campaign mothers" who made sure she slept in the run-up to election day. "Apparently people think I need to be mothered," she quipped. She thanked At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, whose endorsement, she said, was a "turning point" for her campaign. She thanked volunteers who helped her clean up alleys in Ward 1. "I don't know if you know this, but rats are a big problem in Ward 1," she said. The crowd cheered that, too.

In an interview, Nadeau said she saw low turnout in the ward today but "strong support" for her candidacy, and that one advantage she had over past Graham challengers was her ground operation. (And unlike past Graham challengers, Nadeau faced a less crowded field.) Asked about potentially running against activist Bryan Weaver—who had been running as a Democrat in the primary before dropping out to run as an independent in the general election this fall—she said, "I'll think about April 2 tomorrow."

In Mount Pleasant, Graham was holding court in Haydee's Restaurant—where the crowd was lighter than at Nadeau's party, but arguably as electric thanks to several spirited, Spanish-language karaoke performances. Still awaiting the full results, Graham said he was feeling great, even as supporters reloaded the Board of Elections website on their iPads with glum looks on their faces.

One of two things will happen tonight, Graham said: "I'll either be free as a bird, or I'll be free as bird."

Photo by Jonathan L. Fischer

  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    Your days in the Wilson Building have ended, Miss Graham. Now you can go to Dinseyland for vacation.

  • John Simpkins-Camp

    As a long-time supporter of Jim Graham, I was disappointed to see him turn his back on his constituents in favor of business in many of his dealings. This election was his to loose....

    I welcome a fresh, engaging force in Ward One, and I was glad to learn how many of my friends chose to support Brianne Nadea. Change is good.

  • Fred S

    I agree with John, change is good and Jim was there way too long.

  • Tom Brennan

    Jim did some good things in his career prior to council service. We should appreciate that. Jim did not seem to fully understand why the pattern of ethical carelessness, and heavy handed use of power, was troubling to so many. The voters made the right choice in this primary. Was glad I got to at least a little volunteer work (in the rain over the weekend, and today). Now comes the hard part -- but this was an inspiring thing to witness.

  • the checkered demon

    It will be interesting to see what scapegoats this chronic whiner comes up with tomorrow as being responsible,other than himself, for his loss. He casually absolved his own pathetic ethical shortcomings as merely "sharp-elbowed politics." Guess what, Councilmember: the Ward wants no part of that. Like it not, you will be remembered far more for the borderline extortion that you practiced regularly and your petty vindictiveness than for any good acts performed over your long tenure. Who's responsible for that?

  • Calloway

    An inspiring story yes, but we have permanently lost a very responsive councilmember. Yes, sometimes it seems he was equal parts good and bad, but show me the politician who is not. That will include Nadeau. Graham could be slimey and heavy handed, but he also knew how to conduct meetings, was smart, often a good thinker, and kept his cool. He was mature in public. There are many many things that the people of Ward One will miss about him, don't fool yourself.

    The council lost one of the best chairs it ever had in Vince Gray, and now we've lost him as mayor. Perhaps he should never have run in the first place. It was like he wanted to be two things at once, chair and mayor.

    The story here is the low voter turnout.

  • GoldCoastKid

    Thank God Jim Graham has finally been put to bed.
    We were all very tired of him

  • Graham crackers and warm milk before bed

    Free as a bird, unless sitting on the iceberg.

    Now where is that iceberg, and who is sitting on it?

  • http://www.hillaryclinton.com Ward1Advocate

    Best of luck Jim. Take it in stride and be proud of your accomplishments. It is now time for new blood and ethical and transparent representation in Ward 1.

  • NE John

    "And I think it's gonna be a long long time 'til" we see the likes of Graham in this government again.

  • Not some kid just out of college

    As a community organizer in DC that does actual organizing and helping in the community and a LONG time DC resident, I'm concerned that Nadeau won't be as active as Graham is.

    As someone who does a lot of advocacy to improve DC, I can tell you that Graham did have his negative parts, but when needed by the people (not only in his ward) he would step up.

    Scandals behind, look at his history of introducing legislation and getting things done. Graham did a lot one on one assistance with the community throughout his time in office and he probably hoped that the community would have been responsable to vote. would have been a very nice different story if people would have been responsable residents and voted yesterday. Too bad that some communities in ward one did not valued voting so much for cultural reasons.

    That being said, I only know what Nadeau's has told me about her. If those four thousand something individuals that voted are any representation of the 76K residents in ward one, then I welcome Nadeau. I just hope she actually answers my emails now that she will be in office ;).

  • DontSleeponDude

    It couldnt have happened to a nicer guy. Jim was one of the most meanspirited people in DC government--a sheer bully. He who lives by the sword will one day die by it. His political career in DC was officially pronounced dead on April 1st (a day devoted to fools)!!

  • joan

    Thank you Brianne for bringing an end to Diamond Jim's reign of corruption and self interest.

  • CataniaIsNEXT

    People judge based on their own interests. Jim's interestes included black people...this is why a lot of us love him...say what you want about him but he will be sorely missed...Brianne has no experience in dealing with this demographic in that ward...we know what this city has become and Jim Graham guarded for us in that part.

    Listen to this Brianne. This City has demonstrated time and again, if that you mess up, consider only 1 term for yourself.

  • CataniaIsNEXT

    This is truly a dismal day.

    @Calloway - tell em - they just don't understand that Graham took care of his Ward to the fullest. We lost a true champion in him and I for one am disappointed, REALLY.

  • nate

    Jim Graham worked extremely hard for his constituents and really deserves credit for what he accomplished. It wasn't an easy choice until the housing credit trick Jim pulled at the end. Brianne ran the stronger campaign, wanted it more and will bring new energy to the job. If she is able to learn from Jim's strategic acumen while staying clean, there is reason to be optimistic about her leadership.

  • Typical DC BS

    Thank GOD that Miss Graham is GONE!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally, the cards all fell into place - only ONE challenger, very low turnout among the usual low-intelligence DC voters and Graham's non-stop record of scumminess finally toppled this twerp.

  • Hal9000

    Although he has his critics, Jim Graham was at one time a dedicated community activist who did a lot of good for the gay community when he ran WWC. The beginning of the end of his CM career was when his chief of staff was indicted (and plead guilty) for accepting bribes from the taxicab industry. All downhill from there.

  • Ward One Resident

    So this is twice now there has been the mention that she started raising money in 2011, but she didn't file any paperwork with the OCF, either exploratory or full-on candidate until after the primary in 2012. How is this possible? It's certainly not legal if that's the case. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but she mentions it herself right at the beginning of this story.

  • Northwesterneer

    Adrianne Nadeau is ethically challenged and I will not be voting for her in the general election. A General Election challenger will see her in a real struggle.

    To put it bluntly, Nadeau and crew do not have a clue.

  • Northwesterneer

    Calloway made some brilliant statements. Gray should never, ever have run for mayor, ever.

  • dcward1

    Jim Graham's heart was in the right place on many issues. But this campaign, especially in the last weeks, seem odd. The attacks on Nadeau were a little bit of a turnoff.

    I wish Graham well, and the best to Nadeau.

  • Dolly

    Jim Graham. I didn't always agree with him, but he always replied to my emails. I hope Brianne Nadeau will do the same.

    I don't think she has a clue about what she's getting herself into, but clearly she ran a better campaign. (Did Graham run a campaign, really?)

    I'm assuming her base is upper middle class white people? I hope she doesn't pander to them too much.

  • truth hurts

    It was time for Graham to go.

  • CataniaIsNEXT

    @Dolly - I know what you mean. My heart truly hurts for this man. Hail Jim for all he's done for minorities!!!!!!

    A vote for Brianne was an uninformed one. All those who voted for her probably just moved to the City.

  • gmg

    Well, CataniaISNEXT, I've lived here eight years and I voted for Nadeau in large part because Jim Graham's campaign fliers informed me that if I were to apply for first-time homebuyer funding (FOR WHICH I AM ELIGIBLE, as a resident meeting the income guidelines for a single-person household and intending to live for some years in the home I would buy), as I've been thinking about doing, I would be unethically stealing money meant only for poor families and the elderly. If that's so, I guess they should tighten the guidelines! Instead, Graham gambled on demonizing some of his constituents in order to bring others to the polls, and it failed. I vote, I volunteer in my neighborhood, I participate in my community and I won't give ground to anyone on whether I "belong" here. I would also note that your apparent preferred mayoral candidate, Mr. Catania, is just like me: a transplant. We're not welcome, apparently, except when we are. Would love if you'd explain how that works!

  • Lets All Party Like Its 1999


    Don't know whatn turnip truck you fell off of but Graham left Whitman Walker in disgrace and now the council in much the same way. Jim Graham is the most amoral and corrupt individual ever in DC public life, through the marrow of his bones.

  • Northwesterneer

    GMG- you cannot be more wrong. Nothing you state is true about the flyers, period. You made it all up. You are part of the problem in Ward 1, not the solution, look in the mirror.

  • Matty

    Gee, I wonder if Costco might have a nice executive position for Graham. That's the way this stuff works, right?

  • Richie not rich

    Let's not forget that Jim bullied this candidate during the campaign because she was a formidable opponent. That last week he screamed at her" you"ll never be a public servant"wagging his finger in her face... That he accused her of fraud on a loan he approved and helped her get completed. At some point he did some good things, but he also used his office for personal attention, that he treated people he asked $$ from people ike sh*t if they testified in front him on issues he disagreed with. And years ago, he went after real estate people and castigated the innocent for tv time. For the dais to play from the crowd. Chased fire trucks at night to appear on the 11 o clock news.

    Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, hey hey hey, good bye. Bye Carol Schwartz, and now g'bye Jim Graham. Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out.

  • candycane1

    It's going to take him from now until November to clean all that shit out of his office! Have you ever seen that office? He really needs to call Tyrone. lol!!!!

  • Tom Cat


    Wonder if he'll return it to its rightful owner, Whitman Walker and the gay community. Much of it was looted from same.

    Oh, and Jim, don't count on the council to give you a 60k plus "consulting" contract.

  • Kurt

    Ward 1 is very cutting edge. They put on the Council the first openly gay Democrat and now they have put on the Council the first resident of government assisted housing. The folks in the projects must feel they have a real seat at the table, just like the gays did 16 years ago.

  • DCDude

    Remember, Brianne still now has to run against Weaver. Weaver is a qualified, real candidate, and a progressive. Brianne will have the benefit of the "D" by her name, but it's not the usual DC general election cakewalk.

  • gmg

    @Northwesterneer: I just reread a flier. They say exactly what I wrote that they say. Graham tried to divide and conquer and he failed. And how dare you say I don't belong in my own neighborhood.

  • CatInATree

    Geez, Northwesterneer, can we give Brianne a chance before we write her and her supporters off as failures?

    And Calloway, Nadeau won by 18 points. Even in a high turnout election, it's hard to imagine she would've lost -- because she would've won some of those votes, too. The will of the voters was unambiguous, and if Graham's supporters weren't motivated enough to turnout to vote for him, that's a statement about his leadership, too. All Democrats had an equal -- and ample -- opportunity to vote.

    I've always liked Graham, but I'm excited about Brianne's potential. She ran an energetic campaign, knocking on more doors and attending more events across the Ward than I've seen Graham do in his 15 years in office. If that's an indication of the type of leader she'll be on the Council, I think we'll be in good hands.

  • Calloway

    The debate continues!

    No, I know - she did a fantastic job campaigning (tiresome and boring though it was. Oh, to be within earshot, mailbox slot, computershot, phoneshot of it all - ugh - I'm glad it is over), better than Graham and as you say maybe better than he ever did. But so what? I mean, who cares about campaigning? Although I guess I shouldn't say that. The lack of it is what has made Brian Weaver lose three or four times in a row, whatever it is, and he will probably lose again. My point is that campaigning is not much of a reflection on anything other than campaigning. The way I think about it is, who did she call when she had trouble with her housing finance? Jim Graham. That is what kind of sends shivers up my spine. And for those who think they won't miss him and his ability to get things done, well I personally say think again. But I am no big huge fan of his at all. I know, I know, I know, a million kazillion times I know the man has his enemies. I know. He could annoy me in equal measure. But I remember the days before Jim Graham.

    's all i'm sayin.

    I still think the low turnout is the story of this election. What is going to happen to engagement in this city, aren't we already disempowered enough?

  • Northwesterneer

    I agree with everything Calloway wrote, Jim Graham is still going to be the person Adrianne Nadeau calls to get things done in DC, that will not change.

    I mean really, Calloway, I wonder if ANY Nadeau voters remember Frank Smith. I doubt they do.

    CatInATree- see here's my thing, I haven't seen her do anywhere NEAR the number of things I've seen Graham do. Jim Graham shows up at so many events there's even a critical name for how involved he is in Ward One: GrahamStanding.

    Because no matter what important thing is happening in Ward One, Jim Graham will be there.

    Quick, Adrianne Nadeau, name the members of the Euclid St Crew and when will they next get out of prison.

    Get it?

    That you could even suggest that Nadeau campaigned more than Graham shows, I suppose, that she targeted her campaigning only to events you would be around and avoided events where entrenched Jim Graham supporters would be. I saw the polar opposite of what you saw- I ran into Jim Graham three times and never met Nadeau this whole cycle.

  • Northwesterneer

    @Northwesterneer: I just reread a flier. They say exactly what I wrote that they say. Graham tried to divide and conquer and he failed. And how dare you say I don't belong in my own neighborhood.
    GMG! You proved my point! At NO POINT DID I EVER SAY YOU DON'T BELONG IN YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD! No one wrote that! I am completely correct, you not only read the flyer wrong, you read my post wrong!

  • Northwesterneer

    *It looks like I accidentally referred to Brianne Nadeau as Adrianne Nadeau- that's how little I think of her impact on Ward One I guess.

  • tntdc

    She's a crook.

    A rich girl from Gross Pointe who misrepresented her income and assets to take $40,000 earmarked for low-income people.(yes, it was just a "loan"; 50 years with zero interest and no payments for 5 years). That's money some single mom won't get to buy a home for her legitimately low-income family. Probably won't be able to prove any technical fraud but she's still morally bankrupt.

    She'll fit right in on the council of the District of Corruption.

  • CatInATree

    Calloway and Northwesterneer, I understand what you're both saying. But of course Jim Graham has done more than Brianne in Ward 1 -- he has been our Councilmember for 15 years, not her. That's what he was paid to do with a generous taxpayer-funded salary. I would expect Nadeau to have reached out to him as a constituent who needed his assistance, just as we have all done when we had an issue. I certainly don't begrudge her for that.

    So, in a nutshell, I feel like you're comparing apples to oranges. She wasn't our Councilmember, so we can't expect her to have accomplished all that Graham has accomplished for the community. She simply wasn't empowered to do so. But this wasn't a competition of resumes, and if it was, Graham would've won.

    I think folks -- myself included amongst them -- lost trust in Graham. It was very clear he abused his power in that shady land deal, and he even acknowledged it on Kojo. When you add in the bizarre dealings of him and his Chief of Staff with the taxi lobby, it makes me wonder what else has been happening in his office that we're not seeing.

    In the end, I'd be fine if Graham had been re-elected, just as I'm fine with Nadeau having beaten him. I'm encouraged by the energetic campaign she ran because I do think that's the best evidence we have of the type of Councilmember she'll be -- someone who's not complacent and who actively seeks to engage her constituents. And if I'm wrong, well, that's what elections are for. For now, she's clearly earned a shot at the job, and for the sake of our neighborhoods, I don't think we should be rooting for her to fail.

  • Calloway

    "he has been our Councilmember for 15 years, not her." True, and a fair point. What I meant was, from Day One, Jim Graham hit the ground running and boosted constituent services to a level we in Ward One had never seen before. We are the envy of many in the city in that regard. Hey, ever gotten David Catania to return a phone call? Anyway, it's not just that his resume (ugh - Washington) is better, it's that he was someone who had a serious background, could maximize connections and use them intelligently for the benefit of many in the ward. He was a holistic thinker, in many ways. He saw the big picture. (And again, I disagreed with him on many things.)

    "I think folks -- myself included amongst them -- lost trust in Graham" - true that (though I woulda said people not folks but thats just me.)

    "I don't think we should be rooting for her to fail."
    I'm not.

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