The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, voted Monday night to endorse D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) for mayor.
The club also voted to endorse Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large) in her re-election bid, Ward 1 Council candidate Brianne Nadeau and Ward 6 Council candidate Charles Allen. Bonds, Nadeau and Allen each won the Democratic nomination for their respective Council seats in the city’s April 1 primary.
Bowser also won the Democratic primary, beating Mayor Vincent Gray and three other Council members who ran for mayor.
The club’s vote on the endorsements followed a town hall meeting in which Bowser, Nadeau and Allen spoke and answered questions from club members about their positions on both LGBT and other issues.
The meeting was held at the Human Rights Campaign building at 17th Street and Rhode Island Ave., N.W.
The endorsements also came after at least five club members who are supporting D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) for mayor sought to block an endorsement vote, citing provisions of the club’s bylaws that they said did not allow such a vote unless a special endorsement forum was held or unless a separate vote was taken to suspend the rules.
Stein Club President Angela Peoples said the club’s executive committee carefully reviewed the bylaws and determined they did not prevent the club from voting to endorse Bowser and the three Council candidates as well as shadow Senate incumbent Paul Straus, who also won the Democratic nomination for his post in the April 1 primary.
The vote on Monday night came in the form of a motion introduced by Stein Club member Jeri Hughes that called for endorsing all Democratic nominees that the club didn’t endorse for the primary.
The club didn’t make primary endorsements for mayor, the three Council seats and the shadow Senate seat because no candidate obtained the required 60 percent of the vote needed for an endorsement as specified by the club’s bylaws.
At Monday night’s meeting, the club voted 35 to 8 to approve a motion calling for the endorsements. There were two abstentions, two “no votes,” and one spoiled ballot. The vote for the endorsements passed with 73 percent of those voting, easily clearing the 60 percent rule.
“I’m glad the Democrats are going to support the Democrats,” Bowser said after the vote. “That’s what the Gertrude Stein is all about.”
Bowser was referring to the discussion last month by some club members, including the officers, that an endorsement vote for Bowser and the Council candidates wasn’t needed because it should be assumed that a Democratic club would support the Democratic nominees.
Other club members, however, speaking on condition that they not be identified, suggested that the club’s officers wanted to avoid a direct endorsement vote in the general election out of fear that Catania supporters might line up enough votes to block the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement.
Peoples said the officers never sought to avoid an endorsement vote. She said the officers waited before scheduling an endorsement vote to ensure that the process was open and club members had a chance to weigh in on the decision. Peoples said the officers also wanted to hold a town hall meeting to give members the opportunity to listen and ask questions of the candidates before voting on an endorsement.
Monday’s vote suggests that Catania supporters could only muster about 13 votes, which fell short of the 40 percent needed to block an endorsement.
The club members that spoke out against an endorsement of Bowser on Monday night were Don Haines, Paul Kuntzler, Lane Hudson, Pat Hawkins, Robin Helprin and John Klenert. All except Haines are supporting Catania. Haines said he’s undecided on whom to back for mayor.