by April 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm 1,751 1 Comment

"Borderstan""Biddle-Orange""Council Race"

Biddle  versus Orange not over: Sing? The fat lady hasn’t even gone on stage yet. (Luis Gomez Photos)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]

It’s still undecided. Sekou Biddle trails incumbent Vincent Orange in the Tuesday vote for the Democratic nomination for At-Large DC Council seat by just 543 votes. But as noted on Wednesday, the race is not over.

In addition to at several thousand absentee ballots, there are also several thousand provisional ballots to be counted, according to WAMU — and a recount after the votes have all be counted is a real possibility. It will all be decided (barring a recount) when absentee and provisional (special ballots cast on election day) are tallied on April 13. The Washington City Paper reported Wednesday that there are more than 3,800 absentee ballots.

According to CBS DC, “The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics says 3,348 Democrats requested absentee ballots. So far, 1,554 have been returned. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.

Given the dismal turnout (less than 16% of the populace turned out), any small edge or blurry edges between candidates becomes incredibly important. Biddle actually leads in five of the city’s eight wards — 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. Orange, though, ran up larger margins in Wards 5, 7 and 8 over Biddle. In the Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods, Biddle ran very strong, with large wins in almost all are preincints.

Given the margin of victory here, it seems unlikely that any first ‘official’ decision will be deemed official by any of the candidates. I’m predicting a recount.

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by April 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm 2,133 1 Comment

From Matty Rhoades. Email him at matty[AT]

The one contested race for residents of Dupont-Logan-U Street in yesterday’s primary election was the Democratic nomination for an At-Large Council seat. After all 143 of DC’s precincts reported in last night, incumbent Vincent Orange holds a 543 vote lead over Sekou Biddle, according to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) — but absentee and provisional ballots have to be counted on April 13. It was a rematch of last year’s special election to fill the seat. Citywide, Biddle leads in Wards 1, 2, 3 4 and 6, but Orange holds the lead due to high support in Wards 5, 7 and 8. Locally, however, Biddle won big in most precincts in the Borderstan area.

Luis, Gomez, Photos, Black, Cat,

The Dem nomination for an At-Large Council seat is still undecided as of Wednesday morning. (Luis Gomez Photos)

In the Ward 2 race, incumbent Democrat Jack Evans had no opponent for the Democratic nomination; there were no candidates running in the GOP Primary to face Evans in the November 6 general election. Evans got 80% of the vote yesterday, while 12% did not vote in the race (counted as Under Votes) and 7% were Write In votes.

Turnout was very light, with about 15% of city voters going to the polls Tuesday.

Biddle vs. Orange

As of this morning, the DC count for the At-Large Dem nomination is:

  • Vincent Orange: 21,237 votes, 39.77%
  • Sekou Biddle: 20,694, 38.75%
  • Peter Shapiro: 5616, 10.51%
  • E. Gail Anderson Holness: 3,873 votes, 7.25%
  • Under Votes (blank ballot): 1,614 votes, 3.02%
  • Write In: 335 votes, 0.62%

1,700 Absentee, Provisional Ballots Outstanding

According to The Washington Post, there are about 1,700 absentee and provisional ballots to be counted before a winner in the race can be determined; those votes will be counted April 13. However, with such few outstanding ballots to be counted, Biddle would have to win a big chunk of them to overtake Orange. The question is, what part of the city are the absentee and provisional ballots concentrated? Are they spread evenly across DC precincts, or are they concentrated in Orange or Biddle  strongholds. But with only 1,700 votes to be counted, Biddle would have to win a huge percentage of them to overtake Orange.

Biddle Wins Most Local Precincts

Who did voters in the Dupont-Logan-U Street and surrounding areas support compared to the rest of the city? In 14 local precincts in Wards 1, 2 and 6, Biddle leads in 12 of them. (Two Logan-Shaw precincts, 18 and 21, were formerly in Ward 2 before being moved to Ward 6 following redistricting after the 2010 Census). The results for the 14 selected precincts are in the table below; Biddle leads in 12 and Orange in the 2 Shaw precincts. DCBOEE has maps of precincts.

Democratic Nomination for At-Large DC Council Seat

Precinct  / Ward Sekou Biddle E. Gail Holness Anderson Vincent Orange Peter Shapiro Write In Under Vote
4 / W2 59% 2% 9% 28% 1% 1%
13 / W 2 66% 3% 8% 21% <1% 1%
14 / W2 64% 4% 7% 24% <1% 1%
15 / W2 68% 4% 8% 18% 0% 2%
16 / W2 66% 3%  15% 15% 0% 2%
17 / W2 555 6% 19% 16% <1%  3%
18 / W6  32% 9%  46%  11%  <1% 1%
21 / W6  31% 8% 41% 14%  2% 3%
22 / W1  60%  5% 22% 11% 1%  <1%
23 / W1 48% 7% 31% 12% 0% 2%
24 / W1 61% 3% 20% 14% 1% 0%
25 / W1 75% 3% 6% 15% 0% 1%
137 / W1 52% 5%  31% 10% 1%  2%
141 / W2  68% 3% 11% 14% 1%  2%
  • 4 – West End Public Library, 1101 24th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 13 -Our Lady of the Americas, 2200 California Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 14 – St. Thomas Episcopal Church Parish, 1772 Church Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 15 – Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 16 – Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, 1701 15th Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 17 – Metropolitan AME Church, 1518 M Street NW (Ward 2)
  • 18 – Kennedy Recreation Center 1407 7th Street NW (Ward 6)
  • 21 – Shaw Library, 1630 7th Street NW (Ward 6)
  • 22 – Garnet-Patterson Jr. High School, 2001 10th Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 23 – LOUGHRAN COMMUNITY CENTER, 2500 14th Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 24 – Marie Reed Learning Center, 2200 Champlain Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 25 – Goodwill Baptist Church, 1862 Kalorama Road NW (Ward 1)
  • 137 – Garrison Elementary School, 1200 S Street NW (Ward 1)
  • 141 – Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, 2000 14th Street NW (Ward 2)

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by April 2, 2012 at 8:00 am 2,391 2 Comments

From Matty Rhoades. Email him at matty[AT]

Tomorrow, April 3, is DC primary election day and the polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm. Do you know where to vote? The DC Board of Elections & Ethics (DCBOEE) has an easy online way to find your precinct/polling place. All you need to know is your address. You can even view a sample ballot at DCBOEE site.

DC, April, 3, primary, polling, places, Luis, Gomez, Photos

April 3 is primary election day in DC. Campaign signs were already up near Precinct 16 over the weekend. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Remember: DC’s primary elections are closed, which means you must be registered as either a Democrat, Republican or Statehood Green Party member to vote on Tuesday. If you are registered as an Independent, you cannot vote on April 3. (See April 3 Primary: Only Party Members Vote; Picking Dem Delegates.)

Voters will pick the party nominees for the November 6 general election in four DC Council Wards (2, 4, 7, 8), the Democratic nominee for an At-Large Council seat, as well as candidates for Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives and a shadow senator and representative.

Locally, incumbent Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is running unopposed in the April 3 primary, while Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) is not up for re-election this year.

Presidential Primary

Tomorrow is also the presidential primary in DC — the first time the presidential primary and local primary have been combined (the local primary has previously been in September).

President Barack Obama has no opponent on the Democratic side, although there is the option of voting for Uncommitted delegates. On the Republican side, the choices are Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and John Huntsman (who withdrew from the race months ago).

An Overwhelmingly Democratic Electorate

What’s the breakdown by party and Independent registration in DC? According to DCBOEE’s latest registration numbers:

  • Democrat: 75% (62% in Ward 2, which includes Dupont-Logan, and 73% in Ward 1, which includes the U Street area)
  • Republican: 7% (13% in Ward 2, and 5% in Ward 1)
  • Statehood Green: 1% (0.6% in Ward 2 and 1.4% in Ward 1)
  • Independent: 17% (24% in Ward 2, 20% in Ward 1)

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by March 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm 2,454 1 Comment

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT] and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Heads up! In a break with tradition, DC’s city primary has been moved up from fall to spring, and will take place next Tuesday, April 3. The primary was moved to coincide with the presidential primary in DC. Voters will pick the party nominees for the November 6 general election in four DC Council Wards, the Democratic nominee for an At-Large Council seat, and vote in the Democratic and Republican Party primaries for President.

Moreover, DC’s primary elections are “closed,” which means you must be registered as either a Democrat, Republican or Statehood Green Party member to vote on Tuesday (the huge majority of DC voters are registered Democrats). If you are registered as an Independent, you cannot vote on April 3. Some voters will be voting in new precincts, new wards and new ANC districts, following DC redistricting after the 2010 Census.

"Borderstan" "Primary Elections"

Tuesday: The polls in DC are open from 7 am to 8 pm. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The change to one primary day comes as the District tries to adhere to federal election law, which mandates that absentee voters (such as deployed military personnel) receive their ballots at least 45 days ahead of the November elections.

This requirement created a time crunch for the District, which typically holds its primaries in early September. In order to avoid holding the primary during the summer months, when many voters are out of town, DC officials opted to move the contests back to the Spring.

Critics say the drastic move gives incumbents an unfair advantage. Challengers must begin registering, financing, and publicizing their campaigns nearly a year before the elections, when few voters (or donors) are interested.  Now, with many voters still unaware that primaries are just days away, candidates gain a foothold in a race that is a de-facto general election, since three-quarters of DC voters are registered as Democrats.

One upside to the change is that it consolidates DC’s primaries to a single day. As recently as four years ago, the Presidential primaries were held in April (well in advance of the summer nominating conventions) and primaries for District offices such as Mayor, and City Council members did not occur until September.

Locally, incumbent Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is running unopposed in the April 3 primary, while Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) is not up for re-election this year.

Process of Selecting Democratic Convention Delegates

Even so, the combined dates probably won’t do much to alleviate any confusion that non-political residents may have about the selection of DC’s convention delegates, a process that is already well underway. In fairness to DC, the process for selecting delegates to the national conventions of the two big parties is complicated and often involves numerous steps in all the states and territories of the U.S.

On March 3, the DC Democratic Party selected its first 14 delegates in a pre-primary caucus. Democratic voters selected seven male and seven female District-level Delegate-nominees, as well as one Alternate-nominee to be part of DC’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention in early September in Charlotte.

This caucus was the only point at which DC voters had a direct say in forming the delegation; the votes cast in the upcoming April 3 primary won’t affect which delegates are chosen, only who the delegates support come September (not a difficult guess as President Obama is running unopposed for the nomination).

The rest of the delegation selection process happens among party insiders and DC officials. In early May, the DC Democratic State Committee will choose its Pledged PLEO (Party Add-on) and At-Large Delegates, as well as several Unpledged (or Automatic) Delegates. Unpledged Delegates are DNC members or other national party figures who have been pre-arranged by the DNC to represent the District. This year’s Unpledged Democratic Delegates will include Mayor Vincent Gray, U.S. House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and DC’s two unofficial shadow senators.

The total delegation of 44 members will travel to Charlotte in September to be part of the Convention nominating President Obama. To learn more about the delegate selection process, you may want to consult this chart on the DC Democratic Party’s website.

Perhaps this seems like a lot of effort, thought and money being spent to nominate someone who is, for all intents and purposes, already the inevitable choice. But as former ANC 1B commissioner and delegate candidate Brianne Nadeau reminds us, in an underrepresented community such as ours, it is the symbolism behind the vote that counts.

“Without full participation in the electoral process, we will never have full representation,” Nadeau says.

President Barack Obama will be the only name on the Democratic presidential primary ballot. On the Republican side, the choices are Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and John Huntsman (who dropped out of the race). Sorry, folks, Rick Santorum won’t be on the GOP ballot here.

Democratic Delegate Timeline Process

For your reference, here’s a timeline of the delegate selection process:

  1. February 17, 2012 – Deadline for candidates to qualify for District-level delegates or Alternate Delegate  Candidates file a “Statement of Candidacy” and sign pledge with the DC Democratic State Committee designating support for their presidential candidate of choice.
  2. February 20, 2012 – State Party provides a list of District-level Delegates and Alternate candidates to the respective Presidential candidates.
  3. February 24, 2012 – Presidential candidates provide a list of approved District-level Delegate and Alternate
  4. candidates.
  5. March 1, 2012 – Last day for DNC to notify DC State Chair of names of Unpledged Delegates (DNC members)
  6. March 3, 2012 – Delegate candidate selection at the Pre-primary Caucus
  7. April 3, 2012 – Democratic Presidential Preference Primary
  8. April 17, 2012 – DC Board of Elections and Ethics certifies results of the primary; pre-slated District-level Delegates and Alternates are allocated according to presidential preference vote.
  9. April 23, 2012 – State Party certifies elected 14 District-level Delegates and one Alternate to the Secretary of the Democratic National Committee.
  10. May 3, 2012 – DC State Committee Meeting to choose Pledged PLEO (Party Add-on) and At-Large Delegates and Alternate Delegate.
  11. June 17, 2012 – Last day for DC State Chair to inform DNC Secretary of presidential preferences of Unpledged Delegates.
  12. September 3-7, 2012 – Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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by March 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm 2,556 1 Comment

"Borderstan", DC, Democratic, Primary, April, 3, primary, Black, Cat

At-Large DC Council candidates on March 13 at the Black Cat. From left: Sekou Biddle, E. Gail Anderson Holness, Peter Shapiro and Vincent Orange. Moderator David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington is at far right. (Matty Rhoades)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email Tom[AT] You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

Crowds converged on the 1800 block of 14th Street NW as unseasonably warm weather brought local residents out in force last evening. Part of the crowd was in front of The Black Cat, site of last night’s forum for the four candidates running in the Democratic Primary for an At-Large Council seat.

David Alpert, founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington, moderated the forum. For fans of local politics, the complete video of the forum (58 minutes) may be viewed at Greater Greater Washington, as well as Alpert’s wrap up.

Some familiar names were on the dais at the popular music hall in the heart of the booming 14th Street corridor. Trying to hold the seat he won during last year’s special election was At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange. Back for another round Sekou Biddle, who briefly held the seat when he was voted in by the DC Democratic State Committee to serve as interim At-Large member until last year’s special election was held (which he lost to Orange).

Another candidate lives in the area: Advisory Neighborhood Commission E. Gail Anderson Holness (ANC 1B-11). Rounding out the slate of Democratic candidates was Peter Shapiro,a former Prince George’s County Council member and now a resident of Ward 4.

David Alpert organized the forum around asking specific candidates a question. The candidate was then allowed one minute to respond, after which the others each had 30 seconds to comment. The topics ranged from opinions on same-sex marriage and affordable housing to transportation and education.

Highlights from the Forum

  • E. Gail Anderson Holness stressed several times during the evening that she is the only candidate who has not accepted corporate contributions – “unbought and unbossed” she declared. Her other rallying cry was “second on the ballot, second to none.”
  • Sekou Biddle knows his way around DC. During a candidate poll on transportation, Biddle was able to rattle off the bus line numbers he used as a child in Columbia Heights as well as the familiar S2, S4 and S9 lines that runs down 16th street through the heart of Borderstan.
  • Peter Shapiro focused his responses on the ethics investigations that have plagued the current administration and Council since last fall. Shapiro sees a broken system where the Council is sidelined, and not getting to work on issues such as job creation and economic development.
  • Vincent Orange, after being called on the carpet by David Alpert, offered an apology for his car blocking the 15th Street NW bike lane on New Year’s Day. He added that it was not his intent to block the lane and that education is key in diffusing tension between drivers and the growing number of cyclists on city streets. Orange said he his platform is the “4 E’s –ethics, education, employment, economic development.

Schools, Amenities, Metro, Corporate Contributions

  • Role of Council in oversight of DC Public Schools: The candidates were asked about the proper role of the DC Council in terms of oversight of the DC Public Schools — and whether there was too much meddling into the powers given to the schools chancellor. Orange said it had to be a “partnership,” while Biddle said it was the Council’s role to simply set policy and provide oversight. Shapiro called for a special Council Education Committee and said the Council needs to “take its oversight role seriously.”
  • Neighborhood diversity and amenities: All four candidates, not surprisingly, praised the diversity, walkability and services of neighborhoods such as those in Wards 1 and 2. Shapiro made an interesting observation later when asked about affordable housing — he noted that too many neighborhoods in outer areas of DC do not have walkable retail (one the strong points of the Dupont-Logan-U Street area). “Many areas that are affordable lack amenities,” Biddle said.
  • Last time you were on Metro: The candidates were asked about the last time they had used Metro — an important form of transportation in Dupont-Logan-U Street. Holness said she uses Metro almost every day, Biddle said it was “in the last 2 to 3 weeks,” Orange said “recently” and Shapiro answered “last week.”
  • Ban corporate contributions: All four candidates said they are in favor of banning corporate contributions to DC political candidates. Orange also supports banning councilmembers from having outside jobs while serving on the Council.

The Democratic primary is April 3 — DC primaries are usually in September. The winner of the primary will face candidates from the Republican and Statehood Green parties in the November general election.

Sponsors of the forum were The Urban Neighborhood Alliance, which coordinated the event, along with, Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Dupont Circle Citizens Association, Dupont Circle Merchants And Professionals Association, Dupont Circle Village, Dupont Festival, Greater Greater Washington, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, Logan Circle Community Association, Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association and the U Street Neighborhood Association.

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