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Last-minute lobbying on elected AG ballot question

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It's flown pretty well under the radar, but the question being put to D.C. voters of whether to elect the city's attorney general is the subject of some last-minute campaigning.

Automated phone calls have gone out from groups supporting and opposing the change to the city charter, which would require an act of Congress regardless of the voters' will passing a congressional review period before becoming law.

Stumping against an elected AG is the National Black Church Initiative, a group led by the Rev. Anthony Evans, who was also a leading voice opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage in the District. The group sent robocalls over the weekend to an unspecified number of city households.

Evans said Monday morning that his opposition to an elected AG is mostly on fiscal grounds: "If the city continues to cut the budget, go after entitlements, our congregations are going to suffer," Evans said. "For us to authorize another major expenditure, it's just irresponsible." (For the record, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has not foreseen a grave fiscal impact, though the current AG, Peter Nickles, disagrees, arguing the mayor will have to hire a new corps of lawyers to represent his own viewpoint.)

While Evans does not count himself a fan of Nickles, who wrote several key documents supporting the legalization of gay marriage, he argued that a mayor "needs to be able to count on his attorney general" and the city needs "four years of continuity," adding that he fears the "power-hungry attitude of some in this city."

Also issuing robocalls -- in addition to a sign-hanging campaign and some poll work -- is the "Yes on Amendment Four Committee." Paul Strauss, the city's elected shadow senator, is the most prominent face of the campaign, which he said is composed of "mostly lawyers and good government types."

Strauss argues for a switch to an elected top lawyer on self-determination grounds -- put simply, that District residents starved of congressional representation need all the democracy they can get. Like Evans, he played down the role that the controversial Nickles played in getting the matter onto the ballot.

"It's not about a person," he said. "It's about a process."

By Mike DeBonis  | November 1, 2010; 5:16 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010, The District  
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