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Before campaign switch, Robinson had ballot petitions stolen

D.C. Council candidate Kelvin Robinson abruptly switched races last week, abandoning his bid for an at-large council seat in order to challenge incumbent Ward 6'er Tommy Wells in the Democratic primary.

Robinson's since explained that he wanted to focus more on close-to-home issues in his neighborhood east of Capitol Hill -- particularly crime. But one crime may have had a more direct bearing on his decision to change campaign gears.

The week prior, a scoundrel had broken into his car and made off with his ballot petitions.

In other words, he was faced with collecting new signatures from at least 2,000 registered Democrats -- and probably many more in order to forestall any challenges -- by July 9 to get on the Sept. 14 citywide ballot. To challenge Wells, Robinson faces the somewhat more manageable goal of finding 250 Democrats registered in the ward.

At the time of the theft, Robinson says, he was investigating a constituent complaint about traffic near Eastern High School in his duties as an advisory neighborhood commissioner. Besides the petitions, he says, the thief made off with his laptop and several digital drives.

Robinson said the theft was "not a major factor, but one of many things that let me know there's something happening in my ward." He says that several instances of youth violence that followed the theft, including a shooting and a melee, led him to question the leadership in Ward 6.

"In none of these incidents that occurred," he said, "not once was my council member there."

Wells, as chair of the council's human services committee, oversees the city's juvenile justice system. He's been a strong defender of reform efforts that have taken place under mayors Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty -- reforms that some have criticized as allowing dangerous youths to roam free on city streets.

Ward 6 is no stranger to petition drama: Four years ago, Wells was facing a spirited challenge from management consultant Will Cobb -- at least until Cobb forgot to turn his signatures in by deadline.

While Robinson says the theft alone didn't cause him to reassess his citywide run, he does say it made a special impression on him: "It really underscores the concern I have about these car invasions."

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 14, 2010; 1:25 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010 , The District  
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The old "my dog ate my homework" excuse.

Posted by: chinaindc | June 14, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

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