April 2, 2014 at 7:49 am EST | by Peter Rosenstein
April Fools’ Day and the Dem primary
Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen, Jr. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The April Fools’ Day primary, the result of the Council’s intransigence and refusing to move it to a later date, is now history. Muriel Bowser garnered the votes and defeated Mayor Vince Gray with all the other candidates far behind. Bowser lost Wards five, seven and eight and a careful analysis of the votes will be done over the next few weeks. Surely, votes will be scrutinized by Ward, age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, among other traits.

What is clear is that the biggest player in the primary was not the candidates but the U.S. Attorney who did everything in his power to influence the election against the mayor. He had help from the Washington Post but before he indicted Jeffrey Thompson and made what many consider inappropriate statements, the Post wasn’t swaying that many voters.

So while Gray lost his reelection bid, we now wait to see what the U.S. Attorney does. With Bowser as the Democratic nominee, he will have much less ability to influence the general election.

We know the attack campaign run by Tommy Wells failed to ignite voters’ interest in him and the $1.3 million that Jack Evans spent swung even fewer voters. I hope the minor candidates like Vincent Orange, Andy Shallal and Rita Jo Lewis enjoyed all the debates and attention, because they were clearly out of the race early on.

The race to be the next mayor now heads toward the general election and what could have been a long and very nasty seven months will be less so with Bowser as the Democratic candidate. I assume that Republican turned independent David Catania will still try to upend generally accepted dogma that in D.C. it is almost impossible to beat a Democrat. If the most recent polls are correct, then Catania received bad news and worse news this week. The bad news was that after the relentless attacks on the mayor led by the U.S. Attorney, Catania couldn’t make up much ground from an original poll that showed him trailing Gray. The worse news is that he will likely get swamped by Bowser.

I would still suggest that voters fasten their seatbelts as we could still be in for a bumpy ride during the next seven months. It could be a nasty campaign as Catania can be a nasty guy. Some have referred to him as “David Chris Christie Catania,” D.C.’s own bully. If you watch old Council hearings and see Catania’s interactions with city officials and citizens it has to be considered a very appropriate appellation.

Yet that won’t be the major issue in the campaign. There will a number of overriding issues. One that will continue even with Gray out of the race will be the mayor’s 2010 campaign. Only Ron Machen knows how that will end. Then there will be a need for Bowser to prove that she is up to the job and that will require her to put some meat and substance on the vision she has put forth. But I predict two other issues will receive a lot of attention. First, sorting out which of the Democratic Party’s principles Catania doesn’t support and why he doesn’t just become a Democrat. And second is the question of just how much he was paid — and for what — by law firms and others during all the years he served in his part-time Council member job. Most would agree it clearly wasn’t for his charm.

There is general consensus that the District is doing well and the majority of people feel we are moving forward and going in the right direction. The Washington Post, when endorsing Bowser agreed that crime is down, student test scores are up, finances are the best they have ever been and economic development is booming in all eight wards. Services are being delivered on time and well in nearly all areas. One issue all will agree on is that we must deal with fire and EMS issues. I would suggest we relook at a promise made by Adrian Fenty in his first campaign, broken when he became mayor, to separate fire/EMS into two agencies as done in Maryland.

My prediction is that the winners of the April Fools’ Day Democratic Party primary for all positions, including mayor, will be elected on Nov. 4 and sworn in on Jan. 1, 2015.

  • Making that knee-jerk pivot to Bowser, eh Peter?

    Wow! You’re even paraphrasing WaPo. I predict soon, you’ll be solemnly quoting WaPo.
    What a difference a day makes, huh?

  • Brian, Hope you’re happy because something tells me there will be no indictment of Vincent Gray and The US Attorney, WaPo and Catania have done their damage. Also, I don’t see David even staying in this race he stands NO CHANCE against Muriel Bowser. You wait and see what happens if there are no charges brought against Gray. It will be HELLFIRE to pay! I’m sitting waiting to eat much popcorn from this!

  • Brian if you read correctly you see I take a punch at the Washington Post. My pivot to Bowser is far from knee-jerk. It is made on the basis of what I know about both the candidates in the election having watched them and having had interactions with both over many years. I say Bowser needs to put some meat on the bones of her vision and yes I am prepared to help if she asks. But as a life-long Democrat who has fought for my party’s principles that will always be a consideration in who I choose to support- so if you consider that a knee-jerk response so be it. Each of us has to make that decision on our own. I hope that many more voters will look at the candidates and decide it is important enough to come out and vote.

  • “I hope that many more voters will look at the candidates and decide it is important enough to come out and vote.” -Peter
    See, Peter. Our Democratic family can always find common ground on Jefferson’s and Jackson’s basics. We shall see about the rest.
    Still, the Democratic Party voters of DC are the heroes of this election. More than TWO THIRDS of them rejected the ethically-challenged Vincent Gray as a leader of our party and of our city. Gray should do the honorable thing and resign. Tens of thousands of other FORMER Gray supporters likely stayed home in discouragement and/or disgust.

    While I’m not entirely sanguine about Phil Mendelson and his neglect of LGBT’s and others’ public safety, at least his elections have not been tainted. Phil Mendelson would make a fine interim mayor to see us through until next January.

    Three other people are heroes of this primary election, as well…

    (1) President Obama who selected the most DC-familiar attorney general USDOJ has probably ever had,
    (2) Attorney General Eric Holder. General Holder isn’t just familiar with DC, he’s INTIMATELY familiar with DC, having served as a DC Superior Court Judge and USA-DC himself. Holder is also the greatest LGBT-champion to serve as U.S. Attorney General… EVER. Holder is a serious thinker, too, and he obviously took great care in selecting,
    (3) Ronald Machen as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

    Thank YOU, Mr. Machen, for trying to keep one of DC voters’ most precious (and relatively recent) rights, as well as DC’s free election process, away from the shadowy corruption of Jeffrey Thompson.

  • Blame the US Attorney. Blame the DC Primary system. Blame the late March snows. But for Heaven’s sake, don’t blame Mayor Grey for his unethical regime and for breaking the law.

  • Mr. Rosenstein’s quick embrace of Bowser, someone he describes as needing to “put some meat and substance on the vision she has put forth” would seem to be a case of premature electioneering.

  • And my prediction is that Peter Rosenstein will continue to be a laughing stock and the source of Vincent Gray apologia in other publications (as he endorsed Marion Barry's endorsement of Gray back in March). Rosenstein is relevant only to those who pay him to shill. Anyone else younger than 60 should treat him as the irrelevant old-timer he is.

  • Mark, don't hold back. Tell how you really feel? :-)

    • Edison: Follow up Reply is pending. As recently as 12 days ago, Peter was disputing the Northwest Current’s decision to un-endorse Vincent Grey, and ENDORSE Bowser. My follow up includes hyper-links to the record. Peter is one of those old-timers who think they can cover up their path, in the day of the InterTubes….. It would be amusing if it weren’t serious!

      I can guarantee you that if someone from Bowser’s campaign is desperate enough to pay him, Peter will adjust his tune instantly. Kinda like Elton John re-writing “Candle in the Wind” for any purpose at hand…. He is the worst kind of political hack. For the life of me, I do not understand why any local publication allows him to print his shill.

  • who knew the US Attorney had so much power? Had Gray run an ethical and Up&UP campaign and not resorted to smear and possible illegal tactics against Fenty, he might have won the April 2014 primary. I didn't support Gray not because of the US Attorney, but because I'm sick of DC corruption.

  • Whatever, Just know this David Catania WILL NOT become the Mayor of Washington DC not this time anyway! And as far as corruption folks will believe what they want. The US Attorney made sure he smeared Gray with his tactics. Everyone is now waiting for the indictment against Gray. And I’m willing to bet there will be none. Just watch and see what happens! Say what you want about Vncent Gray he left this city with a surplus and while embracing Gentrification he also was THE ONLY ONE to look after the underserved and working class minorities which is still the majority of residents here in DC something Fenty did not! And for that matter neither did Catania.

  • “[Gray] also was THE ONLY ONE to look after the underserved and working class minorities which is still the majority of residents here in DC something Fenty did not! And for that matter neither did Catania.” – Chris
    Re. Catania, Chris, I respectfully differ. Take a few minutes to watch his video.

    Just GOOGLE:
    “man of his word catania”

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