Muriel Bowser could potentially add two new allies to the D.C. Council after special elections today, depending on the results of a tight race in Ward 8.
Brandon Todd predicted Tuesday morning that he would “win big,” and he did. Pushed by Bowser’s support to replace her in her old Council seat and wielding the fundraising advantage that came with the endorsement, Todd received 44.42 percent of the vote running against twelve other candidates on the ballot. (See all the election results on a map here).
Renee Bowser came in second with 21.57 percent, followed by Leon T. Andrews, Jr. with 15.02 percent, and Vince Gray-endorsed Dwayne M. Toliver with 12.27 percent.
In Ward 8, though, Bowser’s candidate hasn’t won yet. With all precincts counted, Green Team candidate LaRuby May has 1,711 votes, 26.94 percent of the vote. That puts her 152 votes ahead of street organizer Trayon “WardEight” White, who received 1,559 votes and 24.55 percent of the vote.
That number could change (although probably not enough in White’s favor to put him ahead) thanks to a reported 163 outstanding absentee ballots. With May more than two percent ahead of White, the results aren’t close enough yet to trigger an automatic recount, but White tells LL that he’ll pay for a recount no matter how the absentee ballots break out.
The close results come in part from a more competitive field of second-tier candidates. Former Gray staffer Sheila Bunn came in third with 10.63 percent of the vote, while Eugene D. Kinlow received 10.2 percent. Ward Eight Democrats president Natalie Williams won 9.53 percent. Marion C. Barry, running to replace late father Marion Barry in the seat, came in sixth with 7.24 percent of the vote.
The mood of uncertainty prevailed at May’s election party at the Old Congress Heights School. Taking the mic, Bowser announced that May was “winning,” meaning that she hasn’t won yet. Bowser asked the crowd, which repeatedly yelled the May campaign motto “So Eight May Rise,” to make sure that the D.C. Board of Elections counts all of May’s votes.
May shrugged off the lack of decisive victory and seemed to welcome the delayed results.
“You know what happens when you work harder?” May said. “Sometimes, you’ve gotta do overtime.”
Outside White’s party at Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, a defiant crowd of supporters surrounded their candidate and claimed that Bowser would fix the election count. Jauhar Abraham, a former candidate who dropped out to endorse White, urged White to head to DCBOE’s headquarters tonight to monitor the votes.
“It’s so close,” Abraham said. “They work for Muriel.”
White wouldn’t say that he wishes more candidates—including Barry, who likely drew votes away from White—had dropped out to support him. But he reveled in his relative success against the Bowser-backed May campaign, which had raised nearly $270,000 as of April 20 to his roughly $17,000.
“We ran a campaign with nothing against a half-a-million dollar money machine,” said White, exaggerating May’s totals some.
Whoever wins, they won’t have long to enjoy the seat. It’s up for another election next year. Should the recount go against him, White has already decided to run again.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery