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Brian Hart
At-large D.C. Council hopeful Robert White got some help standing out from his many competitors this summer when he received endorsements from two councilmembers. But now at-large rival Brian Hart complains he didn’t have a fair shot at those same endorsements.

In an email to supporters this afternoon, Hart singles out Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, who endorsed White yesterday. Hart campaign manager Samantha Hicks tells LL that Hart tried to set up a meeting to seek Alexander’s endorsement, but never got a chance to make his case.

“That endorsement was made without meeting with each candidate in the field, before any public forums or debates involving candidates had occurred, and before the true campaign season had even started,” Hart writes in his email.

LL’s not sure how Hart, an Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, could have won over Alexander with just a meeting. Nevertheless, his email implies that endorsements for White from Alexander and Ward 5’s Kenyan McDuffie amounted to “back-door dealings and picking favorites.”

Hart even includes a portion on how he would endorse candidates if he were on the Council:

If elected to the DC Council, I will advocate for honesty and transparency, and I will engage in a fair and open process if I choose to endorse a candidate in an election: I will do my best to hear the candidates speak at a forum or debate, to understand their positions and weigh their convictions, and to accept a meeting with any candidate who requests it.

Hart ends with a jab at White’s expansive proposal to ban all campaign contributions from both corporations and individuals.

“There has been talk recently by at least one other candidate of clean elections in future, hypothetical elections,” Hart writes. “Let’s start with a clean election in this election.”

LL doubts it’ll be much comfort to Hart, but there’s good evidence that Council endorsements don’t matter in the District.

Consider the fate of 2011 at-large candidate Sekou Biddle, who scored endorsements from Alexander and six other councilmembers. Despite getting the thumbs-up from the Council and another endorsement from Vince Gray, though, Biddle came in only third in his special election.

Hart’s email:

I write this statement with substantial concern for the current honesty and integrity of the At-Large election for DC City Council.

Yesterday, a second councilmember endorsed a candidate in the At-large race. That endorsement was made without meeting with each candidate in the field, before any public forums or debates involving candidates had occurred, and before the true campaign season had even started.

A number of organizations, to their credit, endorse candidates through a transparent process of questionnaires and interviews. This is an important process that at least allows them to hear from the various candidates and make an informed decision. Shouldn’t we expect our public officials, with arguably more sway, to engage in a similar process?

Otherwise, we are left with the old politics as usual, with back-door dealings and picking favorites, not the new government of transparency and fairness that we seek. Most agree that, instead, we should strive to elect public officials based on the merits of their ideas, the strength of their records, and the power of their convictions. If elected to the DC Council, I will advocate for honesty and transparency, and I will engage in a fair and open process if I choose to endorse a candidate in an election: I will do my best to hear the candidates speak at a forum or debate, to understand their positions and weigh their convictions, and to accept a meeting with any candidate who requests it. I will take this same honest and diligent approach to legislation and other matters before the Council.

These issues ring especially true in our nation’s capital, where citizens have fought for many years to be treated fairly and transparently by Congress and enjoy greater self-governance and local autonomy, and to this day, fight for their voices to be heard in the halls of Congress.

The public should have a real choice in this election, with debates, forums and public discourse. Voters will then have an opportunity to evaluate for themselves which candidate they think would best represent their interests and serve the public good. There has been talk recently by at least one other candidate of clean elections in future, hypothetical elections. Let’s start with a clean election in this election.

Sincerely,

Brian Hart

Photo courtesy Brian Hart