June 11, 2014 at 4:57 pm EDT | by Mark Lee
Schwartz a gadfly to goose up grim race
Carol Schwartz, gay news, Washington Blade

Carol Schwartz (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

There is a flaw that can attach to a politician. Former D.C. Council member and four-time mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz suffers it in abundance.

Possessing an outsized personality distinguished by four decades of service to the city, the effervescent Schwartz has allowed this political ailment to cloud her judgment in launching a surprising fifth campaign for mayor. Explaining what motivated her decision, she has mistaken the superficial support of sycophants for the considered counsel of advisers.

Reactions to her announcement this week have not been kind, or supportive.

If there has been a consistent criticism of her colorful political persona, it is that everything is too often “all about her” due a center-of-gravity ego. Schwartz, 70, reignited that observation in response to a lengthy news release announcing her intention to run, this time as an independent candidate.

Schwartz switched her registration from Republican to “No Party” in December, and a local party official revealed she declined a standard-bearer invitation earlier this year. She has contemplated running since at least April, when a campaign website was registered, but asserted she made a final decision only two weeks ago. She told almost no one in advance.

Not content enjoying retirement after failing in 2008 to win re-election to an At-Large Council seat she first won in 1985 resulting from a primary loss and a failed general election write-in campaign, Schwartz begrudgingly acknowledged she would likely be referred to as a “perennial mayoral candidate.”

She’s also a delightful person, in the glad-handing way common to many elected officials. You get the sense she genuinely enjoys the game, perhaps now suddenly “jonesing” for its opiate effects. She has always been the kind of person who could, and would, light up a room in raucous laughter with a finely honed innocent bawdiness.

Popular in the gay community for her straight-talking, full-throated brashness and frequently oversized accessories, she was beloved partly for being the closest thing to a drag queen on the dais – in the most positive possible portrayal of both. Until her confounding reluctance to break from a controversial go-slow stance on same-sex marriage through most of her final term diminished support, the woman known city-wide as “Carol” had long garnered the lion’s share of the gay vote.

Given the lackadaisical nature of past campaigns and tepid public enthusiasm for this one, collecting the 3,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot is not assured. The disorganized nature of her lackluster launch appeared as if hastily concocted over a bottomless brunch during Pride festivities last weekend.

If successful, Schwartz will compete against Democratic nominee and Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser and former Republican now independent At-Large Council member David Catania, and three minor party candidates.

Because Schwartz’s prospects hover well south of nil, speculation regarding motive and potential effect quickly ensued. In the first misstep of an otherwise disciplined effort, the Catania campaign attributed the development to Bowser “panic” over his success in generating broad-based support and charged that “Bowser has convinced her confidante Carol Schwartz to enter the race in a transparent attempt to help her campaign” by diluting support for the underdog challenger. A “political trick” characterization was an unfounded overreaction.

What is more likely is that Schwartz herself hopes to prevent Catania from winning. An infamously bitter mutual-dislike-cum-feud was bred over legislation and in payback for Catania’s endorsement of the primary challenger ending her Council career.

A gadfly Schwartz campaign, however, might impact Bowser as well. Not only could her entry spark a mud-wrestling dynamic in a campaign not yet of much voter interest, the deer-in-headlights uncertain cautiousness of Bowser may not contrast well alongside seasoned debaters.

Schwartz, admirably more steadfast to commonsense approaches, fiscal restraint, tax reform, and engendering a more positive business environment, might loosen Catania from his middling strategic path-to-victory pose.

Although Schwartz’s startling decision is ill advised for preserving her legacy, voters might just benefit from it.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

  • This is so sad. I don’t think she realizes how pathetic she looks.

  • If Carol really wants back in the game and to do what is best for the city she would rethink this and run for the city council. While, with her knowledge and skill she would make the race more exciting, I see her as having no chance at Mayor. Having only decried this past week whom I would support I have to say that If Carol is doing this to spite Catania then she is doing herself and the city a disservice.

  • I have so much respect for Carol, but for the life of me cannot understand her thinking on this… I hope she will rethink this decision.

  • GOODNESS You queens will say anything! Now attacking a woman who has always been supportive to this community. What I always thought a certain part of this community just wants to see the FIRST WHITE GAY MAN ever to run The District of Columbia. Just for history purposes.

    I would’nt vote for Catania if he was the only candidate. She is just as QUALIFIED as he is! GO AHEAD AND ATTACK HER. AND Y’all will be gagging on Nov 4. Careful ladies!!

    • She stopped being supportive of this community when she refused to endorse marriage equality and continued telling us that we deserved only “separate but equal” inferiority. As with Marion Barry, her betrayal on marriage equality destroyed a legacy of support for our community.

      The idea of punishing a gay mayoral candidate because he endorsed a primary challenger who supported full equality when she refused to is utterly self-centered of her. No gay man or lesbian in this city owed her our own self-subordination merely because she thought we were inherently inferior to her.

      And let’s not forget her accusation that we were all hypocrites for thinking a right to private consensual sex was NOT the same as a “right” to blow your cigarette smoke into other people’s faces.

  • I wonder what the Bowser campaign has promised Schwartz in exchange for playing the spoiler. DC political shenanigans may be fun to watch, but in the end the citizens of the District suffer from bad government.

  • Chris Chocolatebearcub Capers

    They didn't promise her anything as they have nothing to do with this! It could be payback to Catania after all he did go after her to get rid of her from the council. And we citizens will suffer from bad government with him also as Mayor. Catania is a politician just like the rest he's no saint neither. The gays in DC just want him as the Mayor!

  • Chris Chocolatebearcub Capers

    Who cares Catania, nor Bowser ain't shit anyway! Just watch the exit polls on election night it will tell you all you need to know.

  • Clearly someone is very at something, why not run yourself.

    Your “job of speaking for Bowser” says a lot for your intentions…

    Its not like it hasn’t happened before,,, can you Fenty vs. Gray and this boys…

    I voted for Carol many times over the years and she has done much for the city and our community, but her time has come and gone, just like another Mayor we once had.

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