Biddle picks up SEUI endorsement -- and criticism from opponents
The Service Employees International Union on Wednesday endorsed D.C. Council member Sekou Biddle (D-At large) in the April 26 special election, even as some of Biddle's opponents stepped up their criticism of his attempts to have them thrown off the ballot.
SEUI, which typically endorses incumbent council members, said in a statement that it's supporting Biddle because he has "promised to safeguard our tax dollars, create good jobs and make" schools more secure.
Union leaders, who claim 45,000 members in the Washington region, made the endorsement after they interviewed Biddle and he responded to a candidate questionnaire.
The SEIU endorsement, which becomes the second union to endorse him, could help Biddle with volunteers and visibility heading into what is expected to be a low-turnout election.
But Biddle's decision to try to remove three of his opponents from the ballot has left him vulnerable to charges he's trying to strong-arm the political process.
On Monday, Biddle campaign lawyer Bandele McQueen filed challenges with the Board of Elections questioning the integrity of nominating petitions submitted by Republican Patrick Mara and and Democrats Jacque Patterson and Bryan Weaver.
Potential candidates for D.C. Council Chairman's Kwame Brown's old at-large seat earlier this month had to submit 3,000 signatures from registered voters to appear on the ballot. But candidates and voters had until Monday to challenge signatures they believed to be fraudulent or improperly gathered.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Patterson's campaign said Biddle is challenging 1,084 of his signatures. Among the names being challenged, Patterson said, are those belonging to former mayors Adrian M. Fenty and Anthony Williams and numerous other community leaders. Patterson said he gathered many of his signatures at Mayor Vincent C. Gray's inauguration.
"The list of signatures challenged includes a who's who of dedicated District residents who have served our city selflessly in positions as mayor, council members, ANCs, and community activists," said Patterson, head of the Ward 8 Democratic Committee. " While any citizen has the right to challenge nominating petitions, what does the Biddle campaign seek to gain by questioning the integrity of well-known District leaders?"
Weaver also released a statement criticizing Biddle's for challenging his signatures.
Weaver questioned why Biddle challenged the validity of signatures belonging to former Ward 3 council member Kathy Patterson as well his wife, campaign chair, campaign manager and campaign treasurer.
"If I didn't take every part of the process very seriously, this would be pretty funny," Weaver said. "In any case, we remain confident in the work of our volunteers and look forward to moving ahead with the campaign."
The board of elections announced Wednesday that it will begin hearings on the petition challenges next week.
| March 2, 2011; 12:59 PM ET
Categories: Bryan Weaver, Jacque Patterson, Sekou Biddle, Vincent Orange, at-large election 2011, vincent gray
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