May 7, 2014 | by Lane Hudson
Reject divisive rhetoric in mayor’s race
rhetoric, voting, District of Columbia, independent voters, gay news, Washington Blade

Turnout in the Democratic primary was a record low since home rule came to the District of Columbia.

Two weeks ago, I wrote here in the pages of the Washington Blade the reasons that I support independent candidate for mayor, David Catania. The title of the column questioned whether it was more important to have loyalty to a political party or to continue the progress we are seeing in our city.

I felt like it was an important question to answer given the unique nature of the primary we just endured and the choices before us in the general election. After a careful examination of the records of the two candidates, I feel that David Catania offers far more substance and a solid record of accomplishment compared to Muriel Bowser.

A supporter of Bowser’s wrote a response to that column and his main premise is that Democrats should support the Democratic nominee unless she has done something to disqualify herself. I suppose some will ascribe to that train of thought, though such an approach would deprive voters of a campaign that addresses the issues most important to our city. Perhaps that is the strategy of the Bowser campaign, but I hope not.

Turnout in the Democratic primary was a record low since home rule came to the District of Columbia. Bowser’s plurality in that primary represents a small fraction of eligible voters in D.C. and fewer actual votes than any other nominee in at least 20 years, even as our population has grown.

The primary campaign was also woefully short on addressing issues because of the juggernaut of U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen’s investigation of the 2010 campaign. His inability to bring finality to his investigation before the primary, along with reckless accusations made through the media, significantly influenced the outcome of the primary. Simply put, the general election is much needed in order to have an election in which voters can make a choice between candidates without the cloud that hung over the primary and surely was a contributing factor to the record low turnout.

Now that our choices have narrowed to David Catania and Muriel Bowser, there is no longer a reason to divert attention from the issues. So far, however, I have yet to hear any rational arguments from the Bowser campaign or its supporters on why she is more qualified and has a more compelling vision for the future of our city. To suggest that Bowser deserves to win the general election because she has done nothing to disqualify herself as the Democratic nominee is an incredibly low bar.

Most disappointing in the column last week was a not-so-veiled charge that I employed bias based on race and sexual orientation in my decision not to support Bowser, “Would Muriel Bowser be deemed qualified enough if she were a white gay man like David Catania or Lane Hudson? I wonder” and “gay Democrats need a more compelling reason to vote for a non-Democrat than the fact that said candidate is also gay.”

Given that I supported a straight black man in the primary, Mayor Vince Gray, it is a preposterous suggestion. Also, in my column I did not even mention that Catania is gay. Suggesting that his sexuality is why I, or other gay Democrats, support him ignores the rationale I laid out and insinuates that gay voters are too shallow or dumb to consider the complex issues of a campaign and arrive at an informed opinion.

For all those who have been ashamed of the history of local politics in D.C. for so many reasons and have longed to have a campaign that we can be proud of, this is our chance. But it is up to us as the voting public to demand better. It should also be made clear by Muriel Bowser’s campaign that such negative and divisive rhetoric has no place in public discourse.

Failure to do so would risk advancing harmful divisions in our community. D.C. can do better and committing to avoiding this type of rhetoric is very much needed to set the proper tone for the coming campaign. It would also show that Muriel Bowser has the wherewithal to show leadership on this issue and is committed to an inclusive campaign.

5 Comments
  • Chris The DC Bear

    And here we go…….Lane support whom you may. You keep saying David has a plan for all of DC personally I still haven’t seen that yet. But that’s important right now. Why are you even attempting to connect Muriel Bowser to what that individual wrote? She has nothing to do with his comments and she doesn’t need to appease you by chastising someone she probably doesn’t even know.

    Those are his opinions besides HIV prevention what has Catania seriously done for the working class African American voter to improve their lives? Do you really think Catania would have not gotten re elected as many times if weren’t for in part with the African American vote?

    Then you said this ” It should also be made clear by Muriel Bowser’s campaign that such negative and divisive rhetoric has no place in public discourse. Failure to do so would risk advancing harmful divisions in our community. Again blaming her for what? And what makes you think DC doesn’t have divisions already??????? You’re joking right? You clearly see that in the LGBTQ community.

    You also said this “For all those who have been ashamed of the history of local politics in D.C. for so many reasons and have longed to have a campaign that we can be proud of, this is our chance” Then why did you ever support Gray if you weren’t proud?

    Okay I’ll digress. I’ve seen opinions you have written before and you do seem like a decent guy and your support of Catania based on your reasons are very valid. However be careful lashing out at her over what one person or anyone says. If they’re not an official of her campaign they can say whatever they please no matter how ignorant they may sound. And don’t worry as this campaign moves forward the unfortunate negative and divisive rhetoric will come from BOTH sides. I’ve already seen that here in The Blade with the Anita Bonds special election situation. So please don’t make it seem like The LGBTQ Community is this lovin’ spoon full of unity because it isn’t.

    • Only one Bowser supporter wrote that particular editorial, but the same anti-gay attack has come from enough other Bowser supporters in other venues to suggest that it has becoming something of a theme among them. Whether that reflects a deliberate choice on the part of her campaign, it is certainly beginning to look as though it does. When political candidates resort to a “whisper campaign,” they don’t put the scurrilous attacks in a press release; rather, they orchestrate attacks by others, so that folks like you can issue indignant denials that the campaign has anything to do with it. Yet the attacks remain. In that circumstance, people are entitled to presume that a campaign is behind this kind of thing unless the campaign clearly disavows it.

      • Chris The DC Bear

        And I’ll repeat my last line. AGAIN!

        And don’t worry as this campaign moves forward the unfortunate negative and divisive rhetoric will come from BOTH sides. I’ve already seen that here in The Blade with the Anita Bonds special election situation. So please don’t make it seem like The LGBTQ Community is this lovin’ spoon full of unity because it isn’t.

        If you think gays do not do this STICK AROUND buddy! It will be proven. You haven’t seen anything yet!

  • Peter Rosenstein

    The LGBT community will be very split in this election as we have already seen. We will all vote our conscience and support who we believe will make the better Mayor. Attacking each other for our point of view will only hurt us as I hope after the election those who are PRO-Catania and those who are PRO- Bowser will understand we have to work with each other on so many issues no matter who is Mayor.

    We are very fortunate in this City that no candidate with views opposing full civil and human rights for the LGBT community can no-longer be elected city-wide. We live in one of the most progressive cities in the nation.

    Why people vote for one candidate or another is not the responsibility of the candidate. I would hope that if someone very closely associated with a campaign – any campaign – were to voice opinions that were homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist or in anyway demeaning to a group of people the candidate would deal with that and speak out. In fact I am sure they would.

    But we know from history and from just reading our newspapers and even talking with friends that there are those individuals with those views in our city. We should all speak out about that, and fight it, but again it’s not the responsibility of a candidate to speak out against every individual who may vote for them for what many would consider the wrong reasons.

    It is for that reason that I wouldn’t expect David Catania to speak out against anyone who says I am voting for him just because he is Gay. I accept his blanket statement that he doesn’t expect votes for that reason. Muriel has also said that she is running to represent all the people of the city and respects and understands that it is the diversity of our city that makes us great.

    We should all listen and watch as the long campaign progresses – and we have nearly six more months- and then we will individually make up our minds and cast a ballot. It is that last thing that is so important- to cast a ballot. Voting is not only a privilege but it is a responsibility we should all take seriously.

  • “We should all listen and watch as the long campaign progresses – and we have nearly six more months- and then we will individually make up our minds and cast a ballot.” -Peter
    =====================================================================
     
    Thanks for the lecture, Peter. However, Bowser’s stealth campaign apparently wants to keep DC voters from seeing Muriel Bowser and David Catania discussing the issues face-to-face for five months. The candidates should be having joint appearances twice a month through October.
     
    Why Bowser’s contempt for this mayoral election and its voters? Kojo Nnnamdi’s Politics Hour is as fair as they come. What is Muriel Bowser so afraid of?

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