Although I was disappointed that Mayor Vincent Gray did not win the Democratic nomination for mayor, last week’s results resolved a conflict that I was facing: I now do not have to chose between Mayor Gray and D.C. Council member David Catania.
Before I went to bed early Wednesday morning, I sent a letter to Catania that I was now enthusiastically supporting his election as mayor next Nov. 4 and that I would be sending my first check to his campaign manager, Ben Young.
Council member Muriel Bowser, who ran as the candidate of resentment, said that she would not support the Democratic nominee if Mayor Gray won the primary. Now that she has won the Democratic nomination, Bowser has reversed herself and says that she now expects every Democrat to support her candidacy.
As chair of the D.C. Council committee with oversight of housing, Bowser has accomplished little. Catania said on Wednesday, “In a year and a quarter of chairing the committee, she has not advanced a single substantive measure to address a single part of the problem.”
Also on Wednesday, Catania said that in her years on the Council, “all that she has done is to vote yes on about 50 pieces of legislation which I introduced.”
In addition, Bowser scored only a mediocre rating of +5.5 from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance on its candidate questionnaire.
In contrast, Colbert King wrote in his Washington Post column that, “Catania is the Council’s hardest-working member. Probably the smartest and feistiest, too.”
As an openly gay candidate, Catania has won the endorsement of the Victory Fund, which raises funds nationally for gay candidates.
In 1997, Catania first ran an for an at-large Council seat as a Republican against Democratic candidate and former Council chair Arrington Dixon. The conventional wisdom then — as now — was that Catania had no chance of winning. Back then, I believed that wisdom. But I told myself, I am going to vote for him anyway.
On that Tuesday morning, while waiting for a cab to take me to Washington National Airport for a flight to Chicago, I ran over to Jefferson Junior High School and voted for Catania. The following Thursday afternoon, I was on another flight to San Francisco when I noticed that someone had left a copy of USA Today on an empty seat. I picked up the paper to discover that Catania had won. I was astonished! Our LGBT community now had its first openly gay member of the D.C. City Council.
Paul Kuntzler is a longtime LGBT advocate and D.C. resident.