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Andy Shallal wasn’t the only longshot candidate outraged after being left out of last night’s televised debate on WUSA9. While the Busboys and Poets owners asked his supporters for help getting into last night’s, at-large D.C. Councilmember and fellow excluded candidate Vincent Orange tried a different tactic, filing suit yesterday against WUSA9 owner Gannett for harassment.
Orange’s arguments for being included in or delaying the debate are moot now that it’s been over for nearly 24 hours. Since Legal Times‘ Zoe Tillman dug up the lawsuit, though, they’re worth a look anyway.
In his documents related to his request for a restraining order, Orange’s arguments for inclusion include his endorsement by unions representing grocery store workers and unions, his support for the $11.50 minimum wage hike, and the assertion that debate-attending rivals Jack Evans, Muriel Bowser, and Tommy Wells possess “significantly less impressive” legislative records than Orange.
Speaking of claims that Orange’s Council colleagues might disagree with, Bowser will be surprised to learn that Orange is the only African-American councilmember in the race:
Plaintiff Orange is the only African American Councilmember challenging the incumbent mayor in the race. A such, his prospective [sic] as to the issues confronting the city is extremely important. It is in the public interest for would-be voters hear from the lone male, African/American city councilmember challenging the incumbent mayor.
In another court paper, Orange attorney Ronald C. Jessamy pushes back on the idea that Orange is polling too low—-at 2 percent, in a recent Washington City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show poll—-to be included.
“There is only one poll that matters, that is the one rendered on Election Day by the voters, not by citizens reached by robo calls,” Jessamy writes. (LL would note that Orange was at 3 percent in a Washington Post poll that came out this week and was conducted by live dialers.)
Gannett didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment. Orange and Jessamy also didn’t respond to requests for comment about what’s next for the lawsuit.
This isn’t Orange’s first attempt to use a trip to the courthouse to further his political aims. In 2005, he sued then-D.C. Council chairwoman Linda Cropp after Cropp blocked an attempt by Orange’s government operations committee to hold a hearing on Nationals Park.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery