- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Democrat Muriel Bowser fended off a challenge from two independents on Tuesday to win election as the seventh mayor in the District’s history.

With all precincts reporting, Ms. Bowser secured 53.9 percent of the vote to defeat independent David A. Catania, who took 35.3 percent and Carol Schwartz, who earned 7.1 percent.

“I’m humbled and I’m grateful to stand here as the next mayor of my hometown,” said Ms. Bowser, who thanked her parents and family first for their support throughout her 20-month campaign. “Thank you for sacrificing with me pushing hard with me to make sure we get this job done.”

Polls pointed to a competitive race between Mr. Catania and Ms. Bowser, who faced questions about her experience and her record in seven years as a council member representing Ward 4. She emerged from a crowded field of Democrats in April to defeat sitting Mayor Vincent C. Gray, whose lone term in office was overshadowed by scandal surrounding his 2010 election victory and a shadow campaign that operated on his behalf.

Ms. Bowser, 42, who represented Ward 4 on the D.C. Council since she was hand-picked by former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in 2007 to succeed him, appeared to have benefited from a guilty plea in the days before the primary election by the wealthy businessman at the center of the scandal.

Throughout her campaign, she outraised her opponents while appealing principally to the 76 percent of city voters who identify themselves as Democrats — touting a public endorsement by President Obama and promising to unite the city.

As Ms. Bowser emerged on stage Tuesday night, the crowd that gathered at Ms. Bowser’s victory party at the Howard Theatre in Northwest broke into chants of “All eight wards.” She was joined on stage by the majority of her D.C. Council colleagues, most of whom endorsed her campaign.

Despite polling that showed Ms. Bowser’s opponents siphoning off a significant portion of Democratic support, she held enough of the electorate to ensure a Democratic victory.

Her win will now send Mr. Catania packing from the at-large seat he’s held on the council for 17 years. The council member, widely praised for his effectiveness and attention to detail, faced an uphill battle for election as a white, openly gay independent in a city that has never elected a mayor who was any of those things.

Mr. Catania eschewed re-election for his mayoral run, and 15 candidates emerged to fight for the seat he left wide open. Independent Elissa Silverman, a former journalist and budget analyst, was elected to fill the seat by winning just 12 percent of the vote in the crowded race.

Karl Racine, with 36.9 percent, won the race to be the city’s first elected attorney general. Aside from the at-large race to succeed Mr. Catania and the newly created attorney general post, D.C. voters provided few surprises, returning a incumbents to office along with council candidates who had won their Democratic Party primaries.

Voter turnout was 32.2 percent.

Terri Cobb, 49, said she voted for Ms. Bowser because she thought the council member was the most active in engaging voters in her Northeast neighborhood.

“She’s been the most visible,” said Ms. Cobb, noting that volunteers knocked on the door of her North Michigan Park home multiple times throughout the race and that she had only received mailers from the Bowser campaign.

“I think she is a unique candidate in that she can be inclusive and bridge a lot of different interests,” said Louis Davis, a 28-year-old software programmer from Hillcrest. “She not only represents native Washingtonians like me but she can represent many of my friends who are new to the city.”

“To me she embodies the best of the Fenty administration in that she is progressive and will cut through red tape to try new things but I think she is going to be more accessible,” said Mr. Davis who volunteered for Ms. Bowser’s campaign.

Supporter Umekki Curry, a 44-year-old real estate agent who attended Ms. Bowser’s victory party, said she’s looking to a new start with Ms. Bowser at the District’s helm so that the city can finally move beyond the scandal that overshadowed Mr. Gray’s time in office.

“She’s energetic and she’s looking to move the District in the right direction,” the Ward 5 resident said.

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