June 15, 2016 at 12:54 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Clinton, Gray win big in D.C. primary
Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray defeated incumbent Council member Yvette Alexander for the Democratic nomination for the Ward 7 Council seat. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beat rival Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in D.C.’s presidential primary on Tuesday by a margin of 77.8 percent to 20.9 percent.

With Clinton securing enough delegates to capture the Democratic nomination more than a week earlier, the District’s presidential primary – the last one in the 2016 presidential election year – appeared to draw less attention than D.C. Council races.

On that front, former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, defeated incumbent Council member Yvette Alexander for the Democratic nomination to the Ward 7 Council seat by a margin of 59.9 percent to 33.1 percent in a four-candidate race.

In the hotly contested at-large Council race, Robert White, a former aide to D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, beat incumbent Council member Vincent Orange in what most political observers consider an upset victory. White captured 39.7 percent of the vote compared to Orange’s 37.4 percent.

Gay former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner David Garber came in third place in the at-large race with 14.6 percent of the vote.

Most of the city’s well-known LGBT activists supported White, who had working relationships with many of the activists through his former job as an aide to D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton prior to his position with Racine.

In a development that surprised some activists, White aggressively courted the LGBT vote by reaching out to many prominent activists and their friends while Garber didn’t appear to do that.

In another development that raised eyebrows among the city’s political establishment, challenger Trayon White beat incumbent Council member LaRuby May by a margin of 50.9 percent to 42.5 percent in a five candidate race for the nomination to the Ward 8 seat.

Orange, Alexander and May had been endorsed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. Their defeat on Tuesday is being viewed by political observers as a rebuke to Bowser, who relied on the three as allies on the City Council.

Just one of Bowser’s endorsed candidates seeking re-election to the Council won in Tuesday’s primary – Ward 4 Council member Brandon Todd. Todd, who received 49 percent of the vote, beat challengers Leon T. Andrews Jr. (41 percent), Ron Austin (3.5 percent) and Calvin H. Gurley (3.1 percent).

In other local races on Tuesday, Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Congressional Del. Norton, and D.C. Shadow House member Franklin Garcia won their party’s nomination unopposed in the Democratic primary.

In a city in which the overwhelming majority of voters are registered Democrats, the winners of Tuesday’s Democratic primary are considered the odds-on favorites to win the general election in November for the D.C. offices.

Republican Carolina Celnik won her party’s nomination unopposed in the city’s GOP primary for the at-large Council seat. Statehood-Green Party candidate G. Lee Aikin also won her party’s primary for the at-large Council seat unopposed.

White, Celnik, and Aikin will compete in the November general election for both the at-large seat currently held by Orange and a second at-large Council seat held by David Grosso, an independent. Under the city’s election law, the highest two vote getters will be declared the winners.

The city’s election law, put in place by Congress as part of the City Charter, prohibits a Democrat from holding more than one of the two at-large seats.

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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