Robinson switches races, says he will challenge Wells for Ward 6 seat
Kelvin Robinson, a Democrat who waged a short-lived campaign for an at-large council seat, has announced that he's dropping out of that race and will instead challenge Tommy Wells for the Ward 6 seat.
A press release from Robinson's campaign says he "made his decision after meeting with a number of community leaders and neighbors" who wanted him to "end his at-large bid to offer an alternative to Ward 6 residents."
"I understand that my focus and energies are needed more in my home Ward where the issues of juvenile crime, smart development, better schools and good paying jobs are of concern to Ward 6 residents," he said in a statement.
That Robinson would take aim at Wells comes as little surprise. The former chief of staff to Mayor Anthony A. Williams re-entered political life last year when he took a vacant advisory neighborhood commission seat; that was widely interpreted as a prelude to a council run.
What was a surprise was that Robinson opted to take on at-larger Phil Mendelson and challenger Clark Ray, hoping to take advantage of a split vote, rather than challenge Wells in his own back yard.
Wells is considered popular in the ward, especially among his Capitol Hill base. But his controversial bag tax proposal has stirred some grumbling across town. Robinson, who has called publicly for a popular vote on gay marriage, also might also see some daylight between his position and Wells' council vote to legalize same-sex unions without a plebiscite.
Robinson will have to restart his effort to collect signatures to get his name on the Sept. 14 primary ballot. But the bar has lowered: Democrats running citywide need 2,000 valid signatures on their ballot petitions, but Ward 6 Dems need fewer than 400. Petitions are due July 7.
The announcement comes on the same day that campaign finance reports are due. It's unclear whether Robinson can use donations he's already received for his ward race. The contribution limit for a ward race is $500, while at-large candidates are free to take up to $1,000 from each corporate or individual donor.
A Republican, Jim DeMartino, is also running for the Ward 6 seat.
2003 photo by Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post
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