November 23, 2010 at 11:30 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Ray stays out of interim Council race

Clark Ray, the gay candidate who lost his race for an at-large D.C. Council seat in the September primary, has chosen not to enter a preliminary contest for another at-large seat that will become vacant on Jan. 1.

The 82-member D.C. Democratic State Committee is scheduled to vote Jan. 6 to appoint an interim replacement for Council member Kwame Brown (D-At-Large), who won election Nov. 2 as Council chairman.

Ray did not file as a candidate for the State Committee appointment process by the Nov. 6 deadline. He did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Some political observers say the winner of the State Committee appointment for interim Council member will have the advantage of incumbency and greater name recognition in a special citywide election expected to take place in spring of 2011. Twelve candidates filed papers to compete for the interim appointment, including former Ward 5 Council member Vincent Orange, who is considered the frontrunner.

Earlier this year Ray said he would consider running for Brown’s seat in the 2011 special election if he lost his race in September for the seat held by Council member Phil Mendelson.

Mendelson, who has a strong pro-LGBT record, won the primary with 63 percent of the vote, beating Ray in precincts with high concentrations of gay voters. D.C. Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown came in second, with 27 percent of the vote. Ray finished third with 9 percent of the vote, losing in every precinct.

Gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who served as a Ray campaign adviser, said Ray would have a decent chance of winning in the special election despite his poor showing in the September primary. Rosenstein noted that special elections are known for yielding a low voter turnout. He said Ray could win with 10,000 votes — which he received in the primary — in a multi-candidate contest.

“He could pull this off if the gay vote unifies behind him, which I think it will,” Rosenstein said.

At least two other candidates said to be considering entering the race for the special election have strong pro-gay records and could take LGBT votes away from Ray. Adam Clampitt received gay support as an at-large candidate in the 2008 Democratic primary before withdrawing from the race and backing Michael A. Brown, who won the primary and general election.

Republican Patrick Mara, an early supporter of same-sex marriage, stunned the political establishment when he defeated longtime Council member Carol Schwartz in the 2008 GOP primary. Mara lost in the general election to Michael A. Brown but came back to win a seat on the D.C. school board in Ward 1 earlier this month. Mara is said to be weighing whether to run in the special election for the at-large Council seat.

“Clark spent over $200,000, ran for two years, knocked on doors throughout the city, hung signs everywhere and got less than 10 percent of the vote,” said gay activist Bob Summersgill, who campaigned for Mendelson in the September primary.

Summersgill noted that Ray and several candidates competing for the interim appointment for the vacant at-large seat, who also ran and lost in Council races this year, “need to explain why we should give them any consideration in the special election.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Clark Ray is a narcissist. Maybe Tipper Gore and Madeline Albright will take Peter Rosenstein with them.

  • Peter Rosenstein a few months back was equally confident that Clark Ray would defeat Phil Mendelson. If wishful thinking were enough to elect someone, Peter’s Ward 2 favorite from the 2008 election, Cary Silverman, would be on the Council. Ray appears to be more realistic at this point. Ray might well make a credible run in the future, but regrouping after such a defeat takes more than a few months.

  • Re Bob Summersgill’s comment that “Ray and several candidates competing for the interim appointment for the vacant at-large seat ‘need to explain why we should give them any consideration in the special election’ ” — I certainly hope he isn’t referring to the “we” of the 5 or 6 GLAA members who sit in a room and piously and pompously continue the facade that they speak for anyone other than themselves and their in-bred political agenda. What a joke!

  • Tom, your insults against GLAA reveal considerable ignorance. First of all, I would like to know what is “pompous” about providing information about candidates on LGBT issues. We specifically emphasize that our ratings are NOT endorsements. We have NEVER claimed to speak for the community; that is not our purpose at all. We aim to serve the community. Our ratings process is quite laborious and we show our work. Before we draft our questionnaire, we put together a comprehensive policy brief which is based not on some “inbred” agenda but on consultation with a wide range of other groups. We have consistently stressed the importance of coalitions and networking and it shows in our work. Nor do we just make up a numerical rating. We explain it, we show how itt was arrived at, and we publish candidates’ complete questionnaire responses along with a news release in which we describe their known LGBT-related record that went into their rating. As it happened, the highest rated candidate in each race won. How does that show us to be irrelevant? BTW, there were nine people in the ratings meeting for the primary, and it took about five hours. It takes much less time, naturally, to hurl ill-informed and unjust insults. I note, by the way, that Bob and I gave our full names.

  • Addendum to Tom: If the popular response of the moment is all you care about, then sure, you could gather a larger crowd of people who have not gone through the candidates’ relevant responses on a range of issues, and just rate the candidates based on who gets the most applause. If, instead, your complaint is that GLAA chose the wrong issues or took the wrong positions on them, or that we were unjust to particular candidates, you have not even tried to make the case for any of that. No, just spew bile and feel superior for it. How inspiring.

  • Rosenstein’s comments are curious, since he told a number of people in Rehoboth back in October that he had nothing to do with Ray’s campaign and that he had always supported Mendelson.

  • Steven, I invite you to google “Mendelson” and “Rosenstein”. You will find article after article of Rosenstein deriding Mendelson and identified as a Ray campaign advisor, co-chair, mastermind, and other interesting titles. Read any of Rosenstein’s commentaries on the At-Large election. He rarely has anything nice to say about Phil.

    Throughout the campaign, and frankly for many years prior, Rosenstein has derided Phil Mendelson, despite the dozens of bills that Phil has moved through the Council on our behalf, not the least of which is marriage equality.

    I supported Phil again this year because I saw first hand, as a leading lobbyist on LGBT issues in D.C., Phil’s commitment and drive to acheive full equality for LGBT people. Out of an extrodinary pro-LGBT Council, I find Phil to be the best on our issues, as well as other progressive issues.

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