Ernest Johnson (in white)

LL headed over to Columbia Heights on Saturday for independent Ward 1 D.C. Council candidate Ernest Johnson‘s campaign kickoff rally. Could Johnson’s event draw numbers that would suggest he can stitch together some sort of coalition opposed to Democratic nominee Brianne Nadeau?

The answer: probably not. The rally left LL convinced that Nadeau can go ahead and pick out her Wilson Building office furniture.

By LL’s count, Johnson’s audience at the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace consisted entirely of LL himself, two supporters under a tent, and a whole lot of disinterested people doing other things. While Johnson explained his platform (anti-Reeves Center swap, pro-school vouchers), his rival market tents—-including a face-painting clown—-drew much brisker business.

Even his request that people in the plaza chant that Ward 1 is “number one” received only a few half-hearted shouts. Johnson didn’t respond to a request for comment about the lackluster turnout.

If any dead-enders for ousted Ward 1 incumbent Jim Graham are backing Johnson, they were all but absent on Saturday. Still, activist John Zottoli, a Graham fan so fierce he was at the councilmember’s side during his pre-primary Starbucks showdown with Nadeau, circled the market collecting signatures for Johnson.

“If it wasn’t a race, you wouldn’t have a job,” Zottoli told LL by way of his explaining his presence at the rally.


Photo by Will Sommer