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Mayor Adrian Fenty may be repudiating their efforts, but some of his most loyal followers are still pursuing a write-in campaign for the mayor in the Nov. 2 general election. (Remember, even though it might be the most meaningless day in the D.C. political calendar, it’s still happening.) And the release of Waiting for “Superman” is giving the write-in attempt its latest rallying cry.
Despite my negative review of the film, the much-hyped education documentary was the hardest ticket to find this weekend at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. When I went there Friday night to see something else, the entrance to the theater was surrounded by former staff and volunteers of Fenty’s primary campaign, who touted the glowing portrayal of D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in Waiting for “Superman” as their latest reason to cast write-in ballots for our ousted mayor.
Donny Gonzalez, a Columbia Heights resident who admitted he hadn’t yet seen the documentary, spent much of last spring and summer volunteering for Fenty’s reelection effort. A graduate of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Shaw, Gonzalez is a big Rhee fan and fears that mayor-in-waiting Vince Gray will undo the reforms made over the past four years.
“We’re finally starting to see improvements and we need to support the mayor that got us there,” Gonzalez told me while passing out some of the unauthorized Fenty literature that the write-in backers have produced. “We need to support the chancellor that got us there.”
Also picketing the theater were staffers of Democrats for Education Reform. Devin Q. Boyle, the group’s legislative liaison, was pushing her group’s “Done Waiting,” campaign that is attempting to transfer the popularity of Waiting for “Superman” into activism. (The film does this as well in its lengthy end credits. Its distributor, Participant Media, is not working with Democrats for Education Reform, Boyle said.) Boyle insisted her group was not coordinating with the Fenty backers—but she didn’t mind the confluence.
“We are in support of Fenty and Rhee,” she said.
Both groups found an supporter in Laura Blood, who stood right next to the theater entrance hoisting a sign reading, “We can be Superman. Write Fenty in.” Blood, a Ward 2 resident and mother of a 5-year-old enrolled in what she called one of DCPS’ “great schools,” attempted to buy tickets earlier in the day—only to find that every showing on Friday was sold out. But moved by a recent episode of Oprah featuring Rhee, Bill Gates and Waiting for “Superman” director Davis Guggenheim, she returned to the theater with the sign and her family in tow.
Of the canvassers hovering around E Street, only Boyle had seen the film as of Friday evening. In addition to their enthusiasm for a documentary showcasing Rhee, they were unified in their defiance of the long odds against an unauthorized write-in campaign in a mostly ignored general election.
“Republicans weren’t allowed to vote on the Democratic ticket and neither were the independents,” Gonzalez said about the Sept. 14 primary. “We always talk about statehood and no taxation without representation, but here we are disenfranchising a large amount of D.C. residents by not allowing them to participate in electing the true mayor of D.C.—Adrian Fenty.”
Photo by Benjamin R. Freed