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IN OTHER WORDS: GOP switch stirs up Ward 7 race

- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 23, 2011

What do you get when you mix an incumbent D.C. Council member, the 26-year-old son of a former city lawmaker and an anti-gang activist who suddenly switches to the party of Ronald Reagan?

A really fun race for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council, that's what.

Ronald Moten, founder of the Peaceoholics and a supporter of former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty who is challenging council member Yvette M. Alexander in 2012, formally switched Friday from Democrat to the GOP - as a "Civil Rights Republican," to be exact.

The move should move him past a contentious primary between Ms. Alexander, Kevin B. Chavous and a few other Democratic candidates to take on the winner in the general election.

The council, which by law reserves two seats for members representing the nonmajority party, features 11 Democrats, two independents and zero Republicans.

Yet Mr. Moten says the Democratic Party has done little for blacks in the District, while leaders such as reformer Frederick Douglass made their names within the Republican Party in the 19th century.

He says he does not agree with all Republican principles on the national level, so don't go pesterin' him about the war in Iraq, fences on the Mexican border and tax breaks for the rich.

Carving it up

After two hours of tense floor debate Thursday, Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch made an announcement that satisfied Democrats and Republicans alike - the 141-member chamber was going to have pizza for lunch.

Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, told the chamber shortly after noon that they would break for a brief recess to enjoy pizza ordered by staff members and brought directly to the House lounge - a practice sometimes employed during especially lengthy floor sessions.

The lunch break, welcomed with scattered applause from delegates, provided a brief respite during a four-day special session in which the General Assembly approved a new map of the state's eight congressional districts. It approved the map despite Republican cries of gerrymandering in the mostly Democratic state and GOP and ethnic-minority concerns that the map would dilute the influence of black and Hispanic voters.

Nonetheless, their differences would have to wait. The House took its break and resumed about half-hour later, by which time indigestion had probably set in for many members.

"I think that's a map we can all vote on," Mr. Busch said of the pizza, to laughter from many delegates. "You'll note it will be in eight slices that are exactly alike. It is very, very much bipartisan pizza."

We suspect things would have gone less smoothly had he let the lawmakers vote on the toppings.

'On the other hand ...'

Nobody ever accused former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder of not speaking his mind - or going out of his way to compliment Tim Kaine.

In 2010, the former Democratic governor said his successor wasn't the right fit to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Later that year, he suggested that President Obama drop Vice President Joseph R. Biden and opt for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as a ticketmate for his re-election bid.

And last week, he couldn't help but point out the dearth of Virginia Democrats appearing with the president during Mr. Obama's campaign-style bus tour that included several stops in the Old Dominion, which Mr. Obama won in 2008 and likely will need again in 2012 if he hopes to get re-elected.

"Have you noticed the absence of many Democrats with the president as he swings through the state?" he asked Chuck Todd last week on MSNBC. "The Democratic leader of the House has even taken out an ad saying, 'I am not Obama,' " he added, referring to House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong, Henry Democrat.

But can Mr. Kaine win his Senate race against Republican George Allen next year without Mr. Obama carrying Virginia? Or could Mr. Allen win without the GOP presidential nominee securing the state?

It's possible, Mr. Wilder said.

"I'm quite certain that Tim Kaine and the president, being friends as they are, have discussed it. They've talked about what the problems would be - they both need each other's votes," he said. "On the other hand, Tim Kaine is smart enough to know that independents play a significant role in this state, and to the extent that he is seen being too heavily involved with Obama, it could hurt him.

"On the other hand," Mr. Wilder continued, "he needs the Obama base vote of the party and Obama needs some of the Kaine votes who still look like they're supporting him."

Got all that?

Bartlett gets out

Maryland Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett made a rare public appearance Friday, attending a small-business conference in Frederick one day after a potential challenger for his seat blasted him as ineffective and reclusive within his own district.

Mr. Bartlett, a Republican, attended the Smart Proc procurement conference, a spokesman said. The 10-term congressman has kept an increasingly low profile in recent years, raising few campaign dollars and seldom speaking at events in his 6th District. Mr. Bartlett, 85, likely will have to make many more appearances in the next yea if he hopes to win re-election in November 2012.

Tom Howell Jr., David Hill and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

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