In the District, Democrats showed their influence on the nation’s capitol for the Oct. 9 presidential debate between Democratic Party candidate Hillary R. Clinton and Republican contender Donald Trump. The Ward 7 Democrats were among the residents who watched the debate at one of the District of Columbia’s political clubs and bars and restaurants that hosted parties.
However, while the debate was an important activity, there was also chatter among party members about Ward 7 and its political leaders. Ward 7 D.C. State Board of Education member Karen Williams stopped by to join the party of 35 at the Sala Thai restaurant.
D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander questions how Trump will replace Obamacare if elected. (AFRO File Photo)
“I am here to watch the debate with my friends,” Williams told the AFRO as she handed out campaign literature urging Ward 7 voters to re-elect her.
There were other debate parties throughout the city, with the DC for Hillary campaign holding events in Wards 1, 2, and 3 in addition to the one in Ward 7. Nellie’s, a sports bar on U Street N.W., and the landmark African American Civil War Memorial Museum held debate parties. Each of the Busboys & Poets restaurants in the area also held screenings. The Black Cat, a trendy bar that caters to young millennials, held a pre-debate discussion on the book, The Donald: How Trump Turned Presidential Politics Into Pro Wrestling that was co-authored by Chris Kelly and Brandon Wetherbee.
The Regal Cinemas also opened up its theaters to those interested in the debate, with customers getting a free bag of popcorn.
The D.C. Board of Elections reports that Democrats constitute nearly 75 percent of the voters therefore there is a small Republican presence in the city. There were no highly-publicized Trump parties in the District though the billionaire owns a recently opened luxury hotel on Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. There was no indication that a debate party was held at the hotel.
Ed Potillo, chairman of the Ward 7 Democrats, said his event had a distinct purpose. “It is important that we as Democrats in the ward come together as a community,” Potillo told the AFRO. “We can watch this debate in a collective way and see what the candidates have to offer.”
D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) stopped by before the debate started and sat with Williams and Potillo. Potillo ran against Alexander earlier this year but withdrew from the race for health reasons.
Alexander was defeated for re-election in the June 14 Democratic Party primary by former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. Potillo told the AFRO that Gray, like all Ward 7 Democrats, was invited to attend the party but he didn’t show up.
Marla Dean, who is running against Williams, sat in another section of the restaurant and engaged voters.
Party-goers watched the debate quietly reacting when it was noticed that Clinton and Trump didn’t shake hands at the beginning of the debate. “I wouldn’t shake his hand either,” Barbara Morgan, a longtime Democratic leader in Ward 7, said loudly.
There were groans and head-shaking when Trump criticized Obamacare with Alexander shouting, “What are you going to replace it with?” There was a collective groan when Trump cited the infidelities of former President Bill Clinton and there were claps when Clinton quoted first lady Michelle Obama saying, “When they go low, we go high.”
There was also groaning when Trump mentioned “Washington, D.C.” in reciting troubled cities such as Baltimore and Chicago.
T.N. Tate, a resident of the Marshall Heights section of Ward 7, said she didn’t like the insults. “I think they should stick more to the issues,” Tate told the AFRO. “I hope Hillary doesn’t get caught up in his trap. We need them to tell us what are your plans for us?”
Morgan said that she enjoyed the party and thought Clinton won. “I live by myself and I didn’t want to watch this debate alone,” she said. “I wanted to see how we reacted to what the candidates said, particularly Mrs. Clinton. We need to put her in the White House to continue the Obama legacy.”