The Washington Post backing Republicans? In the District? Believe it or not, it’s true.
This morning, the Post endorses Tim Day for Council in Ward 5. That’s not too shocking, since the Post has been unimpressed with incumbent Democrat Harry Thomas Jr. But the Post also backs political newcomer Dave Hedgepeth over incumbent Mary Cheh in Ward 3, saying Cheh “has done some good work in her first term on the council,” but that she has “been heedless in pushing legislation (such as lengthening the school day) that, no matter how well intentioned, is impractical, given the city’s finances,” and that her “overly ambitious election reform” legislation led to problems which she refused to own up to. The Post also slams Cheh on education reform, saying she did not stand up for Michelle Rhee when it mattered most.
It’s a harsh blow to one of the District’s most visible Democrats, and it’s another bit of blowback against Cheh for her endorsement of Vincent Gray over Adrian Fenty. In fact, the Post says Hedgepeth’s backing of Fenty is part of why he’s a better choice than Cheh.
In other D.C. Council races, the Post backs incumbents David Catania, Jim Graham, and Tommy Wells. (CORRECTION: I initially said the Post endorsed incumbent Phil Mendelson as well. It didn't -- the paper made just one pick in the At-Large race.)
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* “Mayor” Gray held his Ward 8 town hall meeting last night at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church. The church choir was in full Gospel swing as Councilmember Marion Barry made his entrance, to cheers and applause. Interim schools chief Kaya Henderson, Councilmembers Thomas and Michael Brown, and even defeated mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown were all on hand as Barry warmed up the crowd by calling the forum “fantabulous” and saying the two wards east of the Anacostia are “finally going to get our due ... in terms of jobs and government.”
Once Gray arrived, he immediately broke into his usual act about education reform and statehood. It was received well by the thousand-plus crowd -- but they were more pleased by Gray’s boast that 22,000 construction jobs were coming to Ward 8 as the new Department of Homeland Security complex is built.
The first “question” from the audience was an anti-gay marriage rant that led to the questioner’s microphone being shut off and security personnel blocking Gray as she continued to harangue him. She was kicked out, and after that it was smooth sailing, with a relaxed Gray fielding questions on jobs and development.
* I have concluded that the “Write Fenty In” campaign is run by zombies. After all, the Fenty campaign is dead, and yet it still walks the streets of the city, and it cannot be killed. Witness Thursday’s message from the group to Gray: “We just sent an official request to your campaign to stop sending inquiries on how to get us to stop.”
Meanwhile, Washington Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe examines how Fenty’s” devotion to bikes and biking” became “an epithet during the recent mayoral campaign,” concluding that it was code “to insinuate the mayor was favoring white folks who live west of Rock Creek Park” -- even though the city “has spent most of its bike money east of the river.”
* The Post reports ex-Councilmember Vincent Orange “has been telling local Democratic leaders he has secured nearly all the votes he needs from the D.C. Democratic State Committee to win appointment to the soon-to-be vacant council at-large seat.” Not so, says rival Jacque Patterson. “I don’t buy it,” Patterson said. “I think everybody is nice on the State Committee, and they will tell you things, but I just don’t think 40 people have dedicated themselves to Vincent Orange.” The committee will select an interim successor to Kwame Brown in early January.
* From the “please let it be true” file comes news from Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman that Peaceaholics co-founder and go-go impresario Ron Moten could run for the Ward 7 Council seat in 2012. Moten, “clad in a North Face vest that had about 14 zippers, said lots of people have been asking him to make a run” against Yvette Alexander. Moten “said he’s not interested. But he sounded like he just might be open to being talked into it. And that it might not take that much talking.”
* The Post picks up the news that Gray campaign aide and possible chief of staff Reuben Charles “helped launch a local company created to assist white-collar criminals who had been sentenced to prison.” ISA White Collar Prison Consultants “describes itself as a ‘boutique practice group of premiere prison, sentencing and business consultants.’” The Post also reports that “donors to presumptive mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray’s transition fund will not be allowed to give more than $25,000 and the chairman will routinely disclose his contributors, campaign officials announced Thursday.”
* Ward 6 GOP candidate Jim DeMartino, who is going to lose, is upset that City Paper’s Suderman said he is going to lose.
* In Maryland Thursday, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Bob Ehrlich debated crime, healthcare, and minority outreach in the third encounter of their rematch campaign. During the WOLB radio debate, Ehrlich said O’Malley’s zero-tolerance policy as mayor of Baltimore created “criminal records for people who have done nothing more than walking down the street,” while O’Malley said the harsh measures were necessary in running the “most addicted, most violent, most abandoned city in America.”
Later in the day, O’Malley “tapped two of his party’s biggest stars -- Vice President Biden and former president Bill Clinton -- to help raise money and build enthusiasm among Democrats at a rally overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor,” the Post reports, while Ehrlich “capped a busy day on the campaign trail with a rally in Baltimore County, the suburban jurisdiction where blue-collar Democrats helped propel him to his 2002 victory.”
* In Virginia, the Post says state Sen. Creigh Deeds, who lost the 2009 gubernatorial race to Bob McDonnell, says his old foe’s “plan to raise money for roads by selling state-run liquor stores is ‘ludicrous.’” Speaking at the University of Virginia Wednesday night, Deeds said, “For those folks to talk about fixing roads by selling liquor stores for half a billion dollars insults the intelligence of Virginians.”
* WTOP reports WMATA is gearing up for winter, with what Metro’s Jim Hughes called “559 pieces of equipment all ready to go out for the first snowstorm.” WTOP says in addition to the “front-end loaders, dump trucks, tractors, snow blowers and snow brushes,” WMATA “also has 3,700 tons of rock salt stored in salt domes around the system.” While it’s heartening to know that Metro is preparing for a possible Snowmageddon II, Capital Weather Gang says we will probably be spared a repeat.
* Greater Greater Washington’s David Alpert writes that the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground “will likely soon begin lease negotiations” for Dupont Circle’s old trolley tunnels, and in addition to arts space, “they hope to include a restaurant and winery.”
* City Paper goes on the DCPS “virtual video tour” of Woodrow Wilson Senior High School.
* Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis accuses the Examiner of “a cheap shot.”
* Prince of Petworth wonders if there’s a “double standard” on subdivisions in Woodley Park.
* The GW Patriot Blog called a female-only hour at the GW poll a sign of “the further Islamization of America” -- before deleting the post.
* DCist reports PETA activists will be outside the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue this afternoon farting in protest. Yes, you read that right. Smell you later.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC