The April 26 special election for an At-Large D.C. Council seat is shaping up to have one of the largest fields in memory.
In the 2007 special election to replace Adrian Fenty in Ward 4, 19 candidates ran, allowing Muriel Bowser to win with just 40 percent of the vote. There are already 15 candidates seeking ballot access signatures for this year’s citywide race -- 12 of them Democrats -- and some other big names have yet to decide.
The Washington Post reports ousted D.C. Department of Transportation chief Gabe Klein, who has a following among smart growth enthusiasts, is considering a run. Klein told the Post’s Mike DeBonis, “A lot of people that I respect have expressed that they would like me to run for the open seat. I am weighing lots of different opportunities and am not sure what my next step will be at this time.”
Klein lives in Ward 1, and the Post says Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham “said he was intrigued by suggestions that Klein could become a candidate.” But another Ward 1 resident -- who took on Graham in the Democratic primary last year -- also looks like a candidate. Progressive favorite Bryan Weaver is the beneficiary of a bona fide online draft movement which took him by surprise. He plans to decide on whether to run soon.
The Post also reports Ward 2’s MaryEva Candon, a former D.C. Democratic Party executive director, is considering a run “as a ‘fiscal conservative.’” Meanwhile, former Fenty campaign aide Joshua Lopez, who has already submitted his ballot signatures, is campaigning hard across the city, and said Thursday that he will announce “another key endorsement” soon.
But what about the Republicans? The special election is the opposition party’s best bet for a win in years -- then-Republican David Catania won his seat in a similar 1997 special vote -- but so far, no candidate has emerged. Former councilmember Carol Schwartz is a no-go, and the city’s most visible Republican prospect, Patrick Mara, has only just been sworn in as a member of the D.C. State Board of Education.
Dave Hedgepeth, who got a lot of attention in his credible run against Ward 3’s Mary Cheh last year, is thinking about it. He tells me, “I haven’t ruled out a run, but I’m still waiting to see how the field shapes up. I will decide within the next week or so.”
The Washington Times notes that two other special elections loom. There are two vacancies on the Board of Education, due to the selection of Ward 4’s Sekou Biddle as an interim Council member, and the death this week of Ward 8’s William Lockridge.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Mayor Vincent Gray’s transition team has released the full list of donors to its “One City Fund,” which was created to finance the transition and inaugural festivities. The full list of contributions, which totaled $669,860, can be found here. Gray said, “I am profoundly appreciative of the financial support from the many individuals, businesses and organizations that contributed to the One City Fund and understood the budgetary challenges the District of Columbia is facing. Many shared with me that their gracious decision to donate private monies was the right thing to do so that the city would not have to use its funds for these purposes.”
However, the Post reports, Gray “is still about $150,000 short.” The transition team “has reported spending more than $800,000 on inaugural events and the months-long transition, including the cost of temporary employees and air travel for people seeking positions in the new administration.”
* The Post reports At-Large D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown, “the chief advocate for raising taxes on the city’s wealthiest residents” on the Council, has “failed to pay the property taxes on a Chevy Chase home assessed at $1.4 million, according to public records. Brown, who earns more than $300,000 a year, owes the District $14,263 for property taxes, the records show.”
* Adrian Fenty is having a smooth transition to the private sector. In addition to his gig as a Greater Talent Network paid public speaker, Washington Business Journal now reports Fenty “has taken a job with Philadelphia-based accounting and consulting firm where he will serve as outside adviser and counsel building the company’s ‘Washington platform.’” At Heffler, Radetich & Saitta LLP, Fenty “‘will help further develop and enhance the firm’s preeminent position in class action litigation support services, as well as health care industry consulting and forensic accounting services,’ according to a press release.”
“What landed Fenty the job?” DCist asks. “The corporate-talk lauds Fenty’s ‘efficient, honest and dynamic leadership,’ and boasts about how Fenty ‘improve[d] the schools, brought the crime rate in the city down substantially, and pushed through civil rights legislation, culminating in legalizing same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia with the bill he signed in December 2009.’”
So, the Washington Examiner asks, “what will he really do? Well, the firm says, ‘he brings unique experience in dealing with all branches of the Federal government.’ Translation: Fenty knows a lot of people at the federal level.”
* D.C. shadow senator Paul Strauss -- best known, if known at all, for not being Michael D. Brown -- says the District’s “No Taxation Without Representation” license plate “no longer reminds the public of the District’s goal of becoming a state," the Examiner reports. Strauss told a D.C. Council hearing, “The license plate has lost its impact.” (That suggests the plate had some impact at some point, which is questionable.)
* Larry Pretlow, who lost an advisory neighborhood commission race last year and is considering a challenge to Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry in 2012, has launched a web series called “Pretlow on the Rise.” He also says he is working on a book and rap album, and says he will soon be a “highly publicized candidate for another public office.”
* The Post reports Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, a likely Virginia U.S. Senate candidate in 2012, “made a stop at an Alexandria Tea Party event Wednesday night to tout his plan for immigration reform in the commonwealth.” While the Republican once “focused on bringing an immigration policy similar to Arizona’s to the commonwealth,” he now is “pushing for legislation that would require all localities in Virginia adopt an immigration policy similar to that of Prince William, which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone arrested on suspicion of violating a state or local law.”
* The Post reports “nine business and transportation groups have come out in support of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan to spend $3.3 billion on state roads, much of it in borrowed funds.”
* The Baltimore Business Journal reports Gov. Martin O’Malley is “refusing to disclose any specifics about his upcoming spending plan.” He says he “will work to preserve education, public safety and other essential services for Marylanders. But that, along with everything else -- the arts, environment, transportation -- could be on the table.”
* Falls Church News-Press columnist Michael Gardner says Falls Church, with just 12,000 residents, “has too many city council members.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC