Saturday, February 10, 2001

Donna L. Brazile, the Democratic Party strategist who orchestrated Al Gore’s defeat, is herself considering running for office. A longtime D.C. resident, she apparently has set her sights on a D.C. Council seat. It’s worth noting that a Brazile candidacy would certainly make the 2002 D.C. elections more interesting.

Miss Brazile has several options as a council candidate. She could run for a citywide seat, such as the one currently held by the very liberal Phil Mendelson, or, as a longtime resident of Capitol Hill, she could run in the Ward 6 race. Either way, Miss Brazile, who is black, would face white incumbents and fellow Democrats.

“I have been in politics all my life, this city has done great things for me, and I want to give back,” Miss Brazile recently told The Washington Post. “I am going to meet with community leaders, and then I am considering throwing my hat in the ring … I’m not going to sit on the sideline and be a spectator.”

It has been many years since Miss Brazile, who recently turned 41, sat on the sidelines. In 1983, she was national director of the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington, and the next year became the mobilizing director for Jesse Jackson’s first run for the White House. After he failed to win nomination by the Democrats, Miss Brazile became director for the Rainbow Coalition and, in 1988, a field director for first Dick Gephardt’s presidential campaign and then for that of Michael Dukakis. Mr. Dukakis fired Miss Brazile after she accused his Republican opponent, George Bush, of having an extramarital affair and labeled him a racist.

While most Washingtonians know Miss Brazile because of her longtime affiliation with D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, her bonds with gay and lesbian groups are also quite tight. As she herself has said, “The four pillars of the Democratic Party are African-Americans, labor, women and what I call other ethnic minorities. The emerging constituencies are environmentalists, gays and lesbians, and those with physical disabilities.”

Those remarks during last year’s presidential race set off more than a few alarms, especially among fellow Democrats. So it will not be surprising in the least if white, “other” minorities or heterosexual D.C. voters raise an eyebrow or two at a Brazile candidacy. On the other hand, a contest between two liberals such as Miss Brazile and Mr. Mendelson could prove to be, well, downright delightful.

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