Candidates clash at first D.C. mayoral debate

Last Thursday night, the District’s top three mayoral candidates met at American University for the first of three debates.

According to a recent poll, Councilmember Muriel Bowser has 43 percent support among likely voters, while Councilmember David Catania has 26 percent and former Councilmember Carol Schwartz has 16 percent. The poll also revealed that 14 percent of likely voters are still undecided ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

As the night progressed, it was clear that all three candidates were willing to engage in a bit of verbal sparring. An aggressive tone was set early on for the 90-minute debate in the fiery exchanges between frontrunners Bowser, the Democratic nominee, and Catania, an Independent. “If we’re going to interrupt each other, it’s going to be a long debate,” Catania said during the heated discussion on ethics reforms, according to City Paper.

While on the topic of education, Bowser took a shot at Catania’s former job position. “[Parents] want educators running the schools,” she said. “They don’t want M.C. Dean’s lawyer running the schools.” Catania retaliated with the fact that Bowser did not seem so concerned about his chairmanship when she voted for all of his education bills. “You voted for every one of my measures, every last one,” he said.

Schwartz also took part in the barb trading by pointing out that the Council voted to close the LLC loophole in January 2015—just in time for the end of this election.

“And they’ve both been driving their cars through those loopholes,” she said of her opponents. “We have to lead by example.”

The debate concluded with the candidates posing questions to one another. Catania put Schwartz on the spot and brought up her lingering debt to campaign strategist Tom Lindenfeld, which just managed to raise concerns over Bowser’s own scandalous adviser. Bowser completed the negative campaigning trifecta and questioned Schwartz on her prior ties to the Republican Party.

After this initial debate, the odds look pretty good for Bowser as the Democratic nominee in a heavily Democratic city. A second event, a debate to be held October 2 at National Public Radio headquarters, will be broadcast live on WAMU (88.5 FM). The final event, a forum hosted by numerous Ward 8 organizations, will take place at Anacostia High School on October 16.

Video: DCist via UStream

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