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At Monday’s LL Debate, the Ward 8 candidates accused Muriel Bowser of all sorts of special elections hijinks. But when it comes to taking their case against the mayor to city hall, the candidates aren’t quite as eager. After announcing they would hold a press conference this morning at the Wilson Building to lambast Bowser’s involvement in the race, the candidates have cancelled the event after two of them said they won’t be going.

On Monday, candidates Natalie Williams and Sheila Bunn accused Bowser of pressuring city contractors to not donate to them and instead give to Bowser favorite LaRuby May.

“It’s unprecedented for a mayor to overreach to the extent that she has done in this race,” Williams said.

Bunn related a story, without providing any evidence or the name of the would-be donor, about a contractor who wanted to donate to her. He couldn’t, though, because he’d allegedly received a call from Bowser threatening his contracts if he didn’t back May.

“I got a call from the mayor, and she has asked me to support her candidate or else,” the contractor said, according to Bunn.

There’s nothing nefarious about Bowser endorsing a candidate, and opposing that pick obviously won’t endear anyone to her administration. But Bunn’s description of Bowser personally calling up donors to threaten them would be something else entirely—-and frankly, amusingly clumsy on the mayor’s part. Bowser spokesman Michael Czin calls the story “a baseless accusation.”

A press release sent out last night promised that the leading candidates opposed to May would to take their complaints to the Wilson Building this morning “to save Ward 8.” According to the release, candidates Trayon WhiteMarion C. Barry, and Eugene D. Kinlow, along with Williams and Bunn, planned to team up to fight Bowser’s “the gross over-reaching influences.”

Any last-minute Wilson Building presser reminds LL of attorney general hopeful Lorie Mastersdoomed attempt to stop Karl Racine from winning last November. Maybe the Ward 8 candidates felt the same, because they cancelled their press conference this morning. Kinlow’s campaign distanced him from the event last night with a press release lambasting May, while Bunn’s team, like Kinlow’s, says they didn’t approve the release.

The lesson: You can fight city hall, just not at city hall.

Photo by Will Sommer