Decision 2022

DC Primary Election: Mayor, Council Races in Spotlight

Here's how to vote and information on key primary races in Washington, D.C.

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Primary election day has arrived in Washington, D.C., and voters will make their picks in a four-way race for mayor, two wide-open D.C. Council contests and more.

Current Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Members Trayon White and Robert White are the Democratic frontrunners. The majority of D.C.'s voters are registered as Democrats, and it's likely that whoever wins the Democratic ticket will win the general election in November.

See DC Primary Results Here

There are also elections for attorney general, council chair, a council at-large seat and council seats in Ward 1, Ward 3 and Ward 5.

When and Where to Vote in Washington, D.C. 2022 Primaries

In D.C., polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can register to vote at polling locations. Bring a valid proof of residence.

Ballots can be cast at one of 40 Vote Centers from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Go here for more information and to find out where to vote.

The D.C. Board of Elections mailed out 391,000 mail-in ballots to every registered voter — the first time this has been done in a mayoral race in the District.

These ballots can be completed and mailed back. They must be postmarked by June 21, 2022.

Or the ballots can be deposited in any of the 55 ballot drop boxes located around the city until 8 p.m. on June 21. Here’s a list of locations.

Mayoral Candidates in D.C.’s 2022 Primaries

The Democratic primary essentially decides the mayoral race in deeply blue D.C.

Bowser, the two-term mayor of D.C., is trying to fend off challenges from a pair of council members as the District contends with rising crime rates and concerns about homelessness.

Bowser has had a tumultuous second term that saw her repeatedly face off against Trump and walk a public tightrope between her own police department and a vocal coalition of activists led by Black Lives Matter. She is campaigning on the need for proven leadership and her history as one of the faces of Washington’s ongoing quest for statehood.

Her primary challengers are Robert White and Trayon White, who are not related to each other. Both accuse Bowser of favoring developers as spiraling costs of living drive Black families out of the city and of mishandling public safety issues amid rising rates of violent crime, such as a Sunday night shooting that left a 15-year-old boy dead and a police officer and at least two other adults wounded.

Robert White has a history of successful insurgent campaigns, having unseated an entrenched incumbent for an at-large Council seat in 2016.

Trayon White openly invokes the spirit of late D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who remains a controversial but beloved figure among many Washingtonians. White was criticized in 2018 for claiming the Rothschilds, a Jewish banking dynasty and frequent subject of antisemitic conspiracy, were controlling Washington’s weather conditions. He later said he didn’t realize his comment could be construed as antisemitic.

Attorney General Candidates in D.C.’s 2022 Primaries

Current Attorney General Karl Racine, who served as D.C.’s first elected attorney general, opted not to seek a third term. There are three candidates running to become the District’s chief law enforcement officer. A fourth person, Council Member Kenyan McDuffie, suspended his campaign after the Board of Elections deemed he did not qualify.  

Ryan Jones is a lawyer who said he plans to focus on national events that affect D.C. residents, such as police shootings.

Brian Schwalb earned the backing of The Washington Post and Racine. He is a law office partner whose priorities include keeping juveniles out of the criminal justice system, combatting wage theft, and closing equity and income gaps.

Bruce Spiva has been a lawyer in D.C. for almost 30 years and has campaigned on his record of cases involving civil rights, consumer protections and tenant protections.

D.C. Council Candidates in D.C.’s 2022 Primaries

Council Chair: Democrat Phil Mendelson has held this role since 2012 and served as an at-large member of the council for 14 years before that. He has campaigned on education, crime and affordable housing and, like Bowser, wants to increase the size of the police force. The Washington Post endorsed him.

Mendelson’s primary opponent is Erin Palmer, an attorney who serves as an ANC commissioner. Her campaign is more progressive than Mendelson’s. Mendelson calls himself a “pragmatic progressive” and won his last election in 2018 against another progressive, Ed Lazere, 63% to 37%.

One Republican is running for the seat: Nate Derenge, a supply chain analyst who has emphasized council oversight.

