And then there were ten (candidates for mayor)
The already-crowded pack of Democrats vying for their party’s 2014 D.C. mayoral nomination has swollen to ten, with restaurateur Andy Shallal and at-large councilman Vincent Orange joining the contest as of last week. With 75 percent of District’s voters registered as Democrats, whoever wins the April 1 primary wins the city.
While both candidates have impressive qualifications for the job, they also bring considerable political baggage to the table.
Shallal, an Iraqi-born entrepreneur, owns and operates bustling D.C. venues such as Busboys and Poets. He is a tried-and-true progressive, albeit one with no formal political experience. “I’m an activist, and I happen to be in business,” Shallal said of in a 2011 Washington Post profile. Shallal’s pet causes include patronage of local artists, promotion of inter-religious dialogue, sustainability, and, un-ambitiously, world peace. In 2011, he was arrested outside the White House during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Shallal may well run into trouble as D.C.’s election season really kicks off, though, for being perhaps too progressive. He is a vehement critic of American and Israeli policy vis-à-vis Palestine. During another protest, he spoke of a “plan to create to a new American-Israeli century” wherein “those who dare to speak out will be squashed.” Uh…
Orange, a political insider, is a whole other animal. Formerly the representative for Ward 5 on the D.C. Council, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of D.C. in 2006. His return to politics came in 2011, when he regained a seat on the Council following the resignation and subsequent arrest of Kwame Brown, on charges of violating campaign finance laws. Orange, an accountant and lawyer by training, has been involved in the recent debate over raising the District’s minimum wage.
Orange’s political record isn’t exactly squeaky clean. For starters, his successful 2011 campaign is under federal investigation for financial irregularities stemming from undisclosed donations. He was also implicated in a minor scandal wherein he stalled a D.C. Department of Health inspection of a business owned by one of his political backers. His conduct earned him an a “punishment” of sorts from the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. But the really good stuff can be found here: an anonymously-created parody site entitled “Vincent for Mayor” that details some of Orange’s more questionable conduct.
Of course, with speculation rife that current mayor Vincent Gray may yet enter the electoral fray, Orange and Shallal may find themselves overshadowed. And you thought New York City had crazy elections.
Photo: Awiseman via Wikipedia