Forgive LL’s lateness on this, but Monday’s mayoral debate—-one of several that doesn’t feature Muriel Bowser—-was too good not to mention. Although the debate at Arena Stage focused on the Southwest Waterfront, Bowser’s absence helped the two remaining candidates answer a question of citywide import: When are Carol Schwartz and David Catania going to work it out?

As it turned out, Schwartz didn’t bury any hatchets before the debate. Notably for the two remaining debates that Bowser plans on attending, though, Catania has figured out a way to keep that feud with Schwartz from bogging him down as much as it did in last week’s WAMU debate.

Schwartz ran down her most effective grievances with Catania’s background, from his former job with city contractor M.C. Dean to his status as an alleged baseball spoilsport. She also hit the less-than-great hits, warning the audience that Catania supporters also backed Pat Mara. For LL readers who weren’t paying attention to a local Republican primary nearly six years ago, that’d be “victorious 2008 Schwartz opponent Pat Mara,” who has practically left District politics but not Schwartz’s grudge list.

At one point, Schwartz claimed that Catania didn’t speak to her for a year after she criticized his earmarks for his D.C. Council health committee. When Catania had his turn to speak, he said he wouldn’t talk about “how our relationship changed,” a neat innuendo that implies he’s too kind to bring up the real reason behind their bad blood. With that, Catania dodged a train of dialogue that, in the WAMU debate, ended with Schwartz bringing up his toxic $50,000 campaign fundraising for George W. Bush.

When moderator and Southwester editor Shannon Vaughn to steer the candidates to Waterfront issues, Catania promised to provide the neighborhood with a free-standing library when its current library is replaced. Schwartz continued to promote her idea for a tax break to lure former District residents back to the city, with a special mention for Prince George’s County emigres in “Ward 9.”

Bowser’s absence from the debate, meanwhile, didn’t stop the candidates from vigorously slamming her, too. Neither was reluctant to acknowledge the empty chair intended for Bowser. Catania referenced a candidate “on this stage—-or perhaps who is not on this stage.”

That unnamed candidate will get a chance to reveal herself next week, when Bowser rejoins her rivals for the NBC4/Washington Post debate next Wednesday and the Ward 8 Collaborative Forum next Thursday.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery