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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good afternoon sweet readers! Many thanks to everyone who turned out, helped organize, and participated in last night’s at-large special election candidate forum/debate at Black Cat. It was fun, no? LL will be posting the results of the pop quiz he gave candidates later today, but can tell you now that none of the five candidates at the event know former Mayor-For-Life Marion Barry‘s middle name. News time:
Mara Wins!: Republican candidate Pat Mara learned via Google news alerts during the debate yesterday (seriously, is LL the only dude on the planet not to have a Google news alert for his own name? Y’all so vain!) that he’d won the coveted endorsement of The Washington Post editorial board. LL thought it a little gauche of Mara to start singing “The Final Countdown” on stage, but can understand his enthusiasm. We all know the Post‘s influence ain’t what it used to be (right, Still Mayor Adrian Fenty?), but in a special election with what’s likely to be a small turnout, getting the daily paper of record’s nod is a big deal. Now, whether that’ll help Mara beat frontrunner (yeah, LL said it) Vincent Orange is a different story.
The endorsement rightly points out, as we saw at the forum last night, that none of the top candidates are duds, and there’s more than one good option available. That being said, the Post says Mara deserves to win because he’s got “the strong, independent voice” needed “to help the city regain its footing.” “We think it would be healthy to temper the one-party domination of D.C. government, but that’s only the beginning of an argument. Mr. Mara is a socially progressive, fiscally conservative Republican who would bring diversity of thought and approach to the 13-member body. He has the strength to stand up for his beliefs but the pragmatism to form coalitions,” says the Post. As for the rest of the candidates, including Orange, Councilmember Sekou Biddle, Josh Lopez, and Bryan Weaver, the Post dismisses them thusly: “Mr. Orange, who has lost recent races for mayor and council chair, brings the most experience, with strong fiscal credentials, but his candidacy, embraced by organized labor, is more about looking backward than forward. Mr. Biddle is earnest and thoughtful, with an impressive record in school reform, but he too easily adjusts his positions; he has wavered on tax hikes, school vouchers and whether he is independent from or allied with Mr. Brown. Mr. Weaver is well informed, but his approach to government is unbendingly liberal, with increased taxes seemingly his only solution. Mr. Lopez, who would be the first Hispanic on the council if elected, is running an energetic, forthright campaign. There’s no doubt that he, too, would be an independent voice on the council, but he would benefit from more experience.” LL’s instant reaction: good news for Mara, very bad news for Biddle, who really needed it.
Check LL for more coverage of the Washington City Paper debate throughout the day, including audio of the whole thing (if LL’s editor, who recorded it, actually knows what he’s doing).
AFTER THE JUMP: Gray’s Media Blitz; Arrestgate; Where’s EHN?…
Media Day: Mayor Vince Gray has been making the rounds of the national media following his arrest on Monday. Gray was on CNN, took a spin around the no-spin zone with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly (who compared D.C. to a ancient Greek city-state and also said, “now look, you’re a good man Mr. Gray), and was the lede of an editorial in The New York Times. “Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington was so angry that the budget deal prohibited his city from spending its own money on abortion that he blocked traffic outside the Capitol, getting arrested in the process. His rage was a sharp departure from the general self-congratulation of Democratic leaders and President Obama’s failure to tell the truth about the budget deal for this year: It ushers in a denuded era of loss to vital government services, mostly at the expense of the most vulnerable. If Mr. Obama and the Democrats believe in the promise of his campaign—that government must do what individuals cannot for themselves—they need to summon some new fighting strength.”
Arrestgate: Gray says he hopes his arrest will be the “spark” that leads to a prolonged movement for D.C. rights. Contrast that with NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood‘s take on the fightin’ 41 who were arrested Monday: “But the sad fact is that the city’s episodic bursts of enthusiasm for demonstrating are just that—episodic. Daily life, scandal, pressures of governing and everything else have a way of whittling down interest in sustained protest.” And Slate’s Dave Weigel reminds us that it’s not showfriends, it’s showpolitics: “Obama picked the right guts to punch.” Sherwood also teases Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown, who was also arrested and gave a detailed account of his harrowing adventure to the WBJ.
Where Are You?: The Post tries to figure out why Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton missed out on the one and only event she was really supposed to be at on Monday. “Around 6:30 p.m. Monday—as the mayor and council members were sitting in the middle of Constitution Avenue, blocking traffic – Norton’s official Twitter feed said this: ‘Tied up. Trying 2 get 2 the @DC_Vote rally. R u at 2nd & Constitution yet?’ But several hours later, around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Norton’s office issued a lengthy news release praising the protesters and explaining that she ‘decided not to attend Monday’s rally so that members of Congress could see that it was entirely a ‘people’s rally,’ not an action that had or needed her leadership. So which was it – did she deliberately skip the rally, or was she ‘tied up’ and ‘trying 2 get’ there? On Tuesday, her office explained the discrepancy: Her staff had used her Twitter feed to say that she was going to the rally because they assumed she was, but she had actually already decided not to go because she didn’t want it to look like the demonstration–which was organized by the advocacy group DC Vote—had been spearheaded by her.” If that’s true, then why did her office wait until past 1 a.m. on Tuesday to issue a statement praising those arrested and explaining why she wasn’t there? Seems like odd timing.
In Other News: White House: compromises are tough. Jonetta likes Mara, or Orange; take your pick. LL is a huge fan of Examiner cartoonist Nate Beeler, but this one was a little much. Former DOES boss Rochelle Webb says ex-offender program is improperly funded. DC for Obama might need a new name.
Gray sked: Lots of media interviews and a 7 p.m. appearance at the State of Qatar Dinner.
Council sked: Lots of agency meetings at 10 a.m.