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Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George has joined the conversation about the Ward 5 race for D.C. Council. The freshman lawmaker announced Thursday that she’s endorsing Zachary Parker to replace Kenyan McDuffie, who gave up the seat for an ill-fated run for attorney general.
“Zachary and I have worked together since his time as Ward 5’s rep on the State Board of Education,” Lewis George says in an email to constituents. “He impressed me then as a dedicated public servant who works with diligence and integrity. He’s also an independent thinker who will take oversight seriously, and make sure our agencies work well for Ward 5 residents.”
Lewis George’s endorsement comes after At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson endorsed one of Parker’s opponents Faith Gibson Hubbard earlier this year and shortly after the Washington Post editorial board dropped its own picks in local races, lending support to candidates they believe will counter the “leftward shift on the council.” In Ward 5, the predictably moderate ed board also likes Gibson Hubbard, a former Bowser administration official, for her “reputation as a collaborator with a common-sense approach to government, qualities that would be valuable to the council.”
Although it’s somewhat uncommon sitting councilmembers to issue endorsements, some have weighed in on races without an incumbent. Departing Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh was one exception in recent memory when she endorsed Robert White over Vincent Orange for an at-large seat in 2016. Cheh is giving up the Ward 3 seat that she’s held since 2007, and voters are tapping their feet waiting to see if she will endorse one of the nine candidates on her way out.
Orange is now running against Parker in Ward 5 and dug himself into a bit of a hole last week during a forum hosted by the pro-LGBTQ group Capital Stonewall Democrats. In his closing statement, Orange said Parker’s decision to publicly announce that he’s gay was a “matter of convenience” and questioned Parker’s record supporting queer issues.
Orange himself doesn’t have the best history in that regard. He was an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage during his 2006 run for mayor, though he has since changed his stance.
Along with Gibson Hubbard, Gordon-Andrew Fletcher, an advisory neighborhood commissioner and president of the Ward 5 Democrats, rounds out the four-way race.
Parker, who is the president of the State Board of Education, where he represents Ward 5, also has endorsements from progressive Ed Lazere and outgoing Attorney General Karl Racine.
The big question, of course, is whether all these endorsements will matter in a city where political coattails haven’t counted for much. Gibson Hubbard is no doubt hoping that the Post‘s stamp of approval will bolster her campaign just like it did for Henderson and Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto. Parker, meanwhile, has cast his lot with lefty groups and hopes to benefit from the same energy that helped Lewis George bounce Brandon Todd from the Ward 4 seat.