The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, was unable to make an endorsement Tuesday night in the hotly contested race for an at-large D.C. Council seat that must go to a non-Democratic candidate.
Incumbent Councilmember Michael Brown (I-At-Large) came in first place with 48.6 percent of the vote and challenger David Grosso, also an independent, came in second with 40.5 percent in a second ballot vote as announced by Stein Club President Lateefah Williams. A vote for the option of “no endorsement” came to 10.8 percent.
Brown fell short of a required 60 percent vote needed for an endorsement under the Stein Club’s rules.
“It is an honor to have received the [most] votes from the members of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and to be recognized for my one-hundred percent record on LGBTQ issues,” Brown said in a statement released Wednesday.
Grosso, who, like Brown, is campaigning aggressively for votes from the LGBT community, said he was pleased with the support he received as a candidate with less name recognition than Brown.
“Given my first shot at this, I’m really pleased with the outcome,” he said following the vote. “I had a lot of great supporters in the crowd tonight and it was an honor to be here and do this.”
In a first ballot vote, Brown received 43.6 percent of the vote compared to 38.5 percent received by Grosso. Independent candidate A.J. Cooper received 5.1 percent of the first ballot vote and Statehood Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox received 2.6 percent in the first ballot competition, according to Williams.The option of “no endorsement” received 7.7 percent of the vote in the first ballot round.
Cooper and Wilcox were eliminated in the second ballot runoff, which is limited to the two highest vote-getters under club rules.
Williams said 39 club members voted in first round of voting and 37 members voted in the second ballot round.
The vote took place following a Stein Club sponsored forum in which the four candidates appeared at the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Center meeting hall, where the event was held.
Independent candidate Leon Swain Jr. and Republican candidate Mary Brooks Beatty didn’t attend the forum and the two received no votes from club members.
On the Nov. 6 election ballot, city voters have the option of voting for any two of the seven candidates competing for two at-large seats in play, including incumbent Democrat Vincent Orange, who won the Stein Club endorsement earlier this month and didn’t participate in the club’s forum on Tuesday. Although a Democrat, or majority party candidate, is only eligible for one of the two seats, under the city’s election law a non-Democrat can hold both seats if he or she comes in first and second place and the Democrat finishes third or lower.
However, a Democrat has won one of the two at-large seats in every election since the city’s modern home rule government was put in place in 1974.
The four candidates that participated in Tuesday night’s Stein Club forum answered a wide range of questions on LGBT and non-LGBT issues from longtime D.C. Democratic activist and city voting rights advocate Eugene Kinlow, who served as moderator. The candidates also responded to written questions submitted by members of the audience.
All four expressed strong support for LGBT equality, including same-sex marriage rights. But it became clear from audience members that Brown and Grosso had the most support. According to club members, Brown has voted for, introduced, or signed on as a co-sponsor to virtually all LGBT supportive bills or amendments that have come before the Council since he first won election to the seat in 2008
Grosso noted during the forum that he has worked on LGBT related issues as a staff member to former D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6), who now serves as his campaign chairperson; and for Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). Norton and Ambrose are considered among the city’s strongest LGBT community supporters who have held elective office.
Gay libertarian challenges Norton
In other local election news, gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors, who is running against Norton for the city’s congressional delegate seat, won the endorsement this week of GOProud, the national LGBT conservative group that has also endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
“I am running to give people someone to vote for, and to build the local Libertarian Party, and to get the minimum number of votes for them to get ballot status so they can run multiple candidates without the oppressive expense of collecting 5000 signatures for each one each time,” Majors told the Blade.
Majors is one of 24 U.S. House candidates endorsed by GOProud and the one only who isn’t a Republican.
Stein Club set to honor activists at leadership awards event
The Stein Club was scheduled to honor six LGBT activists and one organization Thursday night at its 36th Anniversary Leadership Awards reception for their distinguished serve to the LGBT community. The honorees include:
- Paul Kuntzler, Stein Club co-founder, Dr. Frank Kameny Pioneer Award
- Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Richard Rausch Equality Award
- Danielle Moodie-Mills, advisor for LGBT Policy and Racial Justice, Center for American Progress, Michael Bustamonte and James Zais Political Development Award
- David Perez, president, Latino GLBT History Project, Justice Award
- Jeri Hughes, Transgender Advocate, Transgender Health Empowerment, Heil-Balin Community Service Award
- Greg Cendana, Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Desi Deschaine Young Democrat of the Year Award
- Jerame Davis, Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats, Wanda Alston Democratic Service Award