D.C. Council to weigh November vote for attorney general

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The D.C. Council on Monday is set to consider a bill that would schedule an election for D.C. attorney general in November — likely the last chance to put the issue before voters for four years.

The legislation, introduced by council member Mary M. Cheh, would create a partisan attorney general election in the fall. The hearing comes after a D.C. Superior Court judge on Friday declined to issue an injunction and put the race on the April primary ballot.

The sole candidate in the city’s first race for an elected attorney general, Paul Zukerberg, lost his court battle just as the Board of Elections was finalizing its ballots for the primary — meaning that neither he, nor the race, would be included on the ballot.

“Unfortunately, time was our biggest enemy in this battle, and I think we just ran out of time,” Mr. Zukerberg said.

Judge Laura A. Cordero denied Mr. Zukerberg’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the case, in which he sought to block a law adopted by the D.C. Council that delayed the election from 2014 until 2018.

Voters in 2010 approved a charter amendment authorizing the first election of the city’s attorney general and setting a primary election for April. Fearing the city wasn’t prepared for the election of an attorney general, the D.C. Council passed a bill in October that pushed back the race until 2018.

Ms. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, was among those who voted for the delay, which passed 7-6. If she — and the six council members who voted not to delay the election — vote in favor of the current bill, the race could still be held in November.

Noting legislative efforts are under way to allow attorney general candidates to run in the general election, and that the government has given no indication it intends to further postpone the election past 2018, Judge Cordero wrote that Mr. Zukerberg failed to prove he would suffer “irreparable harm” as a result of the delay. She further noted that a ruling in Mr. Zukerberg’s favor could do more harm than good.

“It would result in confusion both for voters and the District of Columbia regarding the validity of casting a vote for a candidate who may not assume office,” Judge Cordero wrote. Mr. Zukerberg, who collected more than 4,800 signatures from registered voters so his name could be included on the ballot, said he hasn’t definitively ruled out any further legal action. But on Friday, describing the exhaustion of running both a campaign and a legal fight, he sounded resigned that this round of the campaign was over.

“We fought for as long as we could, but every case has a winner and loser, and this time we lost,” Mr. Zukerberg said. “For all intents and purposes, with the ballots going to the printer at close of business today, I don’t know that there is anything else we can do in the court.”

Mr. Zukerberg said he intends to support any and all efforts to keep the election on the ballot for the general election.

As is, the attorney general’s race “will not appear on the ballot,” Board of Elections spokeswoman Tamara Robinson said. “Should anything change, we’ll comply with whatever law or judge’s orders come down.”

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