Pat Mara, looking in the above video like an earnest high school student making a practice tape for speech class, has thrown his hat in the ring for the at-large seat.
The announcement is hardly shocking, given that these rare special elections seem to be a Republican’s best shot at winning a council seat. (If you don’t know by now, then-Republican David Catania was the surprise victor of the 1997 special election.)
Mara’s definitely got a fighting chance of winning the election. He’s proven himself as a hardworking campaigner, both in knocking off Carol Schwartz in the 2008 Republican primary, and beating Ward 1 school board member Dotti Love Wade last year. (Mara, by the way, has been a school board member for just over two weeks now. Granted, it does seem like an almost worthless gig.)
Mara will also have the backing of the well-run D.C. GOP, and might be an attractive candidate to Republicans nationwide, who probably get a kick out of seeing one of their own elected in such a deep blue city.
Special elections are all about locking up your base, and Mara can claim ownership of the city’s 30,000 registered Republicans, who don’t often get to cast votes that may actually count for something. If Mara managed to get most of those folks fired up and to the polls, he could probably win the low-turnout election easily without needing a single Democratic vote.
But Mara’s will also be courting Democrats, and is hoping his fiscal conservatism coupled with his moderate stances on social issues (he’s for gay marriage) will help him win some converts. The most obvious target Mara could shoot for is supporters of former Mayor Adrian Fenty, who might still be feeling a little raw from last year’s shellacking. But Mara might feel a little squeezed. Recently appointed Councilmember Sekou Biddle, former Fenty campaign aide Josh Lopez, and former DDOT Director Gabe Klein (who may run) will also be hunting for Fenty-voters.
Worth noting: In his announcement, Mara takes a subtle jab at Biddle, who was appointed to position earlier this year by the D.C. Democratic State Committee with the backing of several sitting councilmembers.
“If you want to ignore our problems, vote for a candidate who is cozy with the powerful politicians and special interests who got us into this mess,” Mara says.
Sekou, over to you.