Mayor Vincent Gray seems to be getting behind interim At-Large D.C. Councilmember Sekou Biddle, who faces a wide array of challengers in an April special election. The Washington Post reports Gray attended a Biddle fundraiser last night, hosted by lobbyist David Wilmot and businessman Darryl Rose. At the event, Gray joked about Biddle winning 75 percent of the vote in the special election.
While many members of the Council endorsed Biddle for the interim appointment, Gray remained neutral. However, as Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman writes, “Gray probably has little interest in seeing Republican Pat Mara take a seat with the help of a heavily fractured Democratic vote in the April special election.” There are currently 11 Democrats in the race, while Mara is the only Republican.
The Democratic list was actually initially longer. Former mayoral candidate Leo Alexander has given up on the race, telling me, “It’s just too soon after the mayoral campaign. We'll see what happens over the next two to four years.” Kelvin Robinson, who ran for Council in Ward 5 last year, has also decided to end his campaign.
Meanwhile, DCist digs up a great photo of Republican Mara and Bryan Weaver, one of the most liberal Democratic candidates in the race, posing after competing in the Columbia Heights Day cupcake eating contest last August.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* We now know that freshman Rep. Trey Gowdy will head the House Oversight subcommittee responsible for District affairs, but what about the ranking member? Democrats have named Rep. Danny Davis, first elected in 1996, as its top member on the panel. Davis, a former Chicago city council member, briefly ran for mayor of the Windy City earlier this year before dropping out.
* DCist reports a House Republican proposal to cut federal spending by $2.5 trillion over the next decade would eliminate “$210 million in general assistance to the District of Columbia and a $150 million subsidy for WMATA.” Members of the Republican Study Committee seem to “realize that these cuts would be pretty rough for a town and a transit system that are both already struggling financially -- but that the need for spending reduction trumps.” The Washington Examiner reports Gray budget director Eric Goulet said the cuts “would be catastrophic.”
* Metro Weekly reports Gray is expected to name Jeffrey Richardson to head the D.C. Office of LGBT Affairs this morning. Richardson, a former president of the Gertrude Stein Democrat Club, told Metro Weekly last month, “Anybody would be honored to serve our city and serve our community at such a high post, to have the potential to have such major impact on policy and government that affects our community and the community broadly.”
* City Paper’s Suderman writes that while “it was no Lincoln-Douglas debate,” Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry and At-Large Councilmember David Catania “had a mildly entertaining back-and-forth yesterday over the D.C. Council’s role in relation to the executive branch.” While the hearing was about a health bill, “the real debate was whether the council ought to be telling the mayor how to organize city government. Catania says yes, the council is perfectly in its right,” but Barry “says the city no longer needs a meddling council sticking its nose in the mayor’s business.” Barry told his colleague, “This is a new day in the District of Columbia. The day is over, Mr. Catania, when you’re going to tell the mayor what to do.”
* The Examiner reports the Washington Teachers’ Union is establishing a scholarship for D.C. Public Schools students in honor of William Lockridge, the Ward 8 State Board of Education member who died last week at age 63.
* Maryland Reporter says Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees “have agreed on a three-year contract that would turn furloughs into paid days off, give employees a $750 bonus, and schedule raises and cost-of-living adjustments.”
* Maryland blogger Richard Cross says state Sen. Allan Kittleman’s decision to step down as minority leader may be the first step in his emergence as a statewide Republican candidate. The Baltimore Sun praised Kittleman’s decision in an editorial.
* The Post reports former talk show host and Baltimore native Montel Williams “will lend his support to efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Maryland. Williams has been a spokesperson for the cause since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis some years ago.
* The Post reports Gov. Bob McDonnell “is saying through a spokesman that’s he’s ‘pleased’” that a Democrat, Del. Robert Brink, introduced the bill that would privatize Virginia’s liquor stores. Brink “has expressed opposition to the liquor privatization proposal several times,” but wants legislation on the floor so the question can be debated.
The Examiner reports McDonnell “ran into trouble during his first push to privatize the state’s liquor monopoly last year when Democrats -- and some Republicans -- voiced concern about a nearly $50 million hole the plan would blow in the state’s budget.”
* ARLnow reports Virginia Del. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat, “introduced legislation this afternoon that would curtail the state attorney general’s ability to file civil actions ‘without the request or authorization of the Governor or General Assembly.’” Ebbin says the bill was prompted by AG Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new federal health care law. According to the Falls Church News-Press, Ebbin “said that Cuccinelli ‘abandoned the tradition of good and responsible government set by his predecessors, and instead used his position as a platform to unilaterally pursue political-motivated ends.’”
* DCist reports Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was called for D.C. jury duty Thursday, “and sat in that same big room all of us who have lived here long enough have.” But Kagan “isn’t just fulfilling her civic duty to the District -- she’s also apparently looking to buy a home in Logan Circle.”
* The 42 Bus blog shares some signs that “You are Very D.C.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC