(CLARIFICATION: In the version of this story we published on Oct. 1 we reported that the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club decided to hold an endorsement vote on three Democratic D.C. Council candidates and on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden after news surfaced that the D.C. Democratic State Committee, of the which the club is officially affiliated, might consider penalizing the club for violating party rules by not supporting party-backed candidates.
We did not report that news of a possible penalty for the club came from State Committee member and longtime D.C. gay Democratic activist Phil Pannell. Pannell told the Blade he planned to introduce a resolution at the State Committee’s Oct. 1 virtual meeting calling for suspending the Stein Club’s charter as an officially affiliated State Committee organization. Pannell told us he later decided not to introduce the resolution after Stein Club President Kent Boese informed him the club decided to change course and conduct an online vote of its members over whether the candidates in question should be endorsed.
We regret that we did not include this information in our initial story. We have updated the story to include this information and we will report the results of the Stein Club’s online vote, which is taking place this week, when it becomes known.)
Two days after tentatively deciding not to hold a vote for an endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and three Democratic D.C. Council candidates, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on Wednesday reversed course and will “move forward” with an electronic endorsement vote on those candidates, according to Stein Club President Kent Boese.
The club’s members became deadlocked at its Sept. 28 virtual meeting over an initial proposal to hold a membership vote on the endorsement of all Democratic candidates on the city’s Nov. 3 election ballot, including Biden, that the club did not endorse at the time of the D.C. Democratic primary in June.
But the proposal was dropped after several members raised strong objections to endorsing Ward 2 Democratic candidate and incumbent Council member Brooke Pinto because she is being challenged by gay Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Randy Downs, who’s running as an independent and who has the support of a number of Stein Club members.
Club members said the club is overwhelmingly supportive of Biden and the holdup on his endorsement was strictly procedural.
“I have had the opportunity to communicate with each member of the Gertrude Stein Board,” Boese told the Blade in an email on Wednesday. “We understand the importance and responsibility of being both a Democratic club and an affiliate of the D.C. Democratic State Committee,” Boese said.
“Upon reviewing our bylaws, we see no reason not to move forward with an electronic vote for each of the Democrats on the November ballot that have not been previously endorsed by the Stein Club,” Boese said. He said he expected the vote to take place “in a day or two” with a quick tally of the vote count.
The club’s decision to move ahead with an endorsement vote came shortly after news surfaced that the D.C. Democratic State Committee, which serves as D.C.’s Democratic Party governing body, might consider penalizing the Stein Club for violating rules requiring affiliated Democratic clubs to support the party’s candidates.
Longtime D.C. gay Democratic activist and State Committee member Phil Pannell told the Blade the day before the State Committee was scheduled to hold its monthly virtual meeting on Oct. 1 that he planned to introduce a resolution to suspend the Stein Club’s charter as a State Committee affiliated organization with two voting members because the club failed to endorse the Democratic Council candidate and did not endorse Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“We cannot at the Democratic State Committee have any chartered organization that’s not supporting the Democratic ticket in its entirety,” Pannell said. “And if any organization wants to be an independent Democratic organization, fine. That means they just won’t be officially recognized as the party organization.”
Pannell told the Blade in a follow-up interview on Oct. 5 that upon learning from Stein Club president Kent Boese that the club would be conducting an online election to allow its members to vote on endorsements for Biden and the three Democratic Council candidates, he decided not to introduce his resolution.
“We worked it all out on the phone,” said Pannell this week referring to the club’s decision to change course. “And now they’re having that vote.”
The Blade will report on the outcome of that vote, which was taking place via email beginning Monday, Oct. 5, when the results become known.