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A moment after arriving at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont tonight, Paul Zukerberg ordered himself a Maker’s Mark. “It’s been a long four months,” he said.
The polls had just closed, and the longshot candidate—-whose campaign for an at-large D.C. Council seat largely centered on the issue of marijuana decriminalization—-was hoping for a decent showing in the returns. “It takes time to earn people’s trust and confidence,” he said, asked if this would be his last run for D.C. Council.
Zukerberg said that over the course of his campaign, he’d succeeded in raising awareness of the deleterious effects of marijuana enforcement on the young and poor. Of marijuana decriminalization’s chances in D.C., he said, “I think they’re better off than they were four months ago. I showed people that it is an issue.”
A small crowd of supporters—-including Hank’s co-owner Leslie Detenber—-had gathered here, congratulating Zukerberg on his push. The campaign had culminated with a 4/20 concert on the National Mall on Saturday that Zukerberg’s event coordinator, John Pylka, said drew 500 people. Although Pylka said he discouraged people from lighting up at the rally, the National Park Police kept a loose and permissive watch. “They gave us a break,” Pylka said, perhaps because of the tragedy-filled week.
Zukerberg said he didn’t regret his campaign’s focus on marijuana, even if it may have led people to discount it as a single-issue effort. “I had to get this message out,” he said.
Zukerberg’s supporters circled around the bar as Detenber emerged with a hefty tray of oysters. “I’m afraid it’s an aphrodisiac,” Zukerberg quipped.
At 9:40 p.m., as the first precinct returns showed Zukerberg had so far pulled in less than 3 percent of the vote, the bartender announced it was last call. “It must be bad news for me,” Zukerberg said, “because the bar is closing.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery