By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser didn’t attend the May 19 Ward 8 Democrats meeting but it appears she didn’t have to. She overwhelmingly got the organization’s endorsement in the upcoming election.
The Ward 8 Democrats held a candidate’s endorsement forum for District of Columbia mayor, delegate to the U.S. Congress, and statehood senator at the Old Congress Heights School located on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Southeast. The only mayoral candidate that showed up was Ernest Johnson and he made it clear that the mayor should have been there.
“When you are invited, you show up,” Johnson said. “I’m here. I showed up.”
A campaign spokesman told the AFRO that Bowser “wasn’t feeling good” and decided to skip the forum, yet now it is known that the mayor was in the process of adopting a baby. In January 2014, Bowser got the most votes at the Ward 8 Democrats mayoral forum straw poll that added to her momentum to defeat incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray in the Democratic Party primary on April 1 of that year.
Not only did Bowser not show up but another Democrat in the race, James Butler, did not participate in the forum because of a prior commitment.
Bowser received 108 votes out of 126 that were counted. The Ward 8 Democrats bylaws state a candidate must get 60 percent of the vote to earn its support.
“Mayor Bowser fights every day to build pathways to the middle class for residents in all eight wards,” Malik Williams, the Bowser campaign coordinator, said in a statement to the AFRO. “Now the Ward 8 Democrats have acknowledged that work and endorsed Muriel Bowser’s re-election so she can keep fighting for Ward 8 families and seniors.”
Political observers say Butler and Johnson stand little chance of defeating Bowser in the June 19 Democratic Party primary because she has millions in campaign cash and a strong campaign organization, while the two men are running with limited funds and no major endorsements.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and her party primary challenger, political newcomer Kim Ford, participated in the delegate’s candidate forum. At times it was spirited. Norton argued that she needs to be returned to the U.S. House of Representatives for the next session, which starts on Jan. 1, 2019, because there is a good chance that the Democrats will win control of that chamber. Norton has been the delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991.
Ford, who said she has a great deal of respect for Norton, said it is time for change. “If you like the representation that we have on Capitol Hill, then stay with the status quo,” she said.
Ford, a former Obama administration official, said she will work to have District students interning at federal government agencies and try to manage the student loan debt crisis fairly.
Norton won the endorsement of the Ward 8 Democrats with 94 votes to 27 for Ford. D.C. Statehood Representative Franklin Garcia (D) has no opposition and easily got the 60 percent for the Ward 8 Democrats nod.
However, there was no endorsement in the race for D.C. Statehood Senator that pits incumbent Michael Brown against political newcomer Andria Thomas. Thomas received 65 votes to Brown’s 34 but didn’t she didn’t meet the required 60 percent threshold for the club’s endorsement.