February 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Say no to Mara: Vote against hypocrisy

Republican Patrick Mara has announced another run for Council-at-Large in the District. I endorsed Mara in a 2008 race to elect a non-Democrat to the Council. During that race many overlooked his Republican views because he was running for a seat on the Council that had to go to a non-Democrat and supporters hoped if he won he would fight for the citizens of D.C. Mara is a very genial guy, great to have a meal or drink with. With that being said there is absolutely no reason for the people of the District to vote for him today and plenty of reasons not to.

Mara talks government reform and the need for honesty and ethics in government, but how can you trust what he says — or know what reforms he would actually support — given the hypocrisy of his support for ultra-conservative Republicans diametrically opposed to what he claims to believe.

Mara actively supports ultra-conservative Republican Party candidates who espouse policies that would harm women, minorities and the LGBT community in D.C. He actively supported Mitt Romney, who believed 47 percent of the American people were takers (including veterans, seniors and the unemployed). Further, Romney claimed that President Obama’s support of issues such as marriage equality, the Dream Act and healthcare for all Americans were simply gifts meant to win a campaign.

Mara was a delegate to the Republican National Convention and actively supported the Romney/Ryan ticket with their all-out war on women and the LGBT community. In fact, Mara was gleeful when blogging from the RNC Convention in Tampa, Fla., including such fun tidbits as, “If you didn’t see Ann Romney last night, you missed a great speech; One of those rare moments when the stage isn’t occupied by a seasoned politician.” Or this one, “The best event of the day was “Nuestra Noche” (sponsored by the American Conservative Union) in Ybor City. Sen. Marco Rubio, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Tagg Romney appeared; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was a no-show.”

Having fun at a convention is fine and part of what a convention is about. But blogging about being excited by Republican politicians and organizations, such as the American Conservative Union, which are incredibly out of touch with the needs of D.C. voters, is another thing.

Mara tells anyone who will listen that he doesn’t agree with the Republican Party platform and personally favors marriage equality and full civil rights for the LGBT community and that he is pro-choice. In doing so, he asks us to overlook his active support for candidates and a party that don’t believe those things. He asks us to overlook his support and work for a party that forced the District to stop spending its own money on needed and legal abortions for poor women; his work for a party whose candidates had as their stated mission to shut down Planned Parenthood; his work for a party whose candidates signed a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage promising to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; and his work for the candidates who opposed a woman’s right to choose. And, truth be told, none of this is new for Mara.

In 2004, when even the Log Cabin Republicans took a principled position to not endorse George Bush for reelection because he opposed gay rights, Mara obviously felt that was not an issue important enough to him and he endorsed Bush. Neither did he consider it important enough that Bush was against D.C. voting rights and said if a D.C. voting rights bill reached his desk he would veto it.

Now Mara wants the support of the people of the District, including Latinos, the LGBT community and women. But why would anyone in those communities support him? Even if voters forgive him the Bush endorsement as old politics, what about this year’s endorsement and work for the Romney/Ryan ticket?

For years, Republican politicians in the District have suggested they should be supported because they will then influence the policies of their party. It is the height of hypocrisy to ask voters to continue to believe that nonsense. With their (and Mara’s) supposed influence over the years, the party has gotten even worse on issues related to women, the poor, minorities and the LGBT community. You can’t influence a party if you support and work for its candidates that have adopted a litany of positions you say you disagree with. And with the city in the best financial shape in years — and the envy of most states — you also can’t claim you are running to correct the economic policies of the city.

Many voters have not yet made up their mind on who to support for this at-large Council seat. I would suggest that one person not deserving of your vote or support for these and other reasons is Patrick Mara.

Mara owns a consulting firm; sits on the school board as a representative of Ward One; and has a stake in Meridian Pint, a popular neighborhood pub. It seems he has plenty to do without sitting on the D.C. Council. I wince when he claims he is a more moral and ethical politician than others on the Council or those running. Ethics must be a real consideration when voting, but there is a huge ethical issue when someone claims to have one set of positions yet actively supports candidates with positions diametrically opposed to them.

Voting for Mara would reward a D.C. Republican, who when the chips were down and the country’s and the District’s future was on the line, disregarded his claimed beliefs and fell in line to support Mitt Romney for president.

That is not only unethical behavior but the height of hypocrisy. There are a host of candidates running who have been much more consistent in standing up for what they say they believe and who haven’t waivered in their fight for all the people of the District.

  • This overheated commentary reads like something designed to rally the already persuaded than to win over the undecided. I myself am a centrist Democrat and certainly do not agree with anyone who supported Romney. But working with people one disagrees with is essential to effective activism. Peter uses loaded terms like “hypocrisy” and “unethical” quite loosely. Can’t someone be wrong about something, really terribly wrong, without being called unethical and hypocritical? Peter also hurled the hypocrisy charge against Ted Olson, one of the lead attorneys in the American Foundation for Equal Rights case against Prop 8, after Olson backed Mitt Romney for President. But as I pointed out to Peter, Olson was a big “get” for the marriage equality cause precisely because he was a conservative Republican, having represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore and served as Solicitor General under him. LGBT issues are as important to me as to Peter, but we are working within a diverse society, and people whose support we seek are bound to have a variety of other causes they care about in addition to ours. Inevitably, some of those concerns will be in some tension with each other. Life is messy.

    I don’t know how Ted Olson or Pat Mara were able to square their support for marriage equality with their support for Mitt Romney; I expect it has something to do with a different philosophy of government. I am glad that their man lost. But voters looking to the April 23 special election may prioritize strong government oversight over preventing a Republican takeover of this overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic town. Some voters might be more worried about public corruption, and a little party diversity might seem just the ticket. There are lots of reasons why people cast their votes. We should be able to argue over our differences without being so quick to call people unethical or hypocritical. Personally, I am waiting to review the responses to GLAA’s questionnaire by Mara and the other candidates before making my choice, especially because I know some of the other candidates less well. (And, while I am proud of GLAA’s fair-minded evaluations, I know those ratings are only one factor to be considered.) Frankly, I suspect Peter’s aggressive tone may do Mara more good than harm by winning him some sympathy.

    • Well said, Rick. My thoughts exactly.

      • Oh please, just like happened in Massachusetts, ‘eh! Lets leave the fear mongering to the teabaggers. I am certainly happy President Obama was reelected but, pulleeeze! Is this you Rosenstein?

    • Whatever one thinks of Peter’s rhetorical choices, he is incontrovertibly correct that “[v]oting for Mara would reward a D.C. Republican, who … disregarded his claimed beliefs and fell in line to support Mitt Romney for president.” Worse than reward him; it would empower him. It is perfectly appropriate to discount any gay rights talk from someone so unconcerned about sacrificing the gay community on an altar of partisan unity in Tampa. Had Mara gotten his electoral wish, we would now be in the second month of a virulently anti-gay administration–watching executive orders fall, witnessing a parade of far-right bigots waltz into federal offices, seeing gay service members living in fear of being driven out of the military by a hostile administration, and waiting helplessly for the appointment of a fifth Justice Scalia. Gay voters can find a more reliable choice than someone like Mara.

    • Rick,

      Although we have sometimes disagreed I have developed a true respect for you over the years. I often look at or wait for your views on a subject before forming my own conclusions.

      Are you familiar with the concept of casting pearls before swine? Certainly you are. It truly pains me that you lower yourself to the level of a Peter Rosenstein by even commenting on his hot air, much less in the pages of the Baltimore Blade. It is rather akin to Edgar R. Murrow responding to Kim Kardashian. Every time you follow up on his bloviating you impugn your own credibility while giving the false impression to the power that is at The Blade that there is some good reason to keep wasting column space on this irrelevant hack. Its too bad that there isn’t really an editor anymore to cut this drivel. See you on the boulevard!


  • As a lifelong active Democrat, I’m saddened by this rabid attack on the social liberal, pro-LGBT, pro-choice, and reformer Pat Mara. I heard all the same rhetoric when David Catania first ran. I nearly bought into it, but voted for David nonetheless; I haven’t been disappointed yet. Peter’s rhetoric here is an example of the very dynamic that is crippling governance on the national level. We have no need for what ails Congress, or what spews forth from too many cable TV hot heads, to fog over our vision here in the District. We see municipal woes including: ethics morass (which Peter repeatedly encourages us to overlook); shabby contracting, which hurts our needy esp. in social services; ongoing education challenges; NIMBYs stifling the very businesses that offer DC’s struggling residents a paycheck; and much more. Remember: the first time Pat ran, he was pioneering marriage equality; and the most recent time he ran, he defeated an incumbent school board member presently mentioned in a contract-rigging scandal. Socially liberal, pro-gay, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-schools Republicans may be a highly endangered species. But if a Jack Heinz or Millicent Fenwick–or, indeed, Pat’s old boss John Chafee–were to be cloned and offer themselves as alternatives to our shabby City Council, how foolish would even we Dems be today to reject them? I’ve no idea why Pat remains registered as he does, and I’ll continue to fondly encourage him to switch. But in the meantime, this longtime active Dem is voting for Pat Mara on April 23. We have nothing to fear but Peter’s fear itself, oh and business as usual in the Wilson Building.

    • David Catania refuses to support the national Republican Party as long as it continues demonizing gays. Patrick Mara eagerly supports the national Republican Party while it continues demonizing gays. Huge difference.

    • Tell us how socially liberal, pro-LGBT, and pro-choice Mara was when gleefully tweeting from the Republican National Convention and celebrating the nomination of Mitt Romney for president.

      • Very, actually, as he’d lobbied inside that convention for positions such as pro-LGBT equality, pro-choice, pro-District and more. I’m a lifelong active Dem, I completely disagree with that party and their candidate, but Pat was pro Huntsman originally, and I’m not going to bash people that work for progress within an institution that I personally find wrongheaded to say the least. There are LGBT and pro-choice Catholics who stay inside and fight, same with some GOPers. Endangered species, granted, and they’ll face attacks from the sidelines, but I’m not going to begrudge, much less smear, their tangible work for progress within those entities.

  • Peter, I appreciate your sentiment but couldn’t one argue that Mara’s support for Romney is less relevant on a local basis than your October 2012 endorsement of Michael Brown where you stated:

    “While I would rather that Michael A. Brown got his personal and campaign house in order so that there isn’t a question of poor ethics hanging over him, I still support him.”

    I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have a few caveats when I cast my ballot, including for Barack Obama in 2012. If you want to denigrate Mara’s suitability for an at-large seat, then do it straight up based on the positions that relate to the city, not on his support for Mitt Romney. A hypocrisy argument just isn’t credible based on some of your past pronouncements.

    • The District of Columbia is a federal enclave. That means federal issues are always local issues, or did you forget that decade when the federal government banned D.C. from spending even local revenue to implement our domestic partnership law?

      • Did you forget, Stephen, that Pat has served on the Board of DC Vote, and has lobbied congressional Rs and Ds alike, for DC budget autonomy? In fact, Pat has shown strategic leadership as a voice for putting more emphasis into achieving budget autonomy, which is achievable now, while we all additionally aim for other goals such as statehood, a floor vote, etc. The continued attemtps to smear Pat as somehow undermining District independence just won’t hunt.

  • I’m going to play the lottery today, as I find myself in near total agreement with Rick.

    My thing is LGBT public safety. I’m a Democrat, too. But there is nothing particularly Dem/liberal or GOP/conservative about demanding our responsible local government officials do their duty to protect LGBTs from violent hate crime.

    Our two Democratic Party mayors and our current Council Chair (as former Chair of Council’s Public Safety and Judiciary Committee) have failed to protect the lives and physical well-being of LGBT residents from violent crimes. And, as was reported by Human Rights Watch 5 weeks ago, they have also failed to protect women from MPD abuse and coverups of rape and sex assaults.

    The late Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill famously advised, “all politics is local.” That’s good cautionary advice, too, for DC Dems who treat the public safety of their constituents with contempt and neglect.

  • In response to my comment, Stephen Clark suggested that I was short-sighted because of the history of federal obstructionism in district matters. So just to be clear, I am quite aware of the DC governance structure. My point was simply that in the context of a local DC council race, Mara’s support for Romney/Ryan is about as relevant as Marion Barry’s support for Obama/Biden. I don’t think voting the GOP presidential ticket categorically disqualifies you any more than I think voting the Democratic ticket makes you acceptable.

  • Patrick is a Republican, just like the Mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Dick Cheney. So, vote for a Democrat who supports Obama and drone strikes on innocent children around the world in the name of protecting our freedom.

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