You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

D.C. attorney general candidate challenging election delay must wait for Congress

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The D.C. lawyer challenging a bill that postpones the city's first election for attorney general will wait until the legislation becomes law, likely in early January, before arguing the issue in D.C. Superior Court.

Paul Zukerberg, the only declared candidate in the race, already has waged one court battle over the law, but his request for a preliminary injunction was denied when a federal judge decided the case was not "ripe for review."

The second time, Mr. Zukerberg isn't taking any chances on the issue's ripeness and said attorneys plan to request a hearing on a date after the 30-legislative-day congressional review period required before most D.C. legislation becomes law.

"We will pick a date so that the 30 days has passed so that we don't run into that problem," he said. "We're just waiting. It's kind of exciting. I'm hopeful we get a ruling shortly after the new year so we'll be able to move forward."

It's unclear the exact date the legislation will become law. Legislative days require both the House and Senate to be in session, and a tally of days thus far shows both have been in session 14 days since the bill was transmitted Oct. 24. Meanwhile, the D.C. Council's Legislative Information Management System lists the projected date the bill could become law as Dec. 31, even though neither the House nor the Senate has any scheduled sessions until the first week of January.

The D.C. Council, fearing the city wasn't prepared for the election of an attorney general, passed a bill in October that pushed back the race until 2018.

The move was made after voters approved a charter amendment in 2010 authorizing the first election of the city's attorney general and setting a primary election for April.

Mr. Zukerberg will be challenging the law in D.C. Superior Court after U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg questioned whether federal court was the right venue for the case. He is seeking another preliminary injunction hearing, but thus far only a scheduling conference has been set for February by D.C. Superior Court Judge Laura A. Cordero.

Election preparations continue in the race while a final resolution is sought.

"We're just waiting to hear what the decision is, but in the meantime we're proceeding as business as usual," said Tamara Robinson, spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections.

Over the past two weeks, Mr. Zukerberg has submitted more than 4,600 signatures for a petition to get his name on the ballot for the April election primary. His campaign also has raised some cash — a total of about $12,600 with about $4,000 of that in the form of a loan from Mr. Zukerberg to his campaign. With few expenses and an uncertain candidacy, Mr. Zukerberg said he hasn't sought to collect much money except from supportive family and friends.

Although a ruling on the case might come too late to affect the April primary, Mr. Zukerberg said he hopes that a ruling in his favor would not be too late for others to join the race for the November election.

"It may not be a contested primary, but I think there is enough time for a contested election if we get a ruling at the beginning of the year," he said.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.