April 30, 2014 | by Isaiah Webster III
Dems should value party loyalty in mayor’s race
Muriel Bowser, mayor, D.C. Council, Democratic Party, primary, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

To answer Lane Hudson’s question: Yes, Democrats should place a high premium on party loyalty in this fall’s mayor’s race.

In his April 23 op-ed, Hudson delivered a litany of reasons why former Republican David Catania should get the votes of Democrats over Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser. According to Hudson, Council member Catania has the superior list of achievements in general, and is more qualified for the job of mayor. Taking his case right to the gutter, Hudson labeled Bowser “an unqualified Democrat,” who doesn’t deserve our vote just because of a party label.

We get it! You like David Catania, and you want him to be mayor. That’s fine. Why not just leave it at that? Muriel Bowser is an equally fine choice; she’s a solid Democrat and has a solid record on LGBT issues. More importantly, she’s done nothing to disqualify herself as the nominee of Democrats in the District. And quite frankly, it’s absurd to claim that Council member Bowser is “unqualified” given her own time on the Council and her other civic achievements. Would Muriel Bowser be deemed qualified enough if she were a white gay man like David Catania or Lane Hudson? I wonder.

Setting Bowser and Catania aside for a moment, the underlying premise of Hudson’s commentary is equally disturbing. He apparently sees no value in political parties. The whole purpose of a party primary is for competing factions to come to a consensus about a general election candidate.

As Democrats, we considered Mayor Gray, Muriel Bowser and others for this nomination. After hearing all the arguments, Democrats picked Bowser as their standard-bearer. From this point forward, unless she does something disqualifying, it’s completely rational to assume that the vast majority of Democrats will support Bowser in the general election. Why wouldn’t they? It’s not bullying in the least to expect a party to fall in line behind its nominee after a primary election. In fact, that’s the whole point of being a political party and having a primary election. The only difference this time is that Catania supporters would rather have him over Bowser, so they’re whining about a process that plays out exactly this way every election year.

As fabulous as David Catania may be, he’s not a member of the Democratic Party. And even gay Democrats need a more compelling reason to vote for a non-Democrat than the fact that said candidate is also gay. If Catania is so progressive, so in touch with Democratic values and so qualified to get the votes of Democrats – then he should join our party and ask for our nomination. Until that day arrives, Democrats should absolutely coalesce around Muriel Bowser, and they should continue to press all factions of the party to fall in line.

Isaiah Webster III lives in Ward 6.

20 Comments
  • “After hearing all the arguments, Democrats picked Bowser as their standard-bearer. From this point forward, unless she does something disqualifying, it’s completely rational to assume that the vast majority of Democrats will support Bowser in the general election. Why wouldn’t they?”

    Well, for starters, the majority of people registered as Democrats who voted did NOT vote for Muriel Bowser. So please don’t pretend like she won a majority.

  • “she’s done nothing to disqualify herself as the nominee of Democrats in the District”….

    Such a strong statement. Lets talk about what qualifies the candidate for mayor of DC? You as many others, have made this race for the future leader of DC about; Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation and the Letter carried next to ones name. Nothing about qualifications.

    Should we not base our election of a future leader on the Qualifications? Credentials? Ability to lead?

    At this point the Bowser camp seems to want to have us elect a candidate based on the party and not their candidates ability to lead and plans for the future. Seems shady to me….

    Signed,

    A DC Democrat who will vote for the future based on fact and not a D or R or I

  • I left a brief response to this on my FB page and will leave it at that other than to say that I am saddened that anyone would suggest that I have a racist bias in not supporting Muriel Bowser for mayor. I am shocked the Blade would allow such an unfounded accusation to be printed on its website or in its pages and I would hope that Muriel Bowser’s campaign would disavow such a statement.

  • Mr Hudson vocally and publicly supported a straight, black candidate (Mayor Gray) in the primary. Did Mr Webster question Mr Hudson’s racial and orientation preferences for mayor back then? Nope. But now he does. The Bowser campaign just clumsily threw the race AND orientation cards, and they’ve completely lost my vote as a result. As Democrats, we must do better.

    • Umm the Bowser campaign did no such thing. He’s an individual and to be honest. He’s saying a lot of things many are muttering under their breath. So stop it if you’re not supporting Bowser. You never were supporting so stop playing and support Catania!

      • Then “many” are anti-gay bigots.

        The term for this kind of “muttering” is a “whisper campaign.” If a campaign does nothing to disavow it, the campaign wants it and should be held fully accountable for it.

        It appears to me that Bowser has decided to try to stoke a black-versus-gay fight as her principal campaign strategy. Here’s hoping DC voters gag on it.

  • “Would Muriel Bowser be deemed qualified enough if she were a white gay man like David Catania or Lane Hudson?”

    This is an offensive and racist comment and should have no place in serious discussion. Instead of rebutting the other writer’s assertion that Bowser is unqualified by providing evidence of her achievements (admittedly, during her DCist interview, Bowser herself already asked what achievements have to do with being qualified to be Mayor), Webster poses a crude question, in effect accusing Hudson, who previously vocally supported black/straight candidate Vincent Gray, of supporting Catania in this race because he’s white and gay.

    To paraphrase you, Mr. Webster… We get it! You like Muriel Bowser, but please don’t shove it down our throats by voicing your uneducated and offensive thoughts out loud. It only reflects poorly on you and does nothing to bolster your candidate’s appeal or convince the electorate of her qualifications.

  • Mr. Hudson offers a provocative scenario worth exploring. If Bowser were white and Catania black, would DC’s African-American electorate be encouraged to chose party over race? Would they be harangued from the pulpits to be good Democrats? Would Marion Barry extol black Democrats, as he has white Democrats, to be “more open-minded?” I think we all know the answer. So how about we argue the merits of the candidates and cast our votes for the more exceptional of the two based on their accomplishments. Or are Bowser’s supporters afraid that’s a fight she can’t win? “Solid” isn’t exactly high praise, now is it? Besting two compromised black opponents in the Democratic primary should not be the sole qualification for sitting in the Mayor’s office.

  • Not one sentence in this column gave one reason why party affiliation matters in this election, nor why Catania's lack of a party affiliation makes a bit of difference. Didn't Bowser suggest that she would disregard party if Gray was nominated? The concern for party is a little late and a lot self-serving.

    Sadly, all I hear in this column is the outrageous and pathetic race-baiting of a guy who promoted Mayor Gray–that would Vince Gray, African American–vigorously during the primary season. I'd say the author owes Hudson a massive public apology.

    Although I don't think Catania's sexual orientation is anynmore relevant than Bowser's race or gender, her low GLAA rating was not "solid," and I regard that as HIGHLY relevant to the choice. A useful column would have set aside the race-baiting and addressed that real issue.

  • Thanks, Stephen. I am floored by the suggestion that I don't support Bowser because she isn't a white, gay man as well as the suggestion that I support Catania because he is a white, gay man. This is not the level of discourse I hope to have over the course of this campaign. We can do better.

  • It's insulting to say that the party members should be loyal. One look at this country can tell you the dangers in that. Present sane, qualified candidates to rally around–that's the answer. I'm not saying Muriel Bowser is unqualified, but it's insulting to expect a group of people to rally around a candidate because of a party affiliation.

  • Lane Hudson, I reread your column. You don't mention anything about race or gender. You applied the same metrics that lead you to support Mayor Gray. You also go to great pains to explain how much you value the Democratic party.
    There is no substance to this response. Only vague reference to Ms. Bowser's "own time on the Council and her other civic achievements."

    Are we to assume spending time on the DC Council is in and of itself a civic achievement? If so, Mr. Catania has her beat there too.

  • Putting all of that aside I can tell you first hand while Ms. Bowser may seem somewhat pleasant, don’t let it fool you. She is very standoffish when trying to get anything accomplished. She makes promises that she does not live up to. No one in her office returns e-mails or phone calls. I have been shocked at her behavior as a councilmember representing my ward. Further, being a business owner in the city, Ms. Bowser as the Chair of the Committee on Economic Development has not done anything for the city as far as business goes. In fact she has been impeding it. Having seen the way she conducts business when she is doing I have been very disappointed. Originally I was excited for her but that has quickly evaporated. I have not been able to find one accomplishment she has achieved as far as small business goes in the city?? Her and her offices behavior have made me think more about her qualifications as mayor. If the way she runs her office now is any indication of how she would act as mayor, and why would it not, the thought of her in charge as mayor seriously worries me. At least Catania has a record of getting things done. A record of many accomplishments. He does what he says he is going to down. No arguments there. I would not say I have ever really been a big fan of his. Visualizing him as mayor however does not scare me the way it does imagining Ms. Bowser in that role. Like I said , having her in that role would worry me in big way.

  • Bruce P. Majors

    Party loyalty is an important DC tradition. It's how Democrats on the Council have turned a blind eye to corruption and policy failure and graft among their peers for decades.

  • Well lets just say this. We’re claiming to base everything on merits and would like to leave ‘race’ out of the equasion. Lets not be fooled ‘race’ will always be in the equation especially here in DC with all this wonderful Gentrification *snark*. Peter Rosenstein said something in another post that caught my attention concerning Catania
    He said:
    Quote (One would think listening to him he did all the things he claims credit for by himself. He didn’t . He had a host of progressive democrats that enabled these things to happen. David has often introduced legislation to grab a headline and the final legislation looked very different from what he suggested. The legislation on surrogacy is an example. He introduced it to a headline and then hasn’t done anything to move it forward and when it does move forward prompted by other members of the council it will look nothing like what he introduced. David is much too much of a one man band to make a good Mayor. Watching him deal with those who don’t agree with him can actually be embarrassing. End quote)

    So Ummmmm who’s being fooled. He only became an Independent because of Gay Marriage being rejected by The GOP not anything else his mind thinking process is still conservative to working class and poor folks that’s a NO NO! In my book anyone claiming to be an i.e independent and Libertarian thinking person in this city is a REPUBLICAN in the closet! And I am loving hearing many of you talking about getting rid of party labels. Then I’m guessing you all voted for Mitt Romney? Or Patrick Mara? LOL!

    As an African American Gay male born and raised here I have seen DC progressed in many ways. However it’s still leaving behind a lot of people and YES Catania did do a great initiative on HIV with the East of The River initiative however that is NOT the only thing that is important to The African American Community Gay and Straight. Housing and Education matters and Catania back these high end Gentrification moves that do NOTHING for working class people here rents and home prices has skyrocketed and lets face it. I don’t see any of you folks fighting for affordable Housing as it has caused many working class folks out of DC. Where is Catania on that?

    The other is Education: As the District’s education czar, Mr. Catania ushered in a slate of reforms that was suppose to bolster student achievement and parental engagement, and close the gap between the haves and the have-nots. When he became The chairman of the council Education Committee, One thing he did was Proposed cutting funds for a top-performing charter school in Southeast and also he proposed other budget cuts, including funds utilized by Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith. “Mr. Catania showed no effort to conceal a disdain for Ms. Smith,” the editorial said. Personal character flaw, perhaps?
    Ain’t nobody got time for that! Vendetta’s? NO MA’AM. HE SEEMS TO BE THE TYPE OF PERSON THAT ‘ITS EITHER HIS WAY OR NO WAY! SORRY we don’t a person like that running DC.

    I personally have nothing against Muriel Bowser and I’m hoping to hear more from her as I was a Gray supporter and I’m sick of this bullcrap calling him a criminal. I don’t care what Jeffrey Thompson said. He will say anything to get a lesser sentence and if Attorney General Mecham has the goods on Gray THEN INDICT HIM and let us all see. I am very suspicious of his timing with his announcement about coming close to soon arresting Gray and Catania holding press conferences telling Gray to get out of the race. To me something sounds fishy.

    But time will tell! David has NOT necessarily been the man for all of DC. to me I just need to hear more before casting. I’m not throwing my hat to him because he’s gay for one he’s too conservative(to me) and the nasty hissy fits turn me off! But trust there are many LGBTQ Voters who want to see The first LGBTQ Mayor of DC made a realty. I can’t hate on you for that!

    But let ALL the voters see all of the candidates and then decide!

    • You need to get over seeing everything in terms of traits. The gay community has politically matured to the point where we don’t generally support candidates merely because they’re gay. Soon-to-be-former Councilmember Graham tried that insulting appeal, and how did that work for him? Sexual orientation is relevant in this race because bigoted ministers can use it ti attack one of the candidates, and you’re simply making yourself their agent.

      • I'm Just Sayin'

        Bigoted ministers don’t need sexual orientation as a hammer to use against Cantania. They will do what they historically have done and encourage their congregations to vote for the person who looks most like them. The DC black community has no problem promoting and espousing a voting philosophy that you describe as insulting to the LGBT community. Why? Because they know that it is absolutely relevant and effective in advancing issues important to them. This is a lesson we should embrace and try to make a little history of our own. If not now, when? Maybe 2014 is actually our time.

      • Don’t tell me I’m an agent for ANYTHING and I have nothing to do with bigoted ministers!

  • Chris Chocolatebearcub Capers

    All this back and forth. SADLY, It really doesn't matter about achievements the exit polls show every time an election in DC is held when it's Black and White running against each other each group has more of their own kind supporting them and a smaller percentage of the other supporting the opposite.

    This election will not be any different. This article is very flawed. But lets be clear you don't blame Muriel Bowser for what he is saying.If you all are going to support Catania then do so. I personally don't believe this is the community he needs to convince!

    • I'm Just Sayin'

      What does need to be eliminated from the discussion is this notion that you’re a bad Democrat if you even consider supporting Catania over Bowser. Once we get rid of this distraction, we can start talking about issues, accomplishments, competence and vision. Continuing to chastise LGBT voters with the “Democrat uber Alles” mantra raises a legitimate question as to whether Bowser will expend political capital to affirmatively represent LGBT voters. Recent gains in LGBT equality within the District are fragile things easily diminished. “Solid” is a poor substitute for “Champion.” I would like to think that neither candidate can win without LGBT voters firmly in their camp. Yet the reality is that Bowser has a clear path to victory leaving us on the roadside. Catania can’t afford to leave any voter behind.

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