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SIMMONS: Democratic mayoral candidates duke it out toward end game

- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The end game.

The first black U.S. president, Barack Obama, appointed the first black U.S. attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., who wanted another black, Ronald C. Machen Jr., to be the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

The race card was played, but it isn't the trump in this story.

Now, let us begin the story.

"The Democratic Party is at stake," Carlos Allen, a Democrat making a run for D.C. mayor, said during an interview Thursday.

His comments followed those made two days earlier by Ron Phillips, chairman of the D.C. GOP, who said, "We must get out of this rinse-and-repeat cycle of electing candidates simply because there's a 'D' behind their name."

Both Mr. Allen and Mr. Phillips are spot on in their assessments of the fallout of the case against Jeffrey E. Thompson, the city's former rainmaker and prolific campaign funder who pleaded guilty Monday to federal conspiracy charges.

The question, now, is are D.C. stakeholders really and truly paying attention to the unfolding, contemptuous events?

After speaking with Mr. Allen, I asked the head of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, Anita Bonds, if she agreed with Mr. Allen's assessment and she succinctly said, "No, I do not."

As the party leader, I understand why she might not want to admit that she and her fellow jackasses have a problem.

I proffered no follow-up question for several reasons: 1) One former Democratic lawmaker is in prison and one skated jail time by the hair on his chinny-chin-chin; 2) another will soon hear the bars clang; and 3) more than a half-dozen Democratic players have pleaded guilty to dirty politics.

The District has been a one-party town for too long.

The mayor, the D.C. Council chairman and the majority of seats have always been held by Democrats.

This year independents (yay!) are positioning themselves to end what Mr. Phillips rightly named the "rinse-and-repeat cycle."

If you thought national Republicans are a disjointed sort, look at what Democrats in the nation's capital are doing.

The overwhelming majority of elected officials perched in city hall are preoccupied.

Embattled Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the titular head of the D.C. Democratic Party and up for re-election, is fighting for his political life and personal reputation amid court statements made Monday that he knew his campaign was running on two simultaneous tracks, one legitimate and one shadowy campaign financed by moneyman Thompson.

The mayor said the court allegations are "lies."

Meanwhile, as the mayor battles himself and his accusers, he also has to take on the D.C. Council, where eight of 13 members' names will appear on the Democratic primary ballot alongside Mr. Gray's.

Four of the eight are mayoral contenders, and the other four are trying to keep their seats.

Ms. Bonds, an at-large lawmaker, is part of that latter group, and when I asked what or how do she and the party plan to handle the potential criminal clouds hanging over the heads of so many Democrats, she said she didn't know yet because the party was getting together Thursday evening.

Well, voters shouldn't wait for the party to tell them what to do.

David A. Catania certainly isn't.

I told you a while back that he would be the wild card this election year. He signed Tuesday on the dotted line as an independent in the mayoral race.

His name won't be on the April 1 ballots, and it needn't be.

Mr. Catania knows how to go it alone sometimes — as a gay politician, as a white politician in a majority black city, as a Republican in true-blue territory and as an independent beholden to no political party machine.

As an independent, he already has 17 percent of the city's electorate in his camp — and that's no small measure as Mr. Obama's Democrats duke it out with Mr. Gray and his Ds.

And as the D.C. Ds duke it out with themselves.

Deborah Simmons can be reached as dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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