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GOP hoping anti-incumbent wave brings red tide to D.C.’s sea of blue
The national anti-incumbency wave is hitting Republicans and Democrats alike.
In recent primary elections, discontented voters kicked both veteran Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Democrat, and freshman Rep. Parker Griffith, Alabama Republican, out of Washington. D.C. Republicans are hoping similar sentiment makes its way inside the city limits, where Republicans are trying to unseat Democrats in four D.C. Council races.
The candidates - Marc Morgan of Ward 1, David Hedgepeth of Ward 3, Timothy Day of Ward 5 and Jim DeMartino of Ward 6 - are trying to mark history knowing they face uphill battles. Neither history nor the odds are on their side. But they are driven by what they see as the lack of leadership, vision and innovative thinking in City Hall.
In a wide-ranging interview last week with The Washington Times, the four candidates discussed their positions on several hot-button issues facing taxpayers, including changing how D.C. voters elect their leaders.
For the most part, their key priorities are quintessential urban politics - too little school choice, blown budgets and, of course, parking, crime, transportation and taxes.
D.C. Republicans have always run for office in prior elections and occasionally won. But this year is different, as voters in other jurisdictions are showing the door to incumbents in both major parties.
“This is an anti-incumbent year,” said Mr. Day, who is challenging freshman lawmaker Harry “Tommy” Thomas Jr.
Now is the time to dislodge the lock and the key from the grips of the Democratic Party, who have controlled city politics since home rule was granted in 1973, the Republicans said.
Their strategy is simple: Find a way to persuade 6,500-7,000 voters in each race to vote Republican - a winnable but daunting effort since D.C. Democratic voters overwhelmingly outnumber Republicans, independents and members of the Statehood Green Party.
And that’s where the odds come into play.
The D.C. electorate is 75.28 percent Democrat vs. 6.86 percent Republican, according to the latest data on the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics website. Independents hold the second-highest percentage, 16.52 percent, and the D.C. Statehood Green Party holds 1 percent.
Mr. Morgan, who faces Jim Graham, is positioning himself to woo the pro-environment vote. A moderate Republican and environmentalist who helped the Republican gubernatorial ticket to victory in Maryland in 2002, Mr. Morgan pushes a green agenda that favors a free-market approach to growing jobs and small businesses, and building more environmentally friendly schools, housing, retail and office space.
“The city dropped the ball on green buildings,” he said, contending there is no vision and leadership for long-term strategy.
He advocates allowing small and disadvantaged business owners to help themselves by working on projects that allow them to retrofit their own buildings by going green.
“Lots of cities have sustainable [green] solutions,” Mr. Morgan said, citing Portland, Detroit and Chicago as urban centers that encourage the private sector to lead the way.
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About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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