Meet the 11 candidates who are running for District mayor
Politics is dirty business – look no further than today’s congress. D.C. politics, though, is an especially muddy affair. The city has been lovingly nicknamed the “District of Corruption” for a reason. For example, former mayor Marion Barry was caught smoking crack in office in 1990 (long before Rob Ford made it cool). Upon realizing he had been duped by an FBI sting operation, Barry memorably declared, “that bitch set me up!”
Vox would be remiss if he did not note that Barry, upon his release from prison, was re-elected as mayor. Clearly there is a high bar for politics in D.C. With this in mind, the 11 candidates for the city’s next mayor do not disappoint.
Jack Evans, current Democratic councilman for Ward 2, is considered a front-runner for the April 1 Democratic primary. The primary, considering that a Republican never has been elected mayor by popular vote in the city’s history, may as well be the election. He’s an ardent liberal with a solid legislative track record, especially concerning LGBTQ rights. But questionable financial dealings loom large over his campaign.
Vincent Gray, a Democrat and the district’s semi-popular, sitting mayor, was a late-comer in the primary race, announcing his re-election bid halfway through the preliminary petition-circulation period. Gray’s successful 2010 campaign was revealed (after-the-fact) to be tainted by cronyism and campaign finance irregularities – missteps that cast a long shadow over his second go-around.
Vincent Orange, an at-large Democratic councilman, has already had the dubious honor of being the subject of Vox’s ridicule, for campaign finance irregularities (noticing a trend yet?) and abuse of power. That said, he’s a born-and-bred populist, whose bombast has already proven to have a certain electoral resonance across the district.
Tommy Wells, a progressive Democrat in the style of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who currently occupies the Ward 6 Council seat, is a strong contender in the lead-up to April’s primary. Unlike most of his cohort, Wells is essentially scandal-free, though his fast-talking, no-holes-barred style of politicking has earned him few friends in elected circles.
Muriel Bowser, current Democratic councilwoman for Ward 4, is very much an up-and-coming figure in District politics. She’s yet to serve a complete term in the D.C. Council, but her inexperience in the “District of Corruption” may be as much a selling point as a drawback for her. Her political record is clean, save for a minor hiccup back in 2007, when The Washington Post raised conflict-of-interest concerns about her relationships with property developers who supported her campaign.
Andy Shallal, the activist owner of the popular Busboys and Poets and Eatonville restaurants, began his first-ever foray into politics with great fanfare, but has since fallen towards the back of the pack. His extreme leftism, particularly towards Israel, has perhaps made him more of an outsider than he originally intended.
Lesser-known democrats include Reta Jo Lewis, a state department veteran, Carlos Allen, a musician, and Christian Carter, a government contractor. Recent polls put them at around one percent.
Non-Democratic contenders Bruce Majors, of the Libertarian Party, and one “Faith,” of the D.C. Statehood Green Party, are slated to fade into obscurity in all-blue D.C., despite having survived the petition round.
Photo: Tommy Wells via Flickr