Loose Lips

Not Even Ward 4 Gets a Break From Bowser’s “No Debates” Rule

Three months after winning the Democratic nomination, mayoral hopeful Muriel Bowser isn't budging on her commitment not to debate her opponents until they officially make the ballot. Even the possibility of a home-court advantage hasn't swayed the Bowser campaign, with the councilmember's campaign recently rejecting an offer organized by Advisory Neighborhood Commission members in Bowser's own Ward 4.

Representatives from multiple ANC's in Bowser's home ward tried to schedule a debate between the mayoral candidates for later this month. The Bowser campaign refused to participate, though, according to one organizer.

“We thought that because Muriel was from Ward 4 and we were the advisory neighborhood commissioners that she would agree to do this," says Martha Mitchell, who was asked to be one of the panelists at the forum.

Bowser campaign spokesman Bo Shuff says that, Ward 4 or not, Bowser won't face her opponents until the D.C. Board of Elections certifies their nominating signatures to make the ballot. That won't come until early September.

“The same thing applies," Shuff says. "We’re not doing any forums until after the field is set."

Cue David Catania campaign manager Ben Young, who says that Bowser's continued avoidance of both debates and a joint appearance on WAMU's The Politics Hour are an attempt to dodge his candidate. During the primary, Bowser participated in a debate before the ballot was set.

“It continues to be disappointing that there's a mayoral election going on and the candidates can’t get together and talk about the issues," Young says.

Shuff says that the Ward 4 ANC members can give scheduling a debate another shot later this year, after it's clear who made the ballot.

“If they schedule a debate after the field is set, then we will look at it just like any other invitation," Shuff says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • ohmy

    She is scared? This indicates how non responsive she will be as a mayor. People are literally begging to hear her views...no response. How can you connect with people when you refuse to talk...basic ingrediance in any relationship. Your own ward...no debate. I certainly will let my Democratic friends know this...many of us are undecided and looking to connect with her. Parades will not do it alone...we are not concern about endorsements...we are people with power. WE VOTE...now endorse the common folk. Stop hiding

  • justsayin

    It's pretty arrogant for ANY candidate to assume that they have little more to do than toss beads and host fundraisers in order to sway their detractors. I've lived in Ward 4 since before Fenty was elected to the council, and still don't know what the hell Bowser stands for or how she would defend her positions to convince the voters that she is better than her opponents. Bowser and her campaign need to harness their strong confidence into an appearance with her opponents and stop taking the voters for granted. Not every registered voter CAN vote in the DC primary elections, so they shouldn't be so smug about those primary results.

  • Skeptic

    Yup, it's a real F-U to the voters and if we elect Muriel, we're acknowledging that that's what we expect from our Mayors.

    I think that the Ward 4 ANC Commissioners (and every other group that wants a debate) should hold its forum and leave an empty seat (marked with the name) for each no-show candidate. We don't have to put up with this BS.

  • Overblown

    I don't blame her. There were a million debates during the primary. I'm ok with them waiting a little longer before starting them up again. Plus it's just free advertisement for all of the candidates that need help getting there name out. Why would she give them credibility by sitting on a stage with them before they make the ballot?

  • drez

    There's a pretty good takedown of the whole "debate" non-troversy here:

  • lost cause

    running from david but you want the people to trust you with our entire city. not gonna happen. and even if their were debates before these two have never had a debate about our city, nor policies.

  • DC John

    Love the idea of the Ward 4 ANCs having the debate without her and leaving an empty chair which right now matches her empty suit.

  • Roscoe’s Wetsuit

    Muriel Bowser has done the city a tremendous service by ridding us of the ongoing One City joke/ crime spree. Whether or not she actually becomes mayor is immaterial as Catania is skilled candidate and virtually identical from a policy perspective - actually that's just an assumption as nobody knows what policies Muriel is for or against.

  • SayWhat

    Look people, you sound crazy, fuck Benjamin Young, who the hell is he? Muriel shouldn't debate any of them until they qualify as legitimate candidates. It probably is the Malson's pushing this dumb shit for David Catania. No darn debate for you Councilmember David Catania, because that's what you are, a Councilmember, not the Mayor elect, so you and your chief of staff get over yourselves.

  • S.E.

    "No darn debate for you Councilmember David Catania, because that's what you are, a Councilmember, not the Mayor elect,"


  • Roscoe’s Wetsuit

    @SayWhat: "No darn debate for you Councilmember David Catania, because that's what you are, a Councilmember, not the Mayor elect"

    - Uhh, Say what?

    Wow - this is onecitidiot level dumb. seDCdude, is that you? SEis4ME? tony? Noodlez? Seriously, who came up with this?

  • justsayin

    Skip all that debating, electing and stuff. Let's just go forward with the coronation of the heir apparent.

  • DCShadyBoots

    God Forbid do not give Muriel Bowser a microphone and ask her to talk.

  • SaveWard7

    She needs to debate in order to inform the Citizens in Washington, DC of her plans for the Citizens in this City.

    For example, this TRAMP is stating that after she is elected The Mayor of our City, she plans to have a "special deputy mayor" position created. The only focus for this person will be to "work on" Wards 7 & 8. How insulting!!! Is this how she sees the hard working Citizens living in these two Wards. We are "special needs" children that can't be included in the operational processes for the entire City. I challenge her to come to Wards 7 & 8 and bring that degrading message to us.

    If I have to find anything that crawls and breathes in this City run against her, I WILL. This is an INSULT!!!