Ousted D.C. transportation chief Gabe Klein has decided not to join the crowded At-Large D.C. Council special election race.
On his blog, Klein writes, “I have done a lot of soul-searching, and have come to the conclusion that my passion is not in a role on the Council. If you don’t have the passion for it, you shouldn’t do it. It’s been a tough decision to make with all of the support, but the right one for me and the race.”
Klein may be out, but Vincent Orange is definitely in. The former Ward 5 councilmember, who lost a bid for Council chair last fall, then lost the interim appointment to the At-Large seat to Sekou Biddle, “has kept a low-profile since losing the D.C. Democratic State Committee endorsement two weeks ago,” the Washington Post reports, but “confirmed Wednesday he’s still a candidate in the April 26 special election.” Orange said that as the race gets more crowded, his chances at victory improve.
Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman interviews Biddle, who “by his own admission…was one heck of a long shot to win” the interim appointment. When he “decided to run last fall, he put his chances at about 1 percent. Biddle says it was a combination of mobilizing dedicated volunteers, hiring the right experts, and just plain hustle that helped him capture ‘the imagination and interest of a pretty diverse constituency.” But now, Biddle is in “the awkward position of defending a process that many consider flawed, unfair, and pointless. It also wins him the label of a political insider who won a council seat with only 40 votes from members of the District’s anemic Democratic Party apparatus.”
The Washington Examiner reports Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh is pressing for all 143 voting precincts to be open for the special election despite the cost. The Council has budgeted just $590,000 for the election, but opening all the precincts would cost more than $800,000.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* In an editorial, the Post says D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown’s call for the creation of an ethics committee “is a long-overdue and admirable idea. But talk of wanting to improve the ethics of the council rings a little hollow what with given the continued failure” of Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. “to be forthcoming about the questionable nonprofit he founded. Not only has his behavior been tolerated, but Mr. Brown gave Mr. Thomas a plum committee assignment.”
In more bad news for Thomas, the Washington Times reports a “strip club that a community group says was illegally relocated and is creating an appetite for prostitution in Northeast Washington is co-owned by a major Democratic Party donor and local developer who contributed to a controversial charity” run by the councilmember.
* Adrian Fenty has yet another new job. In addition to his role with a law firm and his contract as a Greater Talent Network speaker for hire, Fenty will also become a visiting professor of politics at his alma mater, Ohio’s Oberlin College. He will also serve as a career adviser in the school’s African American Studies department. Fenty said, “I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to come back to Oberlin. My experience at Oberlin greatly influenced my outlook and beliefs. I’m looking forward to working with the next generation of students who want to make a difference.”
* While “plenty of members of his old party and liberal commentators are happy to see” Sen. Joseph Lieberman retire, the Post reports “at least one Democrat is sorry to hear the Connecticut lawmaker’s decision -- Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.” Lieberman was “the Senate’s leading advocate for D.C. voting rights, and that earned him very warm words from Norton.” She said, “The people of the District of Columbia have no senator of their own, but they have had in Sen. Joe Lieberman an unfailing champion of their rights.”
* The Post spends a lot of time speculating on the possibility of a 2016 Martin O’Malley presidential campaign in its coverage of O’Malley’s second inauguration. The paper says speculation about an O’Malley campaign “has intensified in the weeks since O’Malley became chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, a position that others have parlayed into talk show appearances, speaking roles across the country and access to a network of major party donors with the ability to fuel national candidacies.” The Post also notes that Bill Clinton, as well as failed Democratic presidential candidates Bill Richardson and Tom Vilsack, were all heads of the organization.
* The Post reports Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Opportunity Virginia political action committee ended 2010 with $1.72 million in the bank, with $802,000 raised in the last three months of the year. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling raised $613,000 last year, and has about half of it left, as he gears up for a 2013 gubernatorial run. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli raised $552,000.
* The Post reports Virginia House Democrats “took to the House floor Wednesday to announce their opposition” to McDonnell’s proposal “to designate a portion of the state sales taxes to road projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads,” instead backing “a Republican legislative plan to tax out-of-state corporations that sell services in Virginia as a way to raise as much as $200 million for the state’s traffic-clogged roads.”
Still, the Examiner says McDonnell “continues to accumulate support from transportation and business groups around the state for his $4 billion transportation funding plan,” with AAA Mid-Atlantic and several other groups announcing their support this week.
* The Associated Press reports McDonnell “has ordered an immediate end to a ban on firearms carried openly in Virginia state parks,” and “also gave initial approval to another administrative change allowing firearms to be carried openly in state forests.”
* The Loudoun Times reports Loudoun County Supervisor Stevens Miller, a Democrat, will not seek re-election, and will instead run for the Virginia state senate this year.
* Richard Sarles is likely to be named the permanent WMATA general manager. As DCist notes, Sarles once said he hoped his Metro legacy would be “that I came here for a relatively brief period of time, and was able to help stabilize” a troubled system. But Sarles has won praise for his stewardship of Metro after the departure of John Catoe last April, and sources tell WTOP that Sarles probably has the job.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC