Loose Lips

Evans Introduces Election Overhaul Bill

Ward 2 Councilmember and two-time mayoral candidate Jack Evans just spent 298 days running unsuccessfully for office. Now he's got some ideas on what needs changing.

On Tuesday, Evans introduced legislation that includes four big changes to city elections. Evans' bill would move the primary from April to June and establish a separate presidential primary in March to get around federal overseas voting requirements, while also opening primaries to people who aren't registered with that party.

“I can’t tell you the number of people who were very annoyed that they couldn’t vote in this primary," Evans says.

Evans' bill would also reset donors' maximum spending after a primary, meaning that a donor who gave the maximum $2,000 to a successful mayoral candidate in a primary could donate another $2,000 in the general elections. Evans says the current system favors independent challengers like David Catania, who doesn't have to spend money in a bruising primary before reaching the general election, over new Democratic nominees like Muriel Bowser.

“She may be tapped out, have nowhere else to go," Evans says of Bowser's outreach to donors.

Another part of Evans' bill should also appeal to candidates, although not to the rare person who loves the District's interminably long debate schedule. Evans' bill contains language establishing a debate commission, to which civic groups wanting to host mayoral debates would apply.

"You can’t get to all of them, and then you’re frowned upon because you missed a debate," Evans tells LL.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Give it a rest

    Evans would have been better served by a campaign commission or minimum age requirement to prevent candidates from squandering $400.00 a vote on campaigns run by utterly inexperienced, arrogant children.

    Jack, don't know who appointed you bend over boy for the democratic dust farters but the appropriate thing for you to do given the epic scale of your recent embarrassment would be to disappear for awhile.

    If you don't separate yourself from this catastrophe in the public's eye it could haunt you should you seek reelection. Of course, "optics" are not your strong suit.

    Do you really need to make an enemy of Mayor Catania?

  • dcgovcorruption

    As the nominee of the dc democratic party, councilmember bowser can appeal to the donors who contributed to the losing candidates. Also, you should require a run off if the winning candidate fails to get 51% of the votes in their primary.

  • Marvin E. Adams

    As the boys and girls on the Hill are pronged to say, this is a non-starter. The maximum contribution amount should be $20.00 for B-O-T-H corporate and individuals. That is the O-N-L-Y way the playing fields get leveled, absent public financing.

    C'mon fellow residents, let's get this party started...

  • Brightwood Ward 4

    Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in the District should be able to vote in the D.C. primary. D.C. local politics are a joke and Evans is a clown like the rest of his colleagues.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Had Catania ran in the DC Primary, he would have beaten them all.

  • justsayin

    I agree with Brightwood.

  • Anonymous,Too

    “I can’t tell you the number of people who (were) very annoyed that they couldn’t vote in this primary," Evans says.

    And why was that, Jack... because they were too stupid to take advantage of the weeks of early voting?

    Can't wait for U 2 get your butt kicked in 2016!

  • Marvin E. Adams

    #s 4 & 6:

    You are correct that D.C local politics is a joke. But, we, the citizens, are the "fools" for tolerating such! Can we stop talking about it, and start being about it? Si se puede! Will we? Posiblimente!

  • asuka


    I couldn't agree more - Evans has to go.

  • justsayin

    Marvin Adams: I can't speak for anyone else, but for 14 years I've been a registered Independent because I don't need to have everybody like someone in order for me to also like them. My decisions are based on my personal interactions, and observations of a candidate's performance and/or community service in the years preceding their declaration for candidacy, and not based on some flash-in-the-pan type of publcicity. I am assuming that there are many others who feel this way about their voting choices. I would've liked to have voted in the primary, but couldn't because I am an Indy. However, I will be voting in November and writing in a candidate, although I know that they stand no chance of winning, because I don't like the two choices that we will be faced with on the ballot.

  • SPGorman

    Points of information. Primaries are not legally required. Only general elections are legally mandated and any independent can run in them. Any. The only reason primaries even happen at all is because the Council decides to give the political parties a financial gift(s). No party in DC can afford to conduct a city wide primary because it costs up to a $500,000 of taxpayer funds to conduct a single city wide primary. With two primaries, Evans is essentially proposing to give DC Democrats 1 million free taxpayer dollars for operating expenses. Without a primary, the DC Democrats would be quite satisfied with conducting a one day caucus - at their own expense - not yours. Finally, no one ever complains about DC Republicans - which is selecting its full slate of candidates by appointment - or any other DC party.

    If any independent resents the dominance of the Democratic Party and the quality of its candidates, then I suggest they think about what the First Amendment Right of Association really means. Secondly, they should note the declining turnout figures both in primaries and general elections. It should be easier to become a candidate for office, not harder. The real issue is funding. It enables self serving incumbents like Jack Evans to crush any opposition during primaries by collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and every possible legal means such as challenging term limits in court. That is why there is never any turnover.

  • justsayin

    **some sentence restructure for clarification**

    However, because I don't like the two choices that we will be faced with on the ballot, I will be voting in November and writing in a candidate---although I know that they stand no chance of winning.

  • Corky

    People who are not registered with a party should not be able to select that party's nominees. I don;t understand why we should change the rules just to acomodate some damn Republicans. No one said they couldn't field their own slate of candidates. Maybe if they weren't so bat shit crazy, racist and out of touch with reality someone would vote for them. But I DO NOT want Republicans picking who is going to run on the Democratic ticket anymore than they want me picking their candidates!! Fuck that!!

  • drez

    Steve Gorman raises good points.

  • tntdc

    Every other major US city except NYC and DC have now moved to non-partisan mayoral elections. And NYC at least has a runoff.

    San Francisco and Chicago were the two must recent cities to switch.

  • playfair

    Best thing about Jack Evans is his beautiful wife, michelle, she use to teach at lab school she would make a better candiate

  • DC John

    Oh the supreme irony of Jack Evans complaining about our current election laws. This is the same Jack that when the citizens voted years ago to institute term limits, led the charge to actually overturn the will of the people.
    This is the same Jack who admitted at a Gertrude Stein meeting that he was on the Council too long which is why he was running for Mayor.
    This is the same Jack who sent out as part of this year's mayoral campaign a video tour of his (very nice) Georgetown home. What that had to do with the condition of the city is beyond me.
    This is the same Jack who not only failed to carry his own Ward Two but failed to carry a single precinct in it.
    Jack...thanks for all you work but don't you think it is time to move on...become a senior partner at your law firm or perhaps become a professor at one of the city's fine universities which enables your family to attend either free or a reduced rate.

  • Bow tie no more

    A run off would be nice. Bowser being elected with eight percent of the voters is communism.

  • NE John

    Who cares about the Democrat primaries. Catania will be running this town.

  • SayWhat

    Catainia is going to get his clock cleaned! He will be gone for good.

  • Sally

    A voter has the choice to register as Dem. Rep. or Independent etc. so they should not complain about what they get with that choice. Having everyone vote for any candidate at the primary makes this a general election and not a primary. Increasing the amount a candidate can collect only drives up the costs for an election and does not give you a better candidate. Coordinating election forums would be a good idea so all candidates can actually get to a forum and be heard. An early June primary would be a good change from this April 1st primary date.

  • Tight Lips

    April June December, who cares. If people care about your movement and believe in you, they will go to the precinct and vote.

    If you have to changes the rules to voting, then you have already lost. The issue isnt the day you have to vote, the issue is the choices people have to support.

  • 7r3y3r

    A voter has the choice to register as Dem. Rep. or Independent etc. so they should not complain about what they get with that choice.

    @Sally (and @Corky) - I don't care who the Democrats or Republicans or any other party choose as their candidate. What I do care about, however, is that the public funds your party's private election from which a large portion of the public (~25%) is excluded. If a political party wants to exclude people from their elections, they can do so on their own dime.

    DC should have a nonpartisan primary where the top two vote-getters advance to the general. That or a blanket primary if people can't figure out how to deal without party designations on a ballot and think for themselves.

  • DC Native

    Reading these comments about Catania will be running this city???? LOL! I guess everybody has gotten so over indulged in Gentrification must have forgotten DC is still predominately African American.

    Owning a business isn't power but voting is POWER! Catania said to The Washington Blade I quote "If Evans or Wells (Caucasian) wins The Democratic Primary I won't run...But If Gray, or Bowser (African American) Wins I'm running" Unquote. SERIOUSLY!?! Just think how that will sound to African American working class and under served voters?????? whom Catania doesn't care for.

    Catania is difficult to work with. He's considered The gay Rahm Emanuel. DC doesn't need that.