The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, Thursday night endorsed Democrat Kenyan McDuffie for the May 15 special election to fill a vacant Ward 5 seat on the D.C. City Council.
McDuffie received 74 percent of the vote by club members in a second-ballot runoff against second place candidate Drew Hubbard, who received 23.8 percent of the vote.
McDuffie received 54.7 percent on the first ballot, in which seven of the twelve candidates set to appear on the ballot competed for the club’s endorsement. All seven attended and spoke at a Stein Club forum, where the endorsement vote took place, at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters at 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
Under Stein Club rules, candidates must obtain at least 60 percent of the vote from the membership to win an endorsement.
The other candidates appearing before the forum, each of whom expressed support for LGBT equality, received 5 percent of the vote or less in the first-round voting.
“I’m very pleased over receiving the Gertrude Stein endorsement,” McDuffie told the Blade after the vote. “I think it pretty much formalizes what’s always been the case – that I’ve been a staunch supporter of LGBT concerns, marriage equality and everything that matters to folks in this community.”
McDuffie said he hopes to tap what he calls a “sizable” number of LGBT residents in Ward 5, especially in the Bloomingdale and Brookland neighborhoods.
The other candidates who spoke at the endorsement forum, in addition to McDuffie and Hubbard, were Democrats Shelly Gardner, Kathy Henderson, Ron Magnus, Ruth Marshall, and Frank Wilds.
Republican candidate Tim Day, who is gay, has been endorsed in the Ward 5 special election by the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans. The Stein Club’s bylaws prevent it from endorsing non-Democrats.
Under city election rules, candidates of all parties as well as independents are eligible to run in special elections.
Stein Club president Lateefah Williams said she was pleased that McDuffie won the club’s endorsement.
“He’s an excellent candidate and has a chance of winning,” Williams said, in a multi-candidate race where the vote is likely to be split between several candidates.
David Mariner, executive director of the D.C. LGBT Community Center, served as moderator of at the forum, presenting written questions submitted from members of the audience.
One of the questions asked where the candidates stand on a controversial proposal by the city to open on ore more marijuana cultivation centers in warehouse districts in Ward 5 to facilitate a recently implemented D.C. medical marijuana law. Each of the candidates said they support the law’s intent of providing doctor prescribed marijuana for medical purposes but oppose Ward 5 becoming a “dumping ground” for such facilities.
Each of the candidates also said they would work to vigorously enforce the city’s non-discrimination laws for gay, lesbian and transgender residents of the city and would take steps to provide job training for a segment of the transgender residents, especially transgender women, who are believed to have a high rate of unemployment.