Conventional wisdom in D.C. politics holds that Council members don’t just retire. Few have elevated their profile after willingly ditching the Wilson Building.
Yet speculation has been rampant that Independent At-large Council member David Grosso will not seek re-election next year, six sources say. One claims that him not running a third time is “sort of an open secret amongst the insider world.”
But Grosso told City Paper Thursday that he is “leaning right now towards running again.”
“I’m likely to make my decision toward the end of this year,” he says. He notes that running again would renege a promise he made to only serve two terms.
“If I decide to run, I will be using public financing,” he says about the Fair Elections program. “I wrote that law.”
Grosso’s seat is one of the two at-large positions set aside for non-Democrats, and it is not on the ballot for a while, until Nov. 3, 2020. In June, he said on WAMU’s The Politics Hour that he would “make a decision in the fall” on running after talking with his family. But Grosso’s silence about his future nonetheless fueled talk among JAWB (that’s the John A. Wilson Building) watchers that he would not run for a third term.
Multiple sources noted that his office is bleeding staff, the indicator of a closing shop. His chief of staff and legislative director have left in recent months.
“It was literally all coincidental, the timing,” Grosso says about staff exits, adding: “We’re hiring up again.”
Grosso’s indecision is holding up legislation, other Council offices fret. “[His staff] couldn’t give us a hearing on the bill because they didn’t know if he was running for re-election,” one Council staffer says about legislation sitting in Grosso’s Education Committee.
Meanwhile, the vice president of the State Board of Education, Markus Batchelor, announced last week he would seek the at-large seat as an Independent. His campaign is participating in the Fair Elections program. The Ward 8 native said in a launch statement that he wants to “bring a hyper-focused, independent voice to the DC Council.”
Another candidate will soon enter the field: Eric Rogers. His long resume in D.C. government includes time as an administrator at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Rogers confirms to City Paper that he will launch in the “next few weeks” and is currently assembling a campaign team. “I have an ability to understand what the community needs are,” he says.
Rogers is currently the president of the DC Black Democratic Caucus, and he says he will soon leave the party to become an independent.
Batchelor and Rogers both say the incumbent’s plans didn’t factor into their decisions to run.