February 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Norton, Bowser win Stein Club endorsement

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Kwame Brown & openly gay City Council member David Catania. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Homes Norton and Ward 4 D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser on Feb. 16 won the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club for the city’s April 3 Democratic primary.

The Stein Club, the city’s largest LGBT political organization, also endorsed Democrat Nate Bennett-Fleming for the post of U.S. shadow representative.

The city created one shadow House seat and two shadow Senate seats in the early 1980s as nonpaid positions with no voting authority for the purpose of advocating for D.C. statehood and D.C. voting rights in Congress.

The club didn’t approve an endorsement for the shadow U.S. Senate seat up for election this year after incumbent Michael D. Brown fell short by less than one percent of the required 60 percent vote of the club membership needed for an endorsement.

Stein President Lateefah Williams said Brown received just over 59 percent of the vote, with the balance of the votes going to challenger Pete Ross and for the ballot option of “no endorsement.”

Williams said Bowser, a long-time supporter of LGBT rights who voted in 2009 for the city’s same-sex marriage law, won the club endorsement with 72 percent of the vote.

Bennett-Fleming and Norton are running unopposed in the primary, with Bennett-Fleming also running unopposed in the November general election.

Bowser faces five opponents. Three of them, along with Bowser, Norton, and Bennett-Fleming, attended and spoke at a club meeting at the Metropolitan Community Church on Ridge Street, N.W., where the endorsement votes took place.

The three challengers to Muriel Bowser that attended the meeting – Renee L. Bowser, Judi Jones, and Max Skolnik – and the other two – Calvin Gurley and Baruti Jahi – submitted responses to a Stein Club questionnaire expressing support for LGBT related issues, including the city’s same-sex marriage law.

The candidates’ questionnaire responses are available for viewing on the Stein Club’s website, www.steindemocrats.org.

No Republican filed to run against Norton in the November election. Statehood-Green Party candidate Natale Lino Stracuzzi is expected to run against Norton in the November general election. Political observers consider Norton the odds on favorite to win another term in Congress.

LGBT activists, along with the Stein Club, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, and other groups consider Norton one of the strongest LGBT advocates in Congress.

Williams said the Stein Club will vote on endorsements for the Ward 7 and Ward 8 Council seats on Feb. 23 at a location to be announced. She said the club would vote on endorsements in the At-Large Council race on March 1 at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill.

Ward 7 incumbent Yvette Alexander and Ward 8 incumbent Marion Barry were the only two Council members to vote against the same-sex marriage law but have otherwise supported LGBT related issues during their tenure in office. Alexander faces seven opponents in the April 3 primary. Barry faces four opponents.

In the At-Large Council race, incumbent Vincent Orange, who captured the seat in a special election in 2011, faces three opponents. One of the opponents, Sekou Biddle, ran and lost against Orange in 2011. All four candidates running for the seat in the primary have expressed support on a wide range of LGBT related issues, including the same-sex marriage law.

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

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