Council candidate Marcus Goodwin
At-Large Council candidate Marcus Goodwin. Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

Marcus Goodwin‘s feelings are hurt because Elissa Silverman is being mean to him.

Two of the more recognizable candidates running for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council—Goodwin and Ed Lazere—notched endorsements from sitting councilmembers this week. Cheap shots and lame mudslinging ensued. With 41 days to go before Nov. 3, LL had higher expectations.

In a campaign email sent last night, Goodwin writes that he was “pretty upset” when he saw Silverman, an at-large councilmember, using her endorsement of Lazere, her former boss, to attack him. Silverman worked for Lazere at the left-leaning DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Lazere stepped down as the think tank’s executive director earlier this year to run for office.

As one of the Council’s most progressive members, Silverman encouraged residents to vote for Lazere in her own email earlier this week. She attempted to distinguish him from two other candidates in the race who claim the “progressive” mantel, but she conspicuously left the names of her targets a mystery.

Silverman writes about how the “leader of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce” fought against paid family leave and tried to reduce the unemployment insurance trust fund without naming Vincent Orange. Google can solve this puzzle.

Goodwin, on the other hand, is only dubbed “the real estate developer.” Silverman writes that he “received many maximum $1,000 contributions from real estate executives and LLCs.”

Dedicated observers of D.C. politics could intuit that her barbs were aimed at Goodwin and Orange, but the ambiguity confounds LL. If you’re gonna throw rocks, say who you’re trying to hit.

“Do you really believe—especially at this time when your taxpayer dollars are so precious—that either of these candidates are going to side with working families over the interests of big business and developers?” Silverman writes in the email. She declined to comment further.

Ed Lazere (center left) and his staff at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute in 2011 (file)
Ed Lazere (center left) and Elissa Silverman (center, right) when they worked at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute in 2011. Jenny Reed, (back left) current director of the D.C. Office of Budget and Performance Management. (file) Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Goodwin responded with his own email Tuesday night with the subject line, “the attacks are starting.”

“I know many people hate politics because of all the negative campaigning and mudslinging,” he writes. “I do too.”

And yet, he couldn’t help but return a jab at Silverman.

“Yes, that’s the very same Councilmember Elissa Silverman who made support for Black Lives Matter transactional during the height of protests after George Floyd was murdered,” Goodwin writes in the same campaign email.

Asked about the hypocrisy of matching one attack with another, Goodwin says he’s just stating the facts.

“It’s not launching an attack when it was widely published in City Paper,” he says. “There are a lot of real estate executives who gave me money and also gave Silverman money in her 2018 campaign.”

Silverman took contributions from some developers in 2018, such as Donahue Peebles III, of the Peebles Corporation, John Ritz of WC Smith, William Alsup of Hines, and Tim Chapman of Chapman Development LLC.

But neither Silverman nor Lazere took contributions from corporations in 2018, and this year Lazere is running under the District’s new public campaign financing program. To qualify for the program, candidates for at-large Council seats agree to accept maximum contributions of $100 and reject contributions from businesses or political action committees.

Goodwin is raising money under the traditional campaign financing system, and his finance reports read like a sign-in sheet for a District of Columbia Building Industry Association meeting.

LL also notes that Goodwin didn’t hold back in June when Orange was considering jumping into the race.

“The city doesn’t need more crooks trying to hold public office,” Goodwin told LL at the time. Orange brushed aside Goodwin’s comments as youthful inexperience, writing in a text that “it’s this type of nonsense that destroys good people.”

Vince Gray
Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray Credit: Darrow Montgomery

This morning, Goodwin announced an endorsement from Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray.

“He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk,” Gray says in a snazzy video accompanying the announcement. “Which means he understands the needs and qualities of the people of the District of Columbia, and I think we’re going to see him demonstrate those qualities every day at the Council of the District of Columbia.”

A handful of other locally elected leaders have weighed in on the at-large race, where voters will pick two out of the 24 candidates on the ballot to fill the seats currently held by councilmembers David Grosso and Robert White. White is the Democratic nominee, and Grosso, an independent, is not running for a third term. At least one of the two seats is reserved for a candidate of the non-majority party.

Grosso endorsed his former staffer Christina Henderson, who will soon take a leave of absence from her job in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer‘s office to focus on the campaign full time.

Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and Attorney General Karl Racine endorsed Lazere.

At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds endorsed White, as did Silverman.

And the Democratic nominee for the Ward 4 seat, Janeese Lewis George, endorsed Lazere and White. George defeated Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd in the primary. She’s running against statehood green candidate Perry Redd in the General Election.

Lazere is racking up endorsements from progressive groups and labor unions, including three that he just announced today: the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, and ATU Local 689. One group missing from Lazere’s growing list, Goodwin points out, is the Washington Teachers’ Union, which endorsed Ward 8 State Board of Education Rep. Markus Batchelor, who is also running for the at-large Council seat.

“He couldn’t even maintain the WTU endorsement, which he got two years ago over the chairman of the Council,” Goodwin says when asked if Lazere’s list of endorsements concerns him. “And now he lost it to Markus Batchelor, who doesn’t have nearly the legacy of work that he has. So it doesn’t concern me.”

Although endorsements don’t necessarily translate to victories, they’re a useful barometer for determining where a candidate aligns. In addition to Gray, Goodwin has endorsements from former Councilmembers Charlene Drew Jarvis and Frank Smith. Cora Masters Barry, the widow of Mayor for Life Marion Barry, endorsed Goodwin, as did Bill Lightfoot, the man behind Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s political “Green Team.”

Goodwin says he’s talked to other coucilmembers about endorsements but declined to say which, if any, will publicly lend him their support. He’s also interviewed with the Washington Post‘s editorial board, which has yet to announce its preferred candidate. The ed board endorsed Goodwin’s failed run against Bonds in 2018, and despite their spotty track record on endorsements, their support could weigh heavily in a crowded race. Just ask Brooke Pinto.

Read our 2020 elections coverage: