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“Is it just conceivable that Washington is on the verge of becoming a two-party town?”
That question was the final line of a Washington Post editorial from July 28, 1989, a day after former police chief Maurice Turner changed party affiliation at a White House ceremony with then-President George H.W. Bush.
Turner, who served as top cop under former Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry, made a late-in-life conversion to the Republican Party in advance of his 1990 mayoral run.
“The man has been a lifelong Democrat, but he made a principled decision based on what he feels is the best answer to helping solve the problems of urban America,” Bush said of Turner.
Turner said he “got tired of being taken for granted . . . . I think that blacks in this town need to become part of the mainstream Republican Party.”
Turns out D.C. didn’t take Turner’s advice. He lost to his Democratic rival Sharon Pratt by 75 points and D.C. is just a Democratic town today as it was 20 years ago.
Now comes Ron Moten, one of D.C.’s most colorful political fixtures, who says he, too, is making a principled stand against the Democratic Party. Moten, a lifelong Democrat, recently party swapped to the Republican Party in advance of his Ward 7 council run.
Moten kicked off his campaign Saturday at Woodlawn Cemetery. (Why the scary digs? The cemetery is the final resting place of Sen. Blanche Bruce, a Republican from Mississippi who was the first elected black senator to serve a full term, as well as John Mercer Langston, the first dean of Howard University Law School, who was also elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives. Moten, who passed out posters and T-shirts that read “Civil Rights Republicans,” pointed to Bruce and Langston as model black Republicans, albeit ones who have been dead for more than a century.)
Moten gave a long, disjointed, and at times very loud sermon/speech Saturday. The thesis: the Democratic Party’s control of local politics over the last 40 years is responsible for pretty much every problem affecting black residents, from the dearth of successful locally owned black-owned businesses to the dysfunction in the school system. “They ain’t accountable to anyone,” said Moten of local Dems.
Moten made similar points in his Sunday WaPo Op-ed: “The greed and corruption of legacy politics have become entrenched. We have allowed a privileged few to act as kingmakers, crowning as a result generations of lackluster politicians who seem not to have the District’s best interests at heart.”
That may be, Ron, but good luck winning on that platform in this town, during a general election that coincides with President Barack Obama‘s re-election campaign. Also: LL doesn’t seem to recall Moten complaining about “greed and corruption of legacy politics” when he was barnstorming the city last year trying to get an incumbent Democratic mayor elected…