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At last night’s Washington City Paper/WPFW Ward 4 debate, the five challengers did their best to get some licks on incumbent Councilmember Muriel Bowser. Maybe it was because the venue, Petworth’s Domku, was stacked with Bowser supporters, but LL didn’t see many blows land.
The three lines of attack used most often were 1) that Bowser allegedly allowed Ward 4 schools to get short-changed in the capital spending department; 2) Bowser’s support of Wal-Mart is at odds with what the ward needs; and 3) her implied or explicit support of a “pay-to-play” political culture down at the Wilson Building.
If there’s gold to be mined in any of those arguments, LL didn’t hear any of Bowser’s challengers—Baruti Jahi, somewhat sardonic crowd favorite Calvin Gurley, Judi Jones, Renee Bowser and Max Skolnik—hit paydirt last night. It could be their delivery, or it could be that her challengers need some new issues to talk about. School funding is pretty unsexy by nature. Wal-Mart’s impending arrival just doesn’t appear to be that big a deal to most voters (though for the people for whom it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal). And though Bowser can fundraise with the best of them, she’s pretty well-removed from the stink emanating from some of her colleagues.
Or maybe it’s just that Bowser’s had this race wrapped up for a while, and nothing her challengers do/say will make much of a difference. On that note, LL should add that Bowser left the door wide open when asked about the rumors that she’s considering a run for the mayor’s job in 2014. Bowser gave the boilerplate answer most politicians considering higher office give: she said that if she were to try and move up the ladder, it would only be with Ward 4’s consent.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery