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Posted at 1:51 PM ET, 01/31/2011

D.C. council candidates blast Democratic party leaders

By Tim Craig
Tim Craig

Several potential Democratic candidates for the D.C. Council seat currently filled by interim member Sekou Biddle are rebelling against the local Democratic Party, accusing it of unfairly trying to anoint Biddle as the leading candidate in the April 26 special election.

When Kwame Brown gave up his council seat after being elected council chairman, the D.C. Democratic State Committee decided it would take advantage of a law allowing it to decide a temporary successor until a special election could be held.

Before the committee voted to name Biddle as Brown's successor, party leaders stressed the decision was not an endorsement, meaning all Democrats were free to enter the special election.

In a terse response to party leaders, Jacque Patterson questioned the "integrity" of the state committee.

"What is this party if there is no integrity?" wrote Patterson, chair of the Ward 8 Democrats and also a candidate in the special election. "How do we build this party if we are willingly to allow this special election to be taken over by special interest individuals who aren't necessarily supporting the best candidate, but building personal political power?"

In another email sent to party officials Friday, Ward 1 activist Bryan Weaver said there is an "appearance of collusion" between the state committee and Biddle.


"Perhaps what transpired today were just the overzealous, but well-intended (yet ill-informed) actions of one the members of the DCDSC," wrote Weaver, also a candidate in the race. "Hopefully this wrong can be righted and the DCDSC can move forward with a fully sanctioned and vetted endorsement for the at-large special election."

In recent weeks, several Democratic candidates in the race have lamented that the party was trying to clear field for Biddle. Brown and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) have both endorsed Biddle. When he made his endorsement 10 days ago, Gray said he hoped the state committee would rally behind Biddle to keep GOP candidate Patrick Mara from winning.

David Meadows, executive director of the D.C. Democratic Committee, was recently spotted at a Biddle fundraiser. Meadows, who often sends announcements from the party's email list, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

But Anita Bonds, the party chairwoman, said in an interview the email announcing the Biddle event was sent as a favor to the candidate and shouldn't be viewed as an endorsement. Bonds said any Democratic candidate can request to use the party's email list.

"If we receive a request from a Democratic candidate, we usually send it out to the list and we have been doing that forever," Bonds said. "All the candidates can use it ... It's just an informational system."

Patterson, however, accused party leaders of trying to force him out of the race before the voters have their say. He said he has been fielding calls from "prominent local Democrats" urging him to drop out, although he declined to identify them.

Bonds denied asking anyone to drop out, but she said she is "surely hoping" there "won't be 17 candidates in the race."

"I've lived through a couple races at the ward level and when you have a lot of folks in the race, you end up with people getting 20 votes and 120 votes," Bonds said. " I would like to see the party come together, the Democrats in this city come together. We want to win this."


By Tim Craig  | January 31, 2011; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election, Sekou Biddle, Tim Craig, Vincent C. Gray, Vincent Orange, vincent gray  
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Comments

The Mayor, the Council, and the DC Democratic Committee should all do us favor and get on a bus that drives off of a very high cliff.

Posted by: blankspace | February 1, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It isn't as if Jacques Patterson didn't want to try for the DC Demcratic State Committee endorsement - I heard he didn't get the required signatures to be considered.

I think this complaining is all sour grapes. While I actually think we should change the law and not have an interim Council member appointed, the fact is that everyone knew from the day Kwame Brown announced that he was running for Council Chair that this could happen if he won.

They all had months to lobby people on the state committee and many of them did just that. I personally received calls asking for endorsements and if I could talk to state committee members from a number of the candidates.

Some of the candidates hoping to run are just not qualified and I think the voters will see that if they get on the ballot which requires 3,000 signatures.

There isn't one of the candidates that wouldn't have wanted the endorsement of Kwame Brown and the Mayor. Even the Republican in the race, Mara, would have never turned down either endorsement in his never ending quest to be on the Council.

The people have a chance to vote on April 26th so instead of complaining the candidates should just start campaigning.

Posted by: peterdc | February 1, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Great points peterdc!

Posted by: thelildiva4u | February 2, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@peterdc

Its a little more than sour grapes.

If everything was as true as u stated then this "appointment" should have been decided on the first vote. But it DID'NT!! All the DCDSC did was put up a WEAK candidate. As the most recent poll proves that point, 12% ?? He is WEAK! As a state party , you are to support the candidate with the best chance to WIN! This will backfire on the DCDSC and Mara will win. If this happens then the DCDSC should be disbanded or the leadership needs to be dismissed!

You just fired up Orange's base and coming off of recent race in which he got almost 50K votes, was not a wise move. Even though he lost, he has his supporters.

Asking Patterson to stop his campaign is shameful. He will be very relevant. He has an impeccable record in the community.

Weaver has hired Minyon Moore, nice move. He has a great reputation in the community and it will definitely grow.

Lopez has got energy,enthusiasm and good community service record. Also, he has what's left of the green team.

In short, this was all made possible by the DCDSC appointment. While Orange has his issues, he still was the best candidate for the appointment. Because a few council members did not like him, he still should have been the appointee. And they should have concentrated on beating him in April or the best move would have been to stay clear of this election.

The "interim" council member has no base. No name recognition. No community involvement of consequence. Only inside support and developer money. Which does not equal votes. The voters in DC are smarter than that. Old school politricks will not play here, there are real candidates in this race with great community records except for the interim member.

Thanks DCDSC, Yogi would be proud, you folks are smarter than your average bear!

Posted by: dropem95 | February 4, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

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