Incumbent Democrat Anita Bonds won the race for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council in the city’s special election on Tuesday, beating five rivals, including pro-gay Republican Patrick Mara, who drew support from LGBT activists.
But Democratic candidate Elissa Silverman, who came in second place citywide, won in 12 of the city’s 14 precincts identified as having high concentrations of LGBT residents. Mara came in second in the same 12 precincts, with Bonds coming in third.
Bonds won by a wide margin in the two remaining “gay” precincts, one in Anacostia and the other along the Southwest waterfront area, where large numbers of black LGBT residents live.
“I know I have many friends in the LGBT community for which I am blessed,” Bonds told the Blade after delivering her victory speech at the Channel Inn Hotel located on the Southwest waterfront.
“I don’t know how they all voted, but when we look at the data we’ll probably discover that persons who have been members of the community 15 to 20 years, they knew Anita,” she said. “Those who are relatively new to D.C., many didn’t know me or know my record.”
David Meadows, former president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, serves as press secretary for Bonds’ Council office. He noted that Bonds became a member of the Stein Club as a straight ally in 1978, two years after the club was founded, and has been a strong LGBT rights supporter ever since.
“I wouldn’t say it was overwhelming,” Meadows said in describing Bonds’ support among LGBT voters in Tuesday’s election. “But I think that there were many long-term LGBT residents that understood the support that Anita Bonds brought to our community.”
In the citywide race, Bonds received 32 percent of the vote, with Silverman receiving 28 percent. Mara received 23 percent. Democratic candidates Matthew Frumin and Paul Zuckerberg received 11 percent 2 percent respectively. Statehood Green Party candidate Perry Redd also received 2 percent.
As predicted by many political observers, only about 10 percent of the city’s registered voters turned out to vote in the special election, appearing to be one of the lowest turnout elections ever in D.C.
Each of the candidates expressed strong support for LGBT rights, including backing for the city’s same-sex marriage law. Bonds and Silverman drew support from many of the city’s prominent LGBT activists.
Mara also drew support from some of the city’s prominent gay Democratic activists, raising speculation that he could win the race as a reform candidate appealing to Democratic voters, both gay and straight, who yearn for a fresh face on the Council.
But Silverman appears to have won over a majority of the voters that political pundits say Mara attracted in his two previous races for a City Council seat.
Silverman came in first in Wards 1 and 6, where large numbers of LGBT voters live. Mara won in Ward 2, which also has large numbers of LGBT residents, and in Ward 3, where the majority of the city’s registered Republicans reside. Silverman’s win over Mara in Ward 1 came as a surprise to some because Mara, a Ward 1 resident, won election last year to the Ward 1 seat on the city’s Board of Education.
Bonds won by wide margins in the majority black Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8.
Silverman received the most votes among members of the Gertrude Stein Club at an endorsement meeting in March. But she fell five points short of the 60 percent majority vote required for a Stein Club endorsement. Bonds came in second place in the endorsement vote.
Individual Stein Club members appeared to be evenly divided in their backing between Silverman and Bonds.
LGBT activists familiar with city voting trends caution that the so-called “LGBT” precincts may not be representative of all LGBT voters because most of them are in majority white sections of the city. Gay Democratic activist Phil Pannell, a longtime resident of Ward 8, has said black LGBT residents tend to be dispersed in many different precincts and tend not to be concentrated in a few specific precincts such as those in Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and Adams Morgan.
Following is the breakdown of the vote between the leading three candidates in voter precincts identified as having high concentrations of LGBT residents. Percentages are rounded:
- Precinct 14 (Dupont Circle): Silverman, 44 percent; Mara, 37 percent; Bonds, 6 percent
- Precinct 15 (Dupont Circle): Silverman, 43 percent; Mara, 39 percent; Bonds, 11 percent
- Precinct 16 (Logan Circle): Silverman, 46 percent; Mara, 32 percent; Bonds, 11 percent
- Precinct 17 (Logan Circle): Silverman, 36 percent; Mara, 34 percent; Bonds, 15 percent
- Precinct 18 (Shaw): Silverman, 40 percent; Mara, 18 percent; Bonds 24 percent
- Precinct 22 (14th & U Street, N.W. corridor): Silverman, 45 percent; Mara 31 percent; Bonds, 13 percent
- Precinct 23 (U Street & Columbia Heights): Silverman, 48 percent; Mara, 21 percent; Bonds, 17 percent
- Precinct 24 (Adams Morgan): Silverman 51 percent; Mara 20 percent; Bonds, 13 percent
- Precinct 25 (Adams Morgan): Silverman, 41 percent; Mara, 34 percent; Bonds, 8 percent
- Precinct 36 (Columbia Heights): Silverman, 45 percent; Mara, 36 percent; Bonds 20 percent
- Precinct 89 (Capitol Hill): Silverman 50 percent; Mara, 36 percent; Bonds, 4 percent
- Precinct 90 (Capitol Hill): Silverman, 47 percent; Mara, 36 percent; Bonds, 6 percent
- Precinct 112 (Anacostia): Silverman, 5 percent; Mara, 4 percent; Bonds, 78 percent
- Precinct 127 (Southwest Waterfront): Silverman, 29 percent; Mara 20 percent; Bonds, 39 percent