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This afternoon’s AARP forum on the Ward 8 special election started with ten candidates, but that didn’t last long. Minutes into the event, two second-tier candidates announced that they’re dropping out to endorse Trayon White, in what they describe as a bid to foil Muriel Bowser favorite LaRuby May.
The exit of lefty candidate Stuart Anderson and anti-violence activist Jauhar Abraham comes a week after May, already outraising her opponents, handily won a straw poll.
“I believe that the mayor’s candidate is not the candidate for us,” Anderson told the audience in his opening remarks-turned-concession speech.
The candidates’ exit in favor of White, a former State Board of Education member with little money but a vaunted ground game, wasn’t much of a surprise. Debate organizer Phil Pannell touted their upcoming endorsement in an email to reporters this morning, while the two candidates posed for pictures with White before the debate started.
“They’re doing a Sulaimon Brown,” candidate Anthony Muhammad said on his way into the forum at Covenant Baptist Church. (Unhappy with the comparison, Abraham called Muhammad a clown and offered to buy LL dinner if Muhammad gets more than 100 votes).
Anderson, a self-described “political genius,” claims that he, Abraham, and White worked with at least four other candidates to pick a single candidate to oppose May and Bowser. Anderson wouldn’t name the other candidates he tried to make deals with.
“I set about to create this alliance to neutralize the mayor’s candidate,” Anderson says.
Anderson hoped to be the “domino” that would start winnowing the field. In the end, though, Anderson could only convince Abraham to drop out with him.
“Trayon became the candidate merely because it’s what I could make happen,” Anderson says.
Anderson and Abraham aren’t the only candidates itching for a coalition aimed at stopping May. On Monday, Marion C. Barry fretted over whether White, who cuts into Barry’s votes from young men, would help put May over the top in the April 28 vote.
“A lot of people in Ward 8 feel like the the mayor and a bunch of outsiders are basically trying to force-feed us a candidate,” Barry said.
Update, 4:15 p.m.: Unhappy with Abraham’s characterization of him as a “clown,” Muhammad put out a press release criticizing Abraham, Anderson, and White. Muhammad’s release throws a whole lot of dirt on the trio, including, in an allusion that baffles LL, accusing Abraham of receiving “controversial support from a Russian operative.”
“The Ward 8 race is not a hip-hop concert, a flash-mob event, a beauty contest, more pay-to-play schemes, or a quest for mayoral control to prevent oversight of District agencies,” Muhammad writes.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery