Loose Lips

What Comes Next for D.C. Politics?

Vince_Gray-1

LL will do the honors. D.C., meet your presumptive next mayor.

“I like the sound of that,” Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser said Wednesday at her post-primary victory press conference.

After Bowser walloped Mayor Vince Gray with 44 percent of the vote to his 32 percent Tuesday night, her campaign organized an event at the National Press Club. D.C. Democratic State Committee chairman (and D.C. Council at-large primary victor) Anita Bonds joined Bowser at the podium, declaring that the party’s considerable weight would go behind its new candidate. The first step in healing ahead of the general election fight with David Catania would be a “unity breakfast” planned in the heart of Gray country in Ward 8.

“We did this four years ago, and it was fairly effective,” Bonds said, apparently oblivious to the fact that one of the camps that had come together in “unity” in 2010 had just avenged its loss by kicking Gray out of office.

Tuesday’s primary results marked the start of new things, including Bowser’s general election bid and a reorganized D.C. Council. It was also the beginning of the end for Gray’s mayoralty and Councilmember Jim Graham’s 15-year reign in Ward 1—albeit an end the city won’t actually see until they’re replaced in January. Here are the questions LL will be thinking about in the ensuing nine-month before somebody new becomes mayor.

How will Bowser run in the general election?

At a predawn rally Tuesday near Nationals Park for her supporters, Bowser ran through her list of requests for primary day: Work hard at the polls, because you never know when the candidate will stop by. Dress well. And don’t be rude to other Democrats’ supporters, since she’ll need their votes in November.

“Everybody that’s not with us today, well, they’re going to be with us in November,” Bowser said.

Now Bowser will see how many of those other supporters really will stick with her against Catania. While Bowser says Gray backer Marion Barry has already pledged his support, Gray was more circumspect in his concession speech Tuesday night.

Instead of saying the party should unite behind Bowser, Gray only urged his supporters to work for an unnamed person who would make the best mayor for the District. As of Wednesday afternoon, he also hadn’t called her to offer his congratulations. Take that, Muriel!

Gray’s reticence isn’t as tacky as it might look: Earlier in the campaign, Bowser said that she wouldn’t help Gray beat Catania if he had won. But then, she didn’t have an indictment looming over her.

Despite polls showing Bowser beating Catania by more than 30 percentage points, Catania is staying in the race that will require him to give up his at-large Council seat. The morning after Bowser’s win, Catania called Bowser to say that he welcomes a debate in the general election. In other words, game on. But with an electorate that’s still 75 percent Democratic, Catania, not Bowser, has the most work to do.

How much did the lack of a shadow campaign hurt Vince Gray?

Even as it became more and more obvious that Gray’s 2010 election benefited from an illegal shadow campaign, Gray supporters insisted that the election hadn’t been stolen from Adrian Fenty. Since Gray beat Fenty by 10 points, city contractor Jeff Thompson’s criminal $668,800 effort hadn’t swung the election—it had just sweetened Gray’s win.

The claim made sense at the time, but LL isn’t so sure anymore. Gray beat Fenty by 13,000 votes, a number that was helped along by Gray-friendly Wards 7 and 8 and Thompson’s illicit get-out-the-vote effort.

Gray received 25,020 votes from those two wards in 2010; with lower turnout Tuesday, he received only 7,889. The difference in Gray’s support from election to election in those wards alone was enough to account for his winning margin in 2010 (and then some). With Gray losing handily this time around sans Thompson, it’s worth reconsidering whether Gray would be in the mayoral suite at all without the help that Thompson has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges for providing.

Will the D.C. Council improve?

For the past few years, the D.C. Council has been marked by either incumbent laziness (see: elected attorney general, the delaying of) or outright criminality. Thanks to the primary results, though, that may be about to change.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells will be replaced in his seat by Charles Allen, his protégé and former chief of staff. Wells, who gave up his seat to finish third in the race for mayor, was one of the Council’s most progressive members. But Allen offers the prospect of someone with Wells’ ideas who hasn’t alienated all of his colleagues, and isn’t distracted by mayoral ambitions (for now!).

The biggest change, though, will come in Ward 1, where FBI sting target and 13-year Councilmember Jim Graham has been ousted by Brianne Nadeau. LL’s guessing that Nadeau’s victory took Graham by surprise, since just last week he was angrily telling Nadeau that he was “a public official, which you will never be!”

If Nadeau and Allen team up with other ethics stalwarts like independent at-large Councilmember David Grosso and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, the legislature will have the makings of a kind of progressive caucus.

A ban on corporate contributions? A later primary date? Instant runoff voting? Make your wish lists, goo-goos!

How lame is Vince Gray’s administration?

Gray’s descent into lame-duck status came at an inconvenient time for his administration, which is set to send its 2015 budget to the Council on Thursday. The budget, which will include a request for $300 million for a new hospital to serve Gray’s east-of-the-Anacostia-River base, will be going in front of councilmembers who know Gray’s time with any leverage over them is rapidly dwindling. Gray’s other plans are in jeopardy, too: For one thing, Bowser has raised doubts about the D.C. United stadium deal.

What the election results will mean for the federal investigation into Gray’s 2010 campaign isn’t clear, either. U.S. Attorney Ron Machen has made resignation from office (or withdrawal from elections) a part of every plea deal he’s struck with his Wilson Building targets so far. Now that the voters have already taken care of that with Gray, will that slow Machen’s drive to indict him? (Machen’s spokesman wouldn’t comment.)

Prosecutors aside, Gray has, at least, one fewer public enemy today than he did last week. Bowser declined to take shots at her now-toothless primary opponent Wednesday. Instead of taking the opportunity to say the Council should disregard Gray’s budget, Bowser said only that she and her colleagues (and rival Catania) should review the budget like they would for any mayor. But with Bowser claiming that her 44 percent win means she has a mandate for a “new vision,” Gray might want to get over his loss and pick up the phone.

Correction: Due to a reporting error, this story initially misstated the length of Jim Graham's Council tenure.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Got a tip for LL? Send suggestions to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 650-6925.

  • Fact Check

    Jim Graham has been on the Council for over 15 years, not 13 as the article states.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Moving on to the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act and raising the minimum wage until the general. Do find some different material between now and then Will. You can only talk about the primary and keep readers interested but for so long. Or do we go to City Desk for that. You are overly obsessing at the expense of the world happening around you.

  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    Will Muriel Bowser offer Joshua Lopez a 6 figure salary in government? I can't stand this little surly troll.

  • 7r3y3r

    @DCShadyBoots - Slow your roll. Will posted this article the day after the election. You act like it's been weeks.

  • Ray

    The low number of votes for Gray in this past election (as compared to 2010), may be due to a number of factors -- not necessarily related to Thompson funding or a 'get out the vote' campaign.

  • tony

    I understand that there's another candidate running for the at large council seat. I wonder who it is?

  • ward5

    I was in Gray TEAM. I just signed to Help Catania . Catania for Mayor.

  • tony

    In all honesty, I am not sure that Bowser can really beat Catania.

    Catania entire strategy will be to attack Bowser's legislative record which is thin at best. He will attempt to demonstrate in a profound way that Bowser lacks the managerial "know- how" to be Mayor of a major city.

    His attacks on her vision and plans for the city will be sharp and withering.

    Bowser will find it very difficult to unite her foes' voters.

    Again, I am not sure that Bowser can beat Catania.

    Black folks in this city as a whole will soon realize how much damage can be done when a community is divided.

  • drez

    All this talk will seem quite silly soon.
    Dems will close ranks and leave Catania out in the cold.

  • REALDC

    Ha, not so fast Bowser, there is a general election. 7 months is long time in elections even when the town is more than 70% Democrat.

    Some points this article failed to include:

    -Bowser is an idiot!
    -All of the Gray supporters will get behind Bowser.... why? Party affiliation is less important on a local level. The better candidate will win.
    -Another chapter in the Gray-Fenty war will unfold. How did Bowser get 70% of the vote in ward 3? 64% of the vote in ward 2? And win ward 6 over Tommy? But get 49% in her home ward, 4. And she did nothing in wards 5, 7 and 8. But wards 5, 7 and 8 will all of sudden jump behind her? Won't happen.
    -Did I mention, Bowser is an idiot?
    -Lets see, now she will run as the "Black" candidate....... right, play the race card against Catania because he will play the intelligent card against her.
    -Bowser is an idiot!

    BTW- it is laughable that Bonds get re-elected with leaving her home or office...smh. She took Fleming, Settles and Rubio and slap the s*** out of them without even standing up...hilarious! Sad for DC but "Boogie" Bonds got it like that...."geriatric" sister does nothing, not even campaign and gets re-elected. SMH!

    Catania will make it interesting! Watch!

  • tony

    I sure hope so. But I am not too sure.

    Nearly 50 percent of the people who voted for Bowser were voting against Gray. Will they vote for her when the opposition is not Gray?

    That's the question.

  • stick2yourguns

    #teamcatania, and yes josh lopez will be paid high 6 figures and won't have to do or produce anything.

    bowser will be the face of the mayors pffice and not calling any of the shots...even her own people know she is an idiot.

    Catania will tear her to shreds because he actually is smart and this is not a party vote

    oh and don't forget Ron Moten & the Peaceoholics will be back to being millionaires because she she will give them every grant under the sun as well as all the felons she had working on her campaign group homes to open all across the city.

  • stick2yourguns

    and don't forget bowser said she would not vote for her own party if Gray won...she said LIVE on channel 9 that she would vote for Catania if she would have lost to Gray....you can't pay somebody to be this dumb.

  • We’llSee

    @LL - I have read with interest(nearly)all of your writing (notice "writing" not "reporting")on the primary but this is the first time I feel compelled to comment. It is regarding your second point, "How much did the lack of a shadow campaign hurt Vince Gray?" I really think you missed the mark with this one. In 2010, if you believe the polls back then, Gray was well on his way to defeating Fenty. One of the great ironies of this whole investigation is that the shadow campaign was not even necessary; Gray would have won without it. Polling in this primary indicated that 61% of voters believed Gray was doing a good job and the city was moving in the right direction. About the same percentage believed that the investigation would likely have an impact on their support. Gray's dismal showing was NOT due to the lack of a shadow campaign this time around, but an unethusiastic electorate focused on a corruption investigation. By the way, do you think the next time you (or any of your colleagues) points to Bowser's 44% win; can you also give those numbers some perspective by pointing out that a dismally low turnout of only 22% of registered voters does not a mandate make.

  • We’llSee

    Oh, and one more thing; could all of you writers and reporters please stop referring to Ms. Bowser as "the presumptive nominee"? We should all have figured out that DC is a different city and the way things have happened in the past are not necessarily the way they will go this time around. Never before have the Dems had a formidable opponent going into the general election. And while I expect that the Green Team will soften up that arrogance, aloofness and vitrolic personality that both Fenty and Bowser are famous for (infamous?)don't be surprised to see a significant number of Gray supporters going Catania's way. But I'm sure whatever Geppetoes are pulling Marionette Muriel's strings are already at work on her makeover; though I have no idea what they'll do about that weak legislative record. Despite the unique strange bedfellows that are the hallmark of DC politics, don't think that people; despite race, party affiliation, SES status, don't care about which candidate can get the job done. And they will look at the record more than listen to platitudes.

  • Mario

    To quote the late, great Gil Scott-Heron, "Well, the first thing I want to say is: Mandate my ass!"
    Due to primary rules and a pathetic slate of viable candidates, 8% of registered voters in DC voted for her. If she wants to call that a mandate, she'll be the worst mayor ever.

  • Josephine Makelson

    For the record, Bowser has no victory!! Over 300,000 DC registered voters did not vote in the recent primary election---many because they did not support any of the candidates. This is not a good sign nor is it a good sign for her. If I were Bowser, I would not be shouting success or victory right now (nor would I be stating that the "people" have spoken")---because in actuality she won nothing other than a confirmed chance for her name to be placed on the November ballot. Seven months is a long time and---a long time to give people a chance to really see that she may not be the right one to run this city. We need experience now more than ever. We do not need a mayor in training!!!!

  • Alf

    Well, then I think we should follow candidate Bowser's suggestion and vote for Catania in the fall!

    Catania is smart, knows where the needs are and has some good sense on how to save yet spend money so that it reaches those in need -- not just those contractors and others who are well connected. He's run city wide for some time and has credibility and a network across the city.

  • tony

    Personally, I could never support Catania for Mayor. However, I am not sure that Bowser can defeat him.

    I really think that Mayor Gray’s supporters should consider mounting and supporting a WRITE-IN campaign. I honestly believe that the primary election was "tainted" to the degree that the entire election was compromised.

    A WRITE-IN campaign will allow the mayor's supporters an opportunity to consider him in the general election. More importantly, such efforts ensures that no group of voters will be “disenfranchised”.

    Again, I can't support David Catania for Mayor.

  • REALDC

    Agree with all after my previous post.

    Bowser did not break 50% in her own ward. While she has her support in ward 4, she also has her enemies.

    This general election race is setting up to be a historical one. DC can go non-democrat, non-black for the first time under home rule because Bowser is ding-bat that depends on "extenuating circumstances" to win.

    Catania will end the Fenty-Gray war once and for all!!

    Catania will kick the "dummy" from ward 4's AZZ!!

  • DCShadyBoots

    Well, this is all fuel for Catania in the general.

    His winning strategy is to illuminate the things that he has DONE for the African American community, the poor, on education, etc. in his 15 years on the Council that Murial Bowser only TALKS about but hasn't in 7 year on the Council. His record isn't as conservative as his surly attitude may be. Then he debates on those topics and holds her accountable to her thin resume'. He has to hire a bridge builder to wards 5, 7 & 8. Someone whom all those people trust, yet has the trust, also, of every other ward in the city. They should use the the ugliness that Bowsers' supporters have expressed towards Gray, his supporters against her. Gain their support, then target the 75% of registered Democrats that didn't bother to show up to vote in the primary. He attitude is no more surly than Chris Christy and he was able to sway Democratic votes in the blue state of New Jersey. Democrats in the District resonate with real results just as they do in New Jersey.

    The Democratic Party in DC is broken and I fear Bowser would be a very big mistake for this city; and Democrats. It would be the Pro-Fenty vs. the Anti-Fenty fighting all over again. It is starting already. The Democratic pettiness, in-fighting and immaturity is beginning to be too much.

    Perhaps it is time for the party to be sidelined for a political cycle to get ourselves together.

  • drez

    The dem party leadership and elected representatives are united behind the nominee.
    I can't think of a single notable exception.

  • Typical DC BS

    There was one HUGELY positive development from this primary election - MISS GRAHAM IS SOON TO BE GONE!!!!!!!!!

  • REALDC

    @drez- The VOTERS?

  • DontSleeponDude

    The Bowser Dilemma. MB was elected without a mandate but rest assure, with Catania in the race, she will need a mandate in order to become Mayor. Going into the primary, she did not have "true believers" -- just a group of Fentycrats mostly led by government contractors or developers that want access. There is no Movement behind her candidacy, and to many she doesn't represent anything that people relate to, and are inspired by. So unless she can step up, and take Catania on, she will not be elected in the General Election. Some thoughts:

    1. Catania is smart, shrewd and tactical. He will draw a very stark contrast between him and her for voters to decide: experience and accomplishment vs. amateur and not ready for prime time. He has already won citywide elections. Lets face it, he does have appeal in this heavily democratic city. Even now, he is drawing stark contrasts between him and MB, in terms of what he has accomplished on the Council, and what she hasn't delivered on the Council (education).

    2. Democrats are divided and she will have an uphill battle to unify them. The Gray voters view her as the second coming of Fenty. Think about this, pretend that Fenty beat Gray in the primary of 2010, and Fenty was running against Catania. The is NO way that Gray's voters would have voted for Fenty--too much venom. Likewise, MB will have a hard time motivating Gray's voters to vote for her in the Fall. The vast majority of them will stay at home.

    3. Evans & Well voters. These voters who are primarily white are going to vote for Catania. Anyone that says differently is being disingenuous. Catania is independent, and will not be advocating some "Mitt Romney" crap. Expect his message to be politically acceptable in DC and represent real change, which will appeal to the Evans & Wells voters.

    And, lets be real, these voters didnt want Gray in office, yet they cast their votes for Evans/Wells (two who had ZERO chance of winning the primary)--rather than Bowser. Why did they passed on her: they were much more willing to risk Gray being re-elected then to vote for her. So imagine in the fall, when they are presented with a seasoned, sharp, substantively tight, independent candidate like Cantania--advocating good government.

    The Sad thing is that the WashPost endorsed her to take Gray out. And, with Gray out the picture, they will dump her--like the Republican Party did The Bowser Dilemma. MB was elected without a mandate but rest assure, with Catania in the race, she will need a mandate in order to become Mayor. Going into the primary, she did not have "true believers" -- just a group of Fentycrats mostly led by government contractors or developers that want access. There is no Movement behind her candidacy, and to many she doesn't represent anything that people relate to, and are inspired by. So unless she can step up, and take Catania on, she will not be elected in the General Election. Some thoughts:

    1. Catania is smart, shrewd and tactical. He will draw a very stark contrast between him and her for voters to decide: experience and accomplishment vs. amateur and not ready for prime time. He has already won citywide elections. Lets face it, he does have appeal in this heavily democratic city. Even now, he is drawing stark contrasts between him and MB, in terms of what he has accomplished on the Council, and what she hasn't delivered on the Council (education).

    2. Democrats are divided and she will have an uphill battle to unify them. The Gray voters view her as the second coming of Fenty. Think about this, pretend that Fenty beat Gray in the primary of 2010, and Fenty was running against Catania. The is NO way that Gray's voters would have voted for Fenty--too much venom. Likewise, MB will have a hard time motivating Gray's voters to vote for her in the Fall. The vast majority of them will stay at home.

    3. Evans & Well voters. These voters who are primarily white are going to vote for Catania. Anyone that says differently is being disingenuous. Catania is independent, and will not be advocating some "Mitt Romney" crap. Expect his message to be politically acceptable in DC and represent real change, which will appeal to the Evans & Wells voters.

    And, lets be real, these voters didnt want Gray in office, yet they cast their votes for Evans/Wells (two who had ZERO chance of winning the primary)--rather than Bowser. Why did they passed on her: they were much more willing to risk Gray being re-elected then to vote for her. So imagine in the fall, when they are presented with a seasoned, sharp, substantively tight, independent candidate like Cantania--advocating good government.

    The Sad thing is that the WashPost endorsed her to take Gray out. And, with Gray out the picture, they will dump her--like the Republican Party did Herman Cain--and endorse Catania. Real Talk Cain--and endorse Catania.

  • DontSleeponDude

    CP--dont know how my post got added twice in one post. sorry.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Correct @REAL, DC Democrats are as unified now as they were when Vincent Gray defeated Adrian Fenty in 2010. It isn't about the establishment leadershp, it is about the voters. #Drez should know more than anyone how democrats can hold a grudge for 4 years.

    It may be time for new leadership for a voting cycle to all Democrats a time to get their collective shit together.

  • HUAlum71

    DCShadyBoots, your post was so nice it printed itself twice. You are right on the money Dude. Catania is just what DC needs right now to put an end to what appears to be the inept Democrat Party of DC.

    The last two mayoral elections and the aftermath of same show the need for new blood in the Wilson Building. I never thought I'd see the day when it was so obvious how non-elected people truly control candidates like Fenty and Bowser.

    There was no shame in Peter Nickles' game when he appeared on Bruce DePuyt's show Thursday morning and asked Gray supporters to get behind his new puppet. Not so new, now that I think of it; but his newest puppet in the quest for the mayor's seat.

    Anybody who said they supported Gray and then goes over to support Bowser is either a fool, desperate, a part of some subterfuge or all of the above. The people who want the best for Washington DC cannot possibly think Muriel Bowser is ready to be the Mayor of anything but Petworth.

    Vince Gray said it best: Let's take her at her word and vote for Catania since we didn't want her to win much more than she didn't want Gray to win. We didn't want Muriel to win because she is not the best person for the job. Her handlers are certainly not the best suited for the job. They are conniving thieves, scoundrels and crooks.

    DAVID CATANIA IS FOCUSED, HE IS ON A LEVEL WITH VINCE GRAY INTELLECTUALLY, HE IS ARTICULATE, HE DOES HIS JOB ON THE COUNCIL AS WELL AS GRAY DID HIS, AND HE IS OPEN ABOUT WHAT SHOULDN'T REALLY MATTER: HIS ALTERNATE LIFESTYLE.

    I have listened to many staunch Gray supporters who are willing to help Catania in the General. They are not looking for anything in return other than a change in the way things have become in DC politics.

    Brown, Thomas and Brown were embarrassing; Gray was a huge disappointment in that he didn't seem to have learned his lesson when he put his campaign in the hands of incompetents. I think I understand why he did it, but he should have listened to those who tried to tell him he was making a huge mistake. He let too many foxes in the henhouse and they devastated his slim chances at winning.

    Vincent Gray will survive this unfortunate situation and he will be a better man because of it. With campaign advisers like those he had, he didn't need Muriel Bowser and the Fenty Brigade to lose. Once he has time to really tease out the kinks and realize who and what it really was that caused him to lose the election it will be too late.

    Not because the election was lost, but because those fake campaign advisers who caused him to lose supporters will have long since joined the Muriel/Nickles bandwagon (if they hadn't already) and left Gray standing on the side of the road watching to parade go by.

    We care about you Vince and we wish you the very best. We know you are a survivor and we know you will continue to do well for the rest of your life. What we wish for you is that you finally learn to be more cautious in who you choose to be your allies.

  • Anonymous,Too

    "The Sad thing is that the WashPost endorsed her to take Gray out. And, with Gray out the picture, they will dump her--like the Republican Party did Herman Cain--and endorse Catania."

    @DontSleeponDude--Um, no. Once the The Post saw its preferred candidate Jack Evans going nowhere, it endorsed Bowser--just as it endorsed Fenty back in 2010--because it thinks she can be controlled.

    Catania can't be controlled. In fact, he has spent the last year and more getting up to speed on the disastrous DCPS situation and will probably figure out a way to fix it. If his solutions are not to the Post's liking, the endorsement will stay in Muriel's column.

  • stick2yourguns

    Please note that Bowser did not win at her own polling place which means her own neighbors did not want her to win.

  • GayandProud

    Are you going to stick to the Barbara Milkulski route, or will you just come out already Muriel!? It is 2014 and we want to meet your girlfriend!

  • Rob

    @HUAlum71...great comments.

  • tony

    I hope the last election teaches D.C.'S black leaders one thing: Don't forget the people who put you there, period!

  • EP Sato

    Charles Allen is a douchebag. CMs who work with him should expect to do all the work, and for CM Allen to have a big press conference once the bill passes...where he forgets to invite all the people who did the heavy lifting.

    Seriously, he's a jerk in person. Very disagreeable, arrogant, full of himself, and with very little to offer. You get what you paid for Ward 6. Enjoy your douchebag Councilmember.

  • SayWhat

    David Catania is just like Fenty, smart without a damn bit of common sense. Socially retarded, might have great idea's but can't pull people together long enough to agree or disagree. Catania not only hates people, but he hates himself, now how can we elect him as Mayor and he has contempt for the very people that he wants to make him Mayor of this diverse city? Can't and shouldn't happened. Oh and by the way Muriel is smart, I don't think a dumb person would have the ability to win all of her races including Mayor elect. So get over yourselves. Go Muriel!

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