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Some candidates leave their oppo research dumps to campaign surrogates and media leaks. But not Lorie Masters! The attorney general hopeful took to the steps of the Wilson Building this morning to personally bash two of her opponents as unqualified for the District government’s top law job.
“Unfortunately, some of my fellow candidates simply don’t fit the bill when it comes to the experience and background our city needs,” Masters said.
First up on Masters’ chopping block: Paul Zukerberg. Masters gave Zukerberg credit for filing the lawsuit that kept the attorney general election in 2014, an issue she’s scrapped with him over before. But she said Zukerberg’s background as a sole practitioner, a “lone wolf” in Masters’ words, made him a weak candidate for the job.
“Do we really want someone who’s never even managed another lawyer, let alone a law firm office or law firm committee, to run one of the biggest law firms in the District of Columbia?” Masters said.
But Masters saved most of her criticism for Karl Racine, the white-shoe defense attorney whose Post endorsement and first position on the ballot have potentially made him a frontrunner. In Masters’ telling, Racine’s position on Vince Gray‘s transition team means that he was “handpicked” by the political establishment to be attorney general.
“So, Mayor Gray selected Mr. Racine to get and claim this race?” Masters said. “Well, that’s cozy.”
Masters also blasted Racine for his firm’s overbilling of both the District and the federal government while he was managing partner.
“I submit that a vote for Mr. Racine is a vote for more of the same,” Masters said.
The buzz around Masters’ press conference—-a press release promised to “reveal new information about the other candidates”—-drew rival Edward “Smitty” Smith to the event, along with Racine campaign consultant Sean Rankin. Naturally, both campaigns filmed Masters.
After the press conference, Rankin disputed the significance of the overbilling.
“I think it’s a shot from the cheap seats,” Rankin said.
Smitty, on the other hand, could have slept in. Offered the chance to criticize Smitty or candidate Lateefah Williams, Masters demurred. In fact, Smitty seemed delighted that Masters has joined him in attacking Racine. Smitty described himself as “very happy” about the press conference.
Smitty campaign manager John Rodriguez went a step further, accusing Racine of angling for the support of voters who go to the polls to back David Catania‘s mayoral ambitions.
“He’s basically a Republican,” Rodriguez said of Racine.
In a statement provided by his campaign, Zukerberg didn’t shy away from Masters’ claim that he’s a “lone wolf.”
“If being a ‘Lone Wolf’ is how my opponents view me then that’s a compliment,” Zukerberg says in his statement. “I’m the only one in this race who has gone toe-to-toe with our elected officials, and gotten results for ordinary, everyday people.”
Photo by Will Sommer