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Lefty restaurant mogul Andy Shallal couldn’t win last year’s mayoral race, but can he make it to the D.C. Council dais instead? Shallal is mulling an entry into next year’s at-large race—and one person tells LL that Shallal has already made up his mind to enter the race.
Shallal’s Democratic primary campaign for mayor last year blended progressive politics with celebrity endorsements, much of it fueled by Shallal’s own fortune from the Busboys and Poets set of restaurants. Putting more than $100,000 of his money into his campaign wasn’t enough to get close to a win, though—Shallal came in fifth with 3 percent of the vote.
Ward 8 activist Jacque Patterson talked to Shallal on last weekend’s Anacostia Coordianting Council cruise, where Ward 8 bigwigs like Councilmember LaRuby May mingled with not-yet-declared at-large candidate Robert White. Patterson says Shallal worked the crowd, apparently in an effort to gauge their support for his at-large bid.
“He said, ‘Yes, I am running,'” Patterson says.
In an email, Shallal tells LL he’s “seriously considering” entering the Democratic at-large race.
Entering the race would put Shallal up against urbanist type David Garber and (probably) White, who’s politically close to attorney general Karl Racine. It would also mean a rematch against former mayor’s race foe Vincent Orange, set to run to hold onto his at-large seat.
Shallal has taken care of one of his liabilities since losing the mayor’s race. While his failure to open a much-discussed Busboys and Poets location east of the Anacostia River earned him jeers during the mayoral race, the restaurant is now set to open a branch in Anacostia as early as next year.
Shallal is tight-lipped for now, but maybe not for long. On Friday, he’ll toast his restaurant chain’s 10th anniversary at its Brookland location with a crowd stocked with VIPs, including reformed domestic bomber Bill Ayers. Hint, hint.
Something to consider until then: While Shallal’s 3 percent return in last year’s primary doesn’t exactly scream electoral potential, it’s still over 1,000 votes more than Orange received in the same race.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery