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The 2014 attorney general’s race gets its first candidate this morning, with lawyer Paul Zukerberg announcing in a press release that he’ll file candidacy papers today at the Board of Elections. With that hurdle passed, the attorney general election just needs to clear one more: actually happening.
Zukerberg, a lawyer and one-time At-Large Council candidate, is also suing the D.C. government to stop a bill would move the election to 2018. A hearing on Zukerberg’s attempt to keep the race on the ballot is scheduled for Thursday.
The candidacy could improve Zukerberg’s chances to claim standing for his lawsuit. Before Zukerberg announced his candidacy, the Office of the Attorney General has argued that Zukerberg wouldn’t experience “meaningful hardship” if the election was delayed.
“As attorney general, I will fight corruption, protect our citizens, and reform our broken juvenile justice system,” Zukerberg says in his release. “And I will never sit idly by, or bow to pressure, when the voting rights of District residents are threatened.”
Zukerberg’s full release:
(Washington, D.C.) — Today, Paul Zukerberg, a trial lawyer with offices in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., officially enters the race to become the District’s first elected attorney general. If the election goes forward, D.C. will join the 43 states in which voters elect an independent attorney general.
Zukerberg, a Democrat, will file his candidacy at the D.C. Board of Elections on Monday morning at 10:30 a.m.
The primary election for Attorney General is scheduled for April 1, 2014. However, legislation passed by the D.C. Council, and approved without signature by Mayor Vince Gray, will cancel the election – despite the fact that 76% of D.C. voters approved a ballot initiative calling for an elected attorney general beginning in 2014.
Zukerberg is challenging in federal court the government’s decision to cancel the attorney general election.
“For over a quarter century I have been fighting for equal justice under the law,” said Zukerberg. “In that time, I have seen a lot of injustice, but never did I believe that in America I would see our government cancel an election.”
“As attorney general, I will fight corruption, protect our citizens, and reform our broken juvenile justice system,” Zukerberg continued. “And I will never sit idly by, or bow to pressure, when the voting rights of District residents are threatened.”
“We are engaged in a court battle testing whether the people’s decision to elect their attorney general will be respected by the Council and the Mayor. This fight is about more than any single candidate, or any one election. It is about the fundamental right of the people to chose their own form of government,” said Zukerberg.
“An overwhelming majority of D.C. voters supported the referendum which created an elected attorney general. But, the D.C. Council and Mayor Gray are opposing the decision of the voters. Fortunately, we have a Constitution and courts where our voting rights can be vindicated,” concluded Zukerberg.
On Thursday, November 7th, at 10:00 a.m., federal judge James E. “Jeb” Boasberg will hear oral argument on Zukerberg’s motion for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the Board of Elections from removing the office of attorney general from the 2014 ballot. Current attorney general Irv Nathan is representing the defendants, the Board of Elections and Ethics, and the D.C. Council. Gary A. Thompson, a partner in the D.C. office of Reed Smith, is representing Mr. Zukerberg. A timely ruling is anticipated.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery