DMV Daily: D.C. Council Race Frontrunner? "Undecided"

43 percent undecided in poll

By P.J. Orvetti
|  Wednesday, Feb 2, 2011  |  Updated 11:30 AM EDT
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DMV Daily: D.C. Council Race Frontrunner? "Undecided"

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LONDON - SEPTEMBER 19: A man views 'The Thinker' by French sculptor Auguste Rodin during the press launch of the Rodin exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts on September 19, 2006 in London, England. Rodin is being celebrated in a major retrospective of his work at the Academy which includes pieces never before seen outside of France. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

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The At-Large D.C. Council special election is three months away, and that means it’s meaningless poll time!

The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reports that a poll “that has been seen by several candidates” shows former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange leading the field at 32 percent, appointed incumbent Sekou Biddle 12 percent, Republican Patrick Mara 6 percent, Jacque Patterson 4 percent, and Josh Lopez 3 percent.

Why’s it meaningless? The poll was done before Mara had formally entered the race, and before Bryan Weaver declared. Orange’s support is clearly due to name recognition; many of the candidates are still unknown. It’s no wonder 43 percent of respondents were undecided.

DeBonis also has the rundown on the latest campaign finance reports from the candidates. Biddle, who is benefiting from the support of Mayor Vincent Gray, Council Chair Kwame Brown, and much of the D.C. Democratic establishment, has raised $53,123. Patterson raised “more than $20,000,” while Lopez brought in $8,640. Independent Arkan Haile has raised $7,845, “most of it from out of town,” Mara $2,650, and activist Wayne Dickson $350. As for Orange, right now he “has nothing in the bank for his at-large run.”

Weaver also launched a campaign website this week, and DCist says his is the only candidate site that “has dedicated any space to actually explaining where he stands on issues.” Biddle’s site “is surprisingly thin on anything of substance,” Patterson’s “lists issues and single-sentence blurbs,” Statehood Green Alan Page “outlines five broad principles,” and Haile “doesn’t allude to much more than education, but he does promise to flesh out his agenda over the coming week.”

Weaver did a live chat with Greater Greater Washington, where he was generally well received. And Lopez will host an official campaign kickoff on Feb. 8; it was postponed due to last week’s storm.

Elsewhere in the DMV:

* After year-end budget scrambling, the District is expected to end the fiscal year with a $3.4 million surplus, Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi said Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean the city will still avoid the massive deficit predicted for the 2011 fiscal year.

* The Washington Times reports Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander’s constituent services office “has been closed, and the telephone is temporarily out of service.” The office is “more than $5,000 in arrears to Verizon for unpaid phone bills,” according to the Times, but Alexander denies that the office has “any outstanding financial obligations.” She is planning to move the office into a rent-free space in a D.C. government building. She “acknowledged having trouble in the past making rent payments but denied that had anything to do with her terminating the lease on the condo she has occupied for at least three years,” according to the Times.

* DCist writes that Ward 3’s Mary Cheh, “always the originator of legislation restricting something,” wants to ban robocalls in D.C. Her legislation “would disallow anyone from sending out a robocall without the consent of the person they are calling or the presence of a personal or business relationship.”

* In her Washington Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras praises At-Large D.C. Councilmember David Catania’s legislation to reform the District pension system. Catania, Barras writes, says the District “has ‘played Santa Claus’ by providing lucrative collective bargaining agreements without considering the financial burdens for future generations.” His bill “could lift some of that weight.”

* Lino Stracuzzi, a former Statehood Green candidate for D.C. congressional delegate, has filed papers to begin a ballot initiative campaign in support of D.C. statehood.

* Greater Greater Washington’s Mark Jordan says instead of moving D.C.’s city primaries back to June, the city should hold “the election which really counts” in November.

* Readers of financial tea leaves see a sign in Sen. Jim Webb’s anemic fundraising in the last quarter of 2010. Webb, who hates fundraising, took in just $12,000 between October and December, a strong indicator that he may not be planning to seek a second term. He has just $440,000 left in the bank.

* ARLnow says Republican Patrick Murphy, who lost to Rep. Jim Moran last fall, is getting ready for a rematch. Murray “confirmed that he’s ‘leaning toward running again.’” He said, “I haven’t ruled anything out for 2012. I’m committed to this area, I’m committed to the political process, and I’m committed to the Republican Party.” He will not, however, be a candidate for state Senate this year.

* The Post reports a Virginia legislature subcommittee “voted Tuesday evening to effectively kill a highly controversial proposal to retain the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy for gay service members in the Virginia National Guard.”

* “In a sign of growing tension over a proposed ethics bill” from Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, the Post reports, the County Council has “blocked another Baker request -- extensions on the temporary appointments of several of his top officials.” And in an editorial, the Post criticizes Baker’s expensive inaugural festivities, noting that most of the $525,000 cost “was paid by corporate and private sponsors,” undercutting Baker’s message of reform.

* The Gazette reports Maryland state Sen. Allan Kittleman is having second thoughts about submitting legislation to legalize civil unions in the state. Kittleman’s “public support for civil unions led to his resignation as Senate minority leader last month.” Kittleman said most legislators seem to prefer full same-sex marriage or nothing, and he will not submit his compromise bill if it does not have significant support. The Baltimore Sun says a caucus count found that “a majority of Maryland Senate Republicans -- but not all -- oppose legislation to recognize gay marriage.”

* Rockville Central says Rockville Councilmember Piotr Gajewski is exploring a run for mayor.

* The Nationals will be auditioning Racing Presidents for the upcoming season over, of course, Presidents Day weekend. Would-be Abes and Georges must be at least 5’7, able to run from center field to home plate in 40 seconds, able to withstand a 45-pound costume for several hours, and available for at least 35 home games. And someone must be willing to be Teddy.

Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC
 

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