Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Trayon White Wins Ward 8 – Update,12:45 a.m. (Daniel Barnes):

Trayon White won Ward 8’s Democratic primary, emerging victorious from his rematch against incumbent Councilmember LaRuby May. White won by a comfortable margin, defeating May by almost 700 votes and more than eight percent of the vote. 

“I’m just in awe,” White said as voting results came in and it became clear he would be declared the winner. “We defying the odds.” 

Jubilant White supporters crowded the sidewalk outside of Players Lounge in Ward 8, a favorite bar of White mentor and former Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry. Cheering and dancing, White’s supporters broke out into chants of “Tray day! All day!” 

“We’ve been feeling good for a few months now,” said Kendrick Jackson, a White campaign volunteer. “It wasn’t a question of if we would win, but by how much,” he said. 

The rematch between White and May had become the leading story of the Ward 8 primary. The two were the only competitive candidates in this year’s primary, a sharp contrast from the crowded field they faced in last year’s special election to replace the late Barry. 

May’s victory last year had been by the narrowest margins. Only 78 votes separated the two candidates, leaving White’s supporters feeling cheated. 

“It’s not that we didn’t like LaRuby, but we felt she was misplaced,” said White supporter Rev. Claudia Harrison

_______________

Vincent Orange Concedes the At-Large Race Update11:45 p.m. (Steve Cavendish):

An hour after he knew his fate, a subdued Vincent Orange stepped onto the front porch of his Michigan Park home, surrounded by roughly 50 supporters who gathered on his front lawn and spilled onto the sidewalk.

“Unfortunately things did not work out the way we wanted to. I congratulate Robert White,” said Orange of his at-large opponent. “I sent him a tweet.”

Rattling off a list of accomplishments that were heavy on his time as Ward 5’s councilmember—stopping a waste transfer station on New York Avenue, reopening McKinley High as McKinley Tech, building a number of recreation centers—Orange, 59, sounded like a man who might have run his last race.

“We have done a lot for this city. Ride around and you will see a lot of progress,” he said, before noting that “we have a lot of work left to do” in his final six months before White takes his place. He said that making the University of the District of Columbia tuition-free was his highest legislative priority.

When asked directly about his future, Orange was non-committal, saying only that he had the balance of his term to think about it. As for what his loss, and the loss of other councilmembers whom Muriel Bowser supported, would mean for the current administration, Orange said, “I’ll let the mayor speak for herself.” 

_______________

David Garber Comes in Third – Update, 11:05 p.m. (Raye Weigel):

The atmosphere was merry even as David Garber walked in and announced to a small table of friends at Shaw Tavern that he had lost his bid to replace Vincent Orange in his at-large council seat.

Besides the campaign signs hung on the walls, a passerby might have thought it was a typical night among friends at a restaurant.

John Liszewski, 32, said he supported Garber because he is an “outspoken supporter of the LGBT community and knows the challenges that D.C. schools face given his role as a teacher.” Though his candidate lost, Liszewski seemed appreciative that he was able to vote for him.

“I’d like to have a new face in at-large seat in the Council who is starting off with a clean slate,” Liszewski said.

Garber, without hesitation, said his favorite part of the campaign was talking to D.C. residents. “I felt very supported around the entire District… I know the ideas and issues that I ran on have a lot of support around the District,” he said.

_______________

Yvette Alexander Concedes Ward 7  – Update, 10:55p.m. (Andrew Giambrone):

Amid plates of pad thai and spring rolls, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander lamented her defeat in the most drama-filled local election race on Tuesday evening. She lost to ex-Mayor Vince Gray by a wide margin, according to the latest ballot results from the D.C. Board of Elections. Addressing a few dozen supporters at Sala Thai on Minnesota Avenue NE, Alexander said she would keep advocating for her constituents until her term ends.

“I’ll be short and sweet because I know it’s late,” the councilmember began. “We worked our butts off. We worked with honesty, integrity, commitment, hard work…This was the toughest campaign. But what I love about it is we really worked hard and hard work does not go in vain.”

The night gradually got worse for Alexander. As of 8:22 p.m., Gray led her 59 to 34 percent. By 8:42 p.m., the ex-mayor jumped past 60 percent to the incumbent’s 33 percent. That’s about where the shares stayed, with Gray garnering more than 6,100 votes as compared with Alexander’s more than 3,300.

“It’s really very disappointing in a presidential primary that the voter turnout was so low,” she said. “But the residents of Ward 7 have spoken, no matter how many residents have voted. And I respect that.”

Alexander congratulated Gray for his successful campaign, but made clear she would seek to hold him “accountable” to the residents of the ward. At that, her supporters clapped feverishly. She characterized the campaign as a “divisive, ugly” one, one in which Gray admittedly “kicked a little butt.”

“It’s going to be a different Council, [a] different landscape, but our fight remains the same,” said Alexander. “I think God has something else in store for me, because there’s been such a calm over me that I cannot describe it.”

This update has been edited since it was originally published. 

_______________

Gray Carries Ward 7 – Update, 10:30 p.m. (Will Sommer):

Former Mayor Vince Gray is almost certainly headed back to the D.C. Council, thanks to a crushing, nearly 30 percentage-point lead over incumbent (and former protege) Yvette Alexander.

“I’m excited that the people of Ward 7 have voted so decisively,” Gray said after he arrived at his victory party at Antioch Baptist Church.

With all 143 precincts counted, Gray has a 27 percent-point lead over Alexander, 59.9 percent to 33.1 percent.

For Gray supporters who stuck with him through his mayoral loss and the federal investigation that resulted in criminal charges against several friends, the victory represented vindication. 

“He deserves to be back in,” Gray supporter and former D.C. Chamber of Commerce head Barbara Lang said. 

Gray’s win comes as part of a sweeping night for challengers facing incumbents backed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. While no race was as decisively settled as Gray’s, Trayon White looks set to oust Bowser favorite LaRuby May in Ward 8. At-large hopeful Robert White, facing Councilmember Vincent Orange, is ahead in unofficial results despite another challenger taking some of the Orange vote. In Bowser’s own Ward 4, favorite Brandon Todd will hang on by less than expected. 

Gray will likely be another vote on a skeptical council already willing to oppose Bowser’s plans. Councilmembers David Grosso, Mary Cheh, and Chairman Phil Mendelson, all councilmembers willing to buck the mayor’s agenda, showed up at Gray’s party. 

Cheh, who represents Ward 3, says Gray’s win and the others will mean a more deliberative Council. 

“It does show that simply having the mayor’s support does not guarantee you’ll win,” Cheh said.

_______________

Robert White Pulls Off a Win in the At-Large Race – Update, 10:15p.m. (Cuneyt Dil):

Supporters at Robert White’s election party erupted into cheers moments after 10 p.m., chanting their candidate’s name after all precincts reported. 

“We showed that there is no substitute for hard work,” White said, standing on a chair to address a packed second-floor room at The Prospect on U Street NW. “This election was a mandate for real people.” 

As results earlier in the night showed White narrowly beating Orange, District pols and others trickled in to the party. Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and Ward 5’s Kenyan McDuffie were spotted, and so was former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown.

_______________

Original post:

Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s allies on the D.C. Council have their seats on the line tonight as results come in for today’s Democratic primary.

Bowser-backed candidates like Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange all face challengers for their seats.

Polls close at 8:00 p.m., with the D.C. Board of Elections planning to release results from early voting around 8:05 p.m. The first batch of results from today’s votes are expected to come in around 8:30 p.m., with new results every 30 minutes. At 5:00 p.m., DCBOE had counted some 58,000 total ballots cast so far, including 15,000 from early voting. 

The most closely watched race is in Ward 7, where former Mayor Vince Gray aims to oust Alexander, his former protege. Gray has passed Alexander in fundraising and his own campaign’s polls, while Alexander looks to remind voters of the shadow campaign investigation that cost Gray the 2014 mayoral race but ended last year without charges for Gray. 

In the at-large race, Orange is fending off Robert White and David Garber. White has garnered the few endorsements that haven’t gone to Orange, making him the leading challenger against the incumbent. But Orange has a way of pulling out wins over divided challengers—and his own poll puts him far ahead the rest. 

Ward 4’s Todd has only held his seat for a year since filling the seat Bowser left open when she became mayor, but he looks like the most secure incumbent tonight. Still, lead challenger Leon Andrews has put six figures of his own money into his own campaign work, including those ubiquitous yard signs. 

In Ward 8, May can point to a similarly short tenure against challenger Trayon White, who lost to her in last year’s special election by fewer than 100 votes. While White and May faced a dozen other candidates last year, the winnowed field this time around might suggest more votes for White.

Taking selfies with voters outside the Ballou Senior High School polling place, though, May disputed the idea that all of the votes other candidates received last year will go to White this time around. 

“You would have to think that a Natalie Williams voter is a Trayon voter,” May says, referencing two candidates she and White faced last year. “You would have to think that a Eugene Kinlow voter is a Trayon voter.” 

Besides, as Bowser’s former Ward 8 coordinator, May knows how to turn out the vote in her ward. She has the money to fund her operations, too, with a nearly $90,000 cash-on-hand advantage over White as of Friday. 

“Elections are emotional in some ways,” May says. “But they’re also very scientific.” 

More from WCP