Council At-Large: D.C. has four at-large council members, and two are on the ballot. Only one seat is on this year’s Democratic primary ballot. The winner of the Democrat and Republican primaries will face Independent candidates in November for two seats. This is because only two of the four can be from the same party. One Republican is running: Giuseppe Niosi.

Anita Bonds is hoping for her third full term on the council.  She was first elected in a 2013 special election and then won reelection in 2014 and 2018.

The Democrats running include:

  • Nate Fleming, an attorney who served as D.C.’s shadow U.S. representative and legislative and committee director at the D.C. Council. Fleming was endorsed by The Washington Post.
  • Lisa Gore, who spent 28 years in government work, including as an investigator for HUD’s Office of the Inspector General.
  • Dexter Williams, who worked for Council Member Robert White and in government relations for Howard University before assuming his current job at RepresentUs, which aims to improve election systems around the country.

Ward 1: Incumbent Brianne Nadeau is running for her third term, though she didn’t get the Post’s endorsement as she did in years past. The paper’s endorsement went to Salah Czapary, who resigned from the Metropolitan Police Department, where he served as an officer in uniform and then in a civilian position. Sabel Harris is also running. She is an ANC commissioner whose work has included marketing for technology companies.

Ward 3: When longtime Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh announced she would not seek reelection, it opened the door to a crowded field of candidates. Nine candidates ran on the Democratic ticket. A week before the primary, three candidates dropped out, though their names still appear on the ballot. Ben Bergmann, Henry Cohen and Tricia Duncan withdrew.

Matt Frumin and Eric Goulet have raised the most money so far. 

Axios DC's Cuneyt Dil explains why the race for the D.C. Council's Ward 3 seat is drawing so much attention this primary.

Frumin is an attorney with a focus on eduction, with support for mayoral control of schools, plus increasing development in commercial corridors. When Duncan suspended her campaign, Cheh said she would support Frumin.

Goulet is a former D.C. budget director who has emphasized overcrowding in schools and the need for more police officers. The D.C. Police Union and The Washington Post endorsed him. He is considered more moderate than Frumin. 

The other Democratic candidates are: 

  • Deidre Brown, a former ANC commissioner with a focus on teacher pay and making streets more friendly for cyclists
  • Beau Finley, an ANC commissioner and former FCC attorney focusing on crime
  • Monte Monash, a former chair of the D.C. Public Library Board of Trustees with a focus on eduction 
  • Phil Thomas, a former teacher who wants to build better schools and a senior center 

The winner of the Democratic race will face the lone Republican on the primary ballot, David Krucoff. He is a commercial real estate agent who advocates for D.C.’s retrocession to Maryland to allow residents to have voting rights in the House and Senate.

Ward 5: Kenyan McDuffie has represented the ward since 2012. He opted not to seek another term so he could run for attorney general, but his candidacy was deemed ineligible.  There are seven Democrats running for this open seat. The winner will face the sole Republican on the ballot, Clarence Lee, Jr.

The Democrats running are:

  • Gordon Fletcher, an American University professor and ANC commissioner whose platform focuses on crime, traffic fatalities and police patrols.
  • Kathy Henderson, a longtime ANC commissioner who has been vocal about public safety and quality-of-life issues over the years. She is also a realtor.
  • Faith Gibson Hubbard was endorsed by McDuffie. She was director of Bowser’s Office of Community Affairs and has served in a few roles involving education for the District.  She has said she wants to focus on transparency, especially from DC Public Schools, and bus reliability.
  • Gary Johnson is a former professional basketball player, in Europe, who is a teacher and charter school administrator. He advocates year-round schooling and job training in schools.
  • Art Lloyd is a former ANC commissioner in Ward 8.
  • Vincent Orange represented this ward from 1999 to 2007 and served as an at-large council member from 2011 until he lost a reelection campaign in 2016.  He’s also a CPA, an attorney and a former leader of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Zachary Parker is president of the D.C. State Board of Education and has received a number of endorsements. 
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