- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Special elections have become rituals in the District, thanks to the liberals and their constant barking.

Now it seems the D.C. Republican Party has fallen down and can’t get up.

While the D.C. population is growing by leaps and bounds, both the Republican and conservative coteries are nowhere to be found.

Look at recent events:

December: True-blue progressive Anita Bonds won over party leaders and was elected to hold temporarily an at-large seat until a special election is held April 23.

November: There were 483,600 registered D.C. voters, but only 294,254 bothered to cast ballots in the races for president and vice president, and the local contests, which included a special election for D.C. Council chairman.

In races with national implications, Republicans lost, and in the special election the party fielded no candidate.

May: Ward 5 voters hit the polls in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Harry Thomas Jr., who had pleaded guilty to misappropriating public funds. Voters didn’t even hand the victory to Republican Tim Day, even though he is credited with the research that actually led to Thomas’ downfall.

In other cases in recent years, D.C. Democrats simply pinned a tail on a different donkey.

Now look at these numbers:

According to the D.C. Board of Elections, more than 81,000 voters were not beholden to any party as of Sept. 30 (the latest available monthly report on the website).

That compares with fewer than 30,500 registered Republicans and more than 354,600 Democrats.

Why so lopsided?

The ideological lines are historically blurred, and they have been that way since Congress and the Kennedy administration winked at the D.C. electorate by giving registered voters the privilege to elect their first White House ticket and school board.

Conservatives began voting with their feet and moving to Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, where schools were top-notch, taxes were lower, and the streets far safer.

After the Nixon administration and Congress gave their limited home-rule go-ahead to D.C. residents in 1973, the D.C. Democratic Party no longer needed to strong-arm the polls.

No Republican or independent has become mayor, chairman of the D.C. Council or won the congressional race.

No Republican or independent has held one of the eight ward seats.

Even today, not one Republican holds a council seat.

Sure, many have tried, but they all failed to take out a single Democrat.

And sure, there’s former Republican David A. Catania and outgoing independent Michael A. Brown, but each abandoned their party and owned up to their own shades of progressive blue after winning office.

Technically, they both won fair and square, but if you’re looking for a social conservative or fiscal conservative, or even a constitutional constructionist, look across the Potomac or outside the Beltway.

Culturally and politically speaking, the nation’s capital is like San Francisco on steroids.

Another liberal, David Grosso, comes on board in January after winning the at-large race in the general election in November.

The current lineup for the April 23 special election cannot be colored even the lightest shade of purple since only one Republican has announced his candidacy, and that is Patrick Mara, a Republican in name only (or RINO) who promises to be stakeholders’ “ethical and fiscal watchdog” if elected.

Well, city hall has always had watchdogs and some, including Mr. Catania, bark louder than others.

What stakeholders need is for the D.C. Republican Party to stiffen its spine and grow — well, this being a family newspaper, I can’t go there.

But you know what’s missing.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